26 September 2011
New Class Meets New School
The year is 1965; The Rolling Stones tune Satisfaction is in the German pop charts (Ich Erhalten Keine Zufriedenheit just doesn't have the same ring to it y'know?), the birth control pill is introduced, and the German federal government lowers the wage tax. On the route between Augsburg and Munich, the first express train with a top speed of 120mph is introduced. At the same time, BMW unveil a sports cars in the guise of a saloon.
OK, the Alfa Romeo Giulia TI was introduced a little earlier, but for BMW, the Neu Klasse came of age when those wily Bavarians introduced the 1800 TI - for Touring International.
The TI, with 110bhp tickled from its 1.8-litre four-cylinder M10 engine, this unassuming saloon car became the terror of the motoring establishment. Only the more expensive Mercedes six-cylinder cars and a handful of track-ready Porsches were faster in real terms off the shelf. On the track, the TI quickly became rivals with the Alfa GTA and the Lotus Cortina. Hubert Hahne in the 1800 TI delivered spectacular duels in German tin-top racing; against Andrea de Adamich the Alfa and John Whitmore in the Lotus, racing masterpieces of the classic drift angle kind. A veritable wolf in sheep's clothing, Hahnemann gains a reputation for wringing the TI's neck around a circuit like there was no tomorrow.
The next logical step was an even hotter version; BMW unsheath a sharper version of the TI. The TI / SA (Te-I-Es-A) officially, but everyone affectionately calls it Tisa. The letters SA (sports version) appear nowhere on the car, the TI / SA is the classic wolf in sheep's clothing. BMW used traditional engine medication: bigger capacity (2 litres), higher compression, larger Weber carburettors instead of the standard Solex units, a hot camshaft coupled with a big valve head. Add to that, a close-ratio five-speed gearbox, wider wheels and thicker anti-roll bars - that surely is a 'sport' version. "Guaranteed Performance at 130 hp as standard exhaust system," promises the werks, the racing engines with the to-noisy-for-the-road sports exhaust from the list of accessories bumped power up to 160bhp.
Powerful enough for Hahne, during a support race for the German Grand Prix on 6 August 1966, to become the first man to lap the Nürburgring-Nordschleife circuit in under ten minutes in a touring car. Indeed, his lap time of 9.58 minutes caused a genuine sensation at the time.
The E90 M3 you see in the pictures, and indeed every BMW since, owes it's very existence to the New Class and the new beginning it gave the Bayerische Motoren Werke.
From here (hope your German is good) mostly, with my creaky German translation and some of my own words.