1994 E36 320i Super Touring
1994 BMW E36 320i Super Touring #0095-94
1,996cc S14 four-cylinder, 270+ hp @ 8,300 rpm
2,310 lbs. (minimum)
TC Kline Racing
Production-based racing didn’t get any better than Touring Car racing in the 1990s. Engine parity and 30-minute sprints kept the racing close, and Touring Car racing became enormously popular worldwide.
In 1993, the FIA created Super Touring or Class II for national championships worldwide, which dictated a stock steel body from a high-volume four-door sedan and an engine of no more than 2.0 liters, with rpm limited to 8,500. No aero parts were allowed until they’d been homologated, and the tires (up to 228mm wide) had to to fit within the standard wheel arches. Almost everything else was free, leaving manufacturers to lower the cars by up to 3.9 inches, strengthen the suspension, move pivot points, and install racing brake systems, 6-speed gearboxes, and limited slip differentials.
The regulations allowed a smaller version of the race-bred S14 in the E36 318i. The car’s front-engine, rear-drive layout incurred a 220-lb. weight penalty over the front-drive competition, but it scarcely mattered given BMW Motorsport’s attention to the Touring Car chassis. The roll cage alone was a work of art, increasing torsional rigidity sevenfold.
The car shown here, E36/CL2 0095 94, was built by BMW Motorsport in 1994 to the latest Class II specification, which included the new 6-speed sequential gearbox developed by BMW and Australia’s Hollinger. Delivered to CiBiEmme in Italy, it was raced by either Roberto Ravaglia or Emanuele Naspetti; each won one race over the course of the season to finish 4th and 9th, respectively.
In 1995, the car went to Australia, where it was raced by owner/ driver Paul Morris to 8 wins and 5 more podiums en route to the driver’s title. For 1996, #0095 94 came to the US, where Cli Archer campaigned it in the new North American Touring Car Championship (NATCC). Driver Steve Petty scored a best finish of 3rd at Vancouver, ending the season 5th and taking the Independent’s Cup for privateers. Purchased by TC Kline as a second car for 1997, #0095 94 was raced to a pair of 5th-place finishes at Portland by Tom Finneley and to 10th in both Toronto races by Doug Beatty.
Unable to attract enough entries, the NATCC folded at the end of the ’97 season, much to Kline’s disappointment. “Touring Cars put F1 technology into a 2.0-liter sedan, and they were the best-handling production-based cars you could race,” Kline says. “They had such sophisticated suspension, and sequential gearboxes. They cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to build, and they were as fast as Trans-Am cars. And the response to the series was phenomenal. When the races aired live on Wide World of Sports, we were getting a bigger TV audience than IndyCars.”