Okay, here’s the deal. You’re a Touring Car fan, you’ve just pocketed the £108 million jackpot on the EuroMillions. You want in on the action, but you want to make a mark. It’s not just a case of buying a couple of TOCA licenses and taking over a team, or buying ‘off the shelf’ examples of cars already on the grid. You are going to have to go in on your own.
The days of manufacturers pouring millions into the BTCC are long gone. Those halcyon times where 10 factory teams were on the grid are not coming back. With your new found wealth however this project is going to be a pocket money exercise for you. But there are rules and specifications to abide by.
You might fancy a go behind the wheel yourself, but with the wad bulging in your bank you have the opportunity to sign the best drivers on the grid. You might want to develop an engine, which limits further your choices due to the regs saying it has to be two litres, and from within the family of that car – but we’re assuming that a TOCA M-Sport engine lease will be signed.
So, the seeds are there. It’s time to get in touch with a few firms who specialise in turning road cars into NGTC machines to get the designs in place for the refitting of the machines you are ordering. Naturally you have hired your staff. Your hospitality and media folk are gearing up for a season. You have a nice new headquarters, trucks, vans, team wear – the lot. What we need to know now is this; Something new? Something off the wall? Or a bit of retro?
Now, just remember there are regulations. TOCA state that you can go for a 2, 3, 4 or 5 door machine (the 2 and 3 door options must be available in 4 or 5 door configurations.) The cars must be 4.4 metres or longer, and they will be equalised to being 1890mm wide – like every car in the field. But some of those rules can be bent – a little.
The 1890 mm wide is a fixed thing. You see in TOCA tech cars being measured for width, so you can’t get away with anything other than that. All of the cars carry flared wheel arches and a matching track to comply. And lets be honest here, they look way cooler than their road equivalents with their wide stances. During the off season there were mad rumours that Ash Sutton would race a Jag XE for BMR, which would have been a tough job as it is too wide. What would they have done? Shaved the B Pillar? It would have looked a bit daft being squeezed by a few cm to fit inside the regs!
The length though, that’s different. That 4.4 metres? It can be overcome, and you can go for a shorter car, there’s obvious leeway there. Without front splitters and flared arse ends the current BTCC field consists of 16 cars that fall under 4.4 metres if you were to buy a base model from the showroom floor. That’s important too, because your car has to be available and on sale in the UK through the official dealer network, so no Honda Accord or Cadillac CT4 here!
So here goes – 10 cars that could be seen on the BTCC grid if the right person has their numbers come up.
Okay – we said something ‘Retro.’ This is one of two retro marques we’d love to see back on the BTCC grid. The Giulietta was in the field with HMS and Rob Austin a little while back. It was a popular machine (well IT IS an Alfa, and it did have Rob Austin behind the wheel so what do you expect??!!) However, the Giulietta is a small car, whereas the Giulia is a spiritual successor to the good old Alfa 155 TS that dominated the 1994 championship with Gabrielle Tarquini. It’s a sexy beast if we’re being honest here. Just imagine it in Alfa Rosso with the white logo up the side like in the old days? I think we’re sold already!
Two years after that Alfa 155 dominated the BTCC, Audi arrived with Frank Biela and four wheel drive in their A4 Quattro. There have been a few Audi cars on the grid in the intervening years – but none – not even with Rob Austin in his Herman the German – have come close. Back in 2015 there were four cars from the marque in the BTCC. Two each of the S3 and the S4, but we propose the A4 right now. Yes, longer and heavier than the A3, but it just looks better, and instead of going with a retro livery celebrating ‘96, why not deck it out in the colours used by Sir Stirling Moss when he gave the BTCC a shot in 1980. After all, with all the lotto lolly you have you can colour the cars any which way you want – it’s not as if you need sponsors.
Nobody buys them – but they’re still a solid car. Yes. The Focus ST is in there already with the blue badge – but as with above, you can have two models from the same stable. Plus – The Mondeo is bigger, which means better? Right? Like the two cars above, you could retro it up. The Mondeo has a decent history in the BTCC with quite a few colour schemes you could re-create, but there is one thing to avoid. Don’t put Nigel Mansell in one. He’s already injured himself and wrecked two previous generations of the car, lord knows what he’d get up to if you let him loose with the field around Donington Park these days. He is getting on a bit you know!
