Which Is Your Favorite ’80s DTM Street Icon?
There’s an irresistible fitness for purpose demonstrated by homologation cars. It’s this pared-back, lean, mean, and no-nonsense attitude that we love about the best of this very special breed of street car, a raw aggression that bursts out from the box-flared arches of this week’s featured competitors. “Competitors” couldn’t be more apt in this scenario, each car bred by their respective parent company for battle against each other in DTM, or German Touring Car racing, of the ’80s and ’90s. Today, both are highly-collectible, either one among the finest-handling sedans ever built.
First up is a 1988 BMW M3, the original, and in the mind of many, best version of M’s most iconic and biggest-selling car. Black over black Recaros, this particular example is no spring chicken with a solid 150k+ miles on the clock, but presents nicely as a good driver with nice, but not perfect cosmetics—we wouldn’t be afraid of thrashing it within an inch of its life and parking it with dirt and bugs in the grille for a few days.
The auction is light on hard information, but even if it contained an index and chapters we’d still never bid prior to an inspection, either in-person or by a reputable shop—it’s worth noting there’s frequently room for negotiating this service into the purchase price. If treated well, these cars can be very robust, and provided there’s no hidden electrical or mechanical gremlins, mileage should be no deterrent—let it shine as a driving tool and leave photoshoots on manicured lawns to the other guys.
Alternately, you could have a Euro-spec 190E 2.3 16. With a race-bred, medium-capacity, high-revving four cylinder similar to the Beemer’s, we’d never, ever tire of imagining its Cosworth heritage while revving it out to 7,000. Located in Canada, and with roughly half the mileage of the M3, it should be a relative breeze to import as its 1985 build date easily surpasses the Federal 25-year-and-older requirement.
No, we’re not fans of the clear corner or taillights, either, and to call the amplifier install as “sloppy” would be charitable, but the car otherwise looks presentable—with some proper lights, a buff with cutting compound, and an afternoon or two of detail it could shine. Again, a pre-purchase inspection is mandatory, with reliability directly in proportion to the level of care it’s been treated with over the years. While the E30 may have the ultimate advantage in sharpness, it’s not by a large margin, and there’s something incredibly alluring about this car—maybe because it’s the less obvious choice?
Which modern classic tin-top racer’s for you?
1985 Mercedez-Benz 190E
1988 BMW M3