Video: Johnny Cecotto Slides a Classic BMW E30 DTM

Thirty years ago, DTM cars weren’t built to the standard as they are today. They were largely production cars with outrageous engine, as much tire shoehorned into the wheel wells, and plenty of exciting driving dynamics to keep both the viewer and the driver entertained. Because the cars weren’t as efficient nor as supremely agile as the modern stock are, the fast guys could indulge in a bit of oversteer and still win the race. Fortunately, we’ve got one of the best chauffeurs to demonstrate just how lively these cars were: Mr. Johnny Cecotto.

Cecotto, a former star on two wheels, had a bright F1 future ahead of him; partnering Senna in the 1984 Toleman team. He was the first big-leaguer to suspect Senna of Machiavellian tactics, and clearly had his work cut out dealing with the mercurial Brazilian. However, his career in F1 was cut short after a terrible accident while qualifying for the ’84 British Grand Prix, which broke both his legs and effectively ended his F1 career.

What a beauty.

Fortunately, he found his feet in touring cars, and finished runner up in the 1990 DTM season. The car he used was this gem: a 2.3-liter E30 M3 making somewhere around 300 horsepower in race trim. It was a light car at roughly 2,100 pounds, had little aero grip, had five manually-shifted gears, and wore narrow 275-section tires at all four corners. Agile, hot-blooded, and demanding a lot of the driver, the E30 DTM was one of the last of its ilk before they lost their analog charm and became impossible complicated. Perhaps Cecotto, in his scattered English, can better sum it all up: “Not so much electronic, not so much carbon fiber. It’s completely different to (a) touring car from these days.”

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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