Is it an estate? Is it a fastback? Right. This is from the left-field category. The Ceed is too short (but wouldn’t be if it was bulked out like the Focus, i30, Leon, Astra or Corolla,) and the Ceed Sportswagon is a bit – how shall we say? Ugly? But the ProCeed is a looker. It might not have the legendary estate credo of the 1994 Volvo, the pedigree of the Subaru Levorg, or the successful underpinnings of the 2013 Civic Tourer, but it’s more of a beaut than any of them. It’s a car that would make people look twice. And again.
Gimmie some Mazda love. The Wankel engine has been ‘pulled off’ the production line (come on, we had to get that churlish quip in there) and the production lines now feature a ‘normal’ engine, so it fits in with your M-Sport two litre donkey you’re paying TOCA and M Sport for. It’s a safe, middle of the road option, and it’s a chance to redeem the pretty poor Mazda attempts of bygone years. Just don’t expect your merch sales to be off the scale with this machine……
Mercedes CLA Class
The A Class has been and gone with Ciceley Motorsport – we don’t want that kind of rinse and repeat. The A Class saloon – well, that’s just silly. The B Class? Do they really exist? Have you had the misfortune to gaze upon one? Thought not, bin that off right now. The C Class? Well, we’re getting there. It’s a little stuffy and boring, so wind it back a little for a CLA – with an AMG badge of course. The Merc brand is all about F1 these days, but hop back a couple of decades to the old DTM 190E and you have heritage to play with. This would be the perfect opportunity to rub the nose of Stuttgart in the dogs dirt. A Bona Fide Merc as Touring Car – it would trump the GT3 farce that their own ‘national’ Touring Series has become with their own GT3 machine going against the ethos of tin top racing. Someone needs to get it done.
Again, you could enter a ‘too small’ 308, but that’s too easy. Let us choose something with a bit more luxury for the BTCC. The 508 Fastback is a car for Touring in anyway. The French marque was a hard company to convince to enter in 1992 when the two litre formula came into effect. Their commitment wavered on and off and they – like with their shot at F1 engine building – were oddly never truly fully in on their Touring Car programme in the UK. It was too hard. They found it easier to succeed in France and Germany – but this is your chance to right that wrong. It’s also a chance to build something bigger than the Laguna legacy of the nineties that their rival Renault built. Not just because of national competition, but because Renault have bottled from building cars that could compete in the BTCC. If it was the British SUV Championship or the British Naff Little Leccy Car Championship they’d be interested, but no, they’re too good for us now. Get them told with a Pug.
No. Not the Superb. That’s just a Passat/CC really, and we’ve just got shot of those VW machines (and the most suitable car from VW at the moment would be the Golf Estate – you wouldn’t be forgiven for making them build two more of those boxy monsters!) So we go with, a VW Golf? No. A Leon? No – we’ve got those already. An Audi A3? We’ve already rejected that. They’re all essentially the same car – but only the Octavia has that lovely Liftback option – it’s a bit of a standout – and it’s a company that has been conspicuously absent in modern BTCC competition as it has been overlooked by its ‘upper’ class VAG cousins. The thing is that Skoda still has that cult following, and you could build a decent solid fan-base if you dropped one of those into the mix in that bodystyle.
What do you mean you’ve never heard of it? I hadn’t either until I researched this article. It’s just a Toyota Corolla estate with a Suzuki nose. You could cosy up to Speedworks with this one. It’s the most left-field choice of the lot! People only know Suzuki for bikes, The Swift and little 4×4 mad things that look like Lego cars and have a propensity to fall on their side – and they do. I know this as fact, and they are stories (yes, plural) for another day, but back to the Swace. Is it not the ultimate ‘WTF is that?’ car or what? It’s something to have fun with. And with that pouch full of coin ready to explode the Toyota link could be overcome to get a shortcut to being on track. Seriously. A Swace would have heads scratching.
Sorry. No return to the mad Swedish shoebox of 1994. Volvo have – for the most part – mirrored Jag in building cars that are too wide, so the S90 it is. And it is long. Oil Tanker long. But it has an aesthetic quality that would look totally radgie if it was lowered, given growth around the arches, a splitter and a TOCA rear wing. It’s not reminiscent of the post 850 machines that ran in BTCC configurations, but it would look totally topper if it was splashed in white and ice blue like the cars of yore. It might not be able to carry a TWR logo, but you would certainly need a Tom Walkinshaw type to run it out, because it’s a car that would need a lot of work to get it competitive, and if it fails? Just make it waterproof and sail it to the Gulf of Mexico to load up with oil.
There are other cars out there that fit the bill. Would you choose one of this 10, or is there something else you’d like to get in on the action with? Let us know!