Going into the 1970 season, Frank Gardner would have been feeling fairly confident that his new TransAm Mustang would be exactly what he needed to take his third BSCC title. What was not expected was how successful the Imp was going to be in the 1000cc category. It was, simply put, unstoppable. A Sunbeam, or Hillman, Imp won every single race of its class from the first round of 1970 all the way up until the fourth meeting of 1973. Bill McGovern, entered by George Bevan, was the best of the Imps and paved the way for McGovern to become the first ever three-time winner of the BSCC, and doing so in style with consecutive titles in 1970, ’71 and ’72.
Triumph Dolomite Sprint
The Dolomite Sprint brought Triumph success as soon as it stepped foot into the British Saloon Car paddock. Andy Rouse taking pole and winning at its debut race at Mallory Park in 1974. Rouse only missed out on winning the championship outright due to a thermostat problem causing him to be disqualified from the Silverstone Martini Trophy. Rouse made up for it in 1975, but his title did not come without controversy. Rouse and team-mate Muir had planned for a staged finish, with the former passing the latter on the final lap to take the final points needed to win the title. What they hadn’t planned was the yellow flag on the final corner, meaning technically Rouse’s move was illegal. No protest was lodged, and then-BARC chief Sidney Offord proclaimed “this is showbusiness, lets face it.”
Having started in the mid-‘70s with BMW 3.0 CSLs, Tom Walkinshaw Racing was contracted by Mazda to head up its works effort for the 1979 season. A strong showing in that year saw Walkinshaw himself take the RX-7 to second in the standings. Signing Win Percy for the 1980 season proved a stroke of genius for Walkinshaw, and the rotary engine took Percy to two consecutive championships.
The Rover SD1 was absolutely dominant in the mid-1980s, including taking victory in every single race in the ’83 season. Unfortunately, Rover found themselves with zero silverware from that year after a long legal dispute between Tom Walkinshaw Racing – who run the SD1s – and Frank Sytner, who had left TWR in less-than-amicable circumstances the previous season. The result of the tribunal caused Rover to withdraw from the BSCC and the Rover name was never seen again in the British championship. Andy Rouse, who inherited the ’83 title, privately ran an SD1 in ’84 to much success, winning all but four races, retiring from one and finishing second in the rest.
Ford Sierra RS500
Although overall honours would have to wait until 1990, the RS500 was the car of the late ‘80s, and some of the greatest moments in BTCC history came with RS500s taking centre stage. Possibly the most exciting battle to ever grace a British Touring Car meeting was that of the 1983 duels between Steve Soper and Andy Rouse in their respective Ford steeds. Soper only competed in three races that year – Thruxton, Brands Hatch and Donington Park – and in each of those three rounds, the would’ve-been 1983 champion could be found swapping positions with Rouse at the sharp end of the field. The Brands Hatch race goes down in history as one of the greatest BTCC battles of all time.
Photography courtesy of LAT Images