The golden era of touring car racing that was the late ‘80s to the mid ’90s produced a number of fondly remembered machines. In the DTM, you had iconic contenders like the E30 M3 and Mercedes 190E. The BTCC gave us the Ford Mondeo with its enormous wheels and that one delightfully out-of-place Volvo estate. And from Japan, we had the heyday of the Castrol TOM’s Supra and Calsonic Skyline. It was a great time.
Among the most dominant marques to challenge for various international touring car titles was Alfa Romeo, whose 155 raced as well as it looked. The apex of the 155's tenure was the 1996 155 V6 TI, and wouldn’t you know one of them will go to auction in June in Milan, expected to sell for between $850,000 and $1,000,000.
The RM Sotheby’s page identifies this Martini-liveried 155 as Chassis 005, a car that participated in the 1996 DTM championship, which at the time was briefly known as the International Touring Car Championship before the series folded the following year. Here’s a bit of history on this car and its restoration, per the listing:
Chassis 005, offered here, was driven under the number 5 Alfa Corse-Martini works livery by Nicola Larini to pole position at Magny-Cours and Mugello. Larini and chassis 005 secured outright victory at Interlagos and Mugello en route to a 95-point season across 14 rounds (good for 11th place overall). Larini secured sixth place at the last round of the 1996 ITC season held at Suzuka Circuit on 10 November. After the 1996 ITC season, chassis 005 was returned to Alfa Corse and later retained by at least two successive owners within northern Italy until it was acquired by the consignor in 2018 and imported to Germany.
Beginning in July 2018, the consignor enlisted marque specialists at Scuderia Gran Tourismo in Irschenberg, Germany to prepare the car for competition in the inaugural DTM Classics Series. Invoices on file show over €350,000 expended over the past five years to return this touring car icon to the peak of its dominant racing form with a particular focus on retaining the chassis’ attractive patina and original components. As such, Larini’s original, date-coded race seat and steering wheel remain in the cabin.
This 155 is powered by a 490-horsepower, 2.5-liter V6 with a redline just shy of 12,000 RPM, attached to a car that weighs just 2,340 pounds. The car actually didn’t start the 1996 campaign with that engine; it was a mid-season upgrade that arrived for Round 7 in Silverstone and propelled the Alfa back to the top of the running order for the following three events. Ultimately, Opel swept both the drivers and manufacturers titles that year, with Manuel Reuter winning for Team Joest.
As 1996 marked the final year for the DTM before a few years off, the 155 didn’t contend for any more championships in that series. It did, however, appear in the fictional Sega Touring Car Championship, a video game released the same year that also included the 155's top rivals, like the Opel Calibra, W202 Mercedes C-Class, as well as the Castrol TOM’s Supra. It’s an awesome looking game with a banging Eurobeat soundtrack; unfortunately, it kind of sucks to play.
Anyway, this #5 car has enjoyed a successful sporting career in its second life, winning its debut race in the DTM Classics series at the Norisring in July 2019. In March of last year, its engine and transmission were rebuilt to original spec. Let’s hope whoever winds up owning it next keeps it in competition and doesn’t condemn it to a stuffy museum for eternity.