How To Super Tourer, The Nissan Way

If Mark’s recent story on three race replicas hitting the streets of Japan doesn’t prove that the BTCC Super Tourer era truly transcends language and distance barriers, nothing else will.

The late-1990s Super Tourer race series was designed to push sales of everyman four-door saloons. But while the cars loosely resembled their road-going counterparts, under the skin they couldn’t be more different.

BTCC Primera SH 018

Budgets stretched well into seven figures for each car, with top-tier motorsport teams more commonly associated with Formula 1 and the World Rally Championship all vying for the Super Tourer podium.

Seeing one of the cars from that era at Race Retro a few weeks ago only reaffirmed my obsession with these amazing machines.

The car in question was a Nissan Primera from the 1998 BTCC Super Tourer season, as driven by David Leslie and built by RML (Ray Mallock Limited).

RML, having achieved plenty of success across numerous motorsport categories since its inception in 1984, were tasked by Nissan to produce a competitive Super Tourer from the humble front-wheel drive, second-gen P11 Primera GT sedan.

BTCC Primera SH 021

First campaigned in 1997, the Primera Super Tourer retained the electric folding mirrors of the road-going car, which provided a genuine high speed advantage by reducing drag. This was unsurprisingly outlawed for 1998. Revised aero packages, larger flared front wings and an upgraded dash and ECU were also added to the 1998 car.

These changes helped, and this same year the Primera became the first Japanese car to win a BTCC championship. The team won the 1998 manufacturer and team championship, and in 1999 also took home the most important accolade with Laurent Aïello winning the drivers championship.

BTCC Primera SH 020

The Primera’s SR20DE engine was fitted with a reversed cylinder head, along with a dry sump to allow it sit as low and far back as possible.

When RML was done, the engine made a healthy 326 horsepower from 2.0 litres, but this highly-strung powerplant came with some drawbacks. The engines required preheated oil to be pumped through their veins before start up, and sitting so low in the bay also meant that the steering column wouldn’t fit, hence the bevel-drive gearbox mounted on the driver’s side wheel tub.

BTCC Primera SH 008

Externally, the car sits on 19×9-inch centre-lock RAYS Volk Racing Touring Evolution Fortesst magnesium wheels. They’re tucked at the rear, with the radiused front arches allowing for a bit more clearance through the 1.25 turns of lock-to-lock steering.

BTCC Primera SH 016
BTCC Primera SH 012

The only noticeable other changes from stock are the front air dam and rear wing.

BTCC Primera SH 029

The interior is much like the Prodrive BTCC Mondeo we previously featured on Speedhunters, with the driving position moved further to the rear and slightly inwards to improve weight balance.

BTCC Primera SH 002

While the sheer audacity of the late-’90s Super Tourers are no less crazy today, the ingenuity and creativity their monumental budgets afforded are something we’re unlikely to see in production-car-based motorsport ever again. The cost-cutting measures nowadays have meant less opportunity for this sort of thinking to take place, but was a necessary evil to keep the racing close and entice teams to enter.

BTCC Primera SH 013

Thankfully, someone has brought this particular car back into the competitive fold. The Classic Touring Car Racing Championship (CTCRC) may not have the cachet of the BTCC, but the Primera’s owner is not alone, with over a dozen Super Tourers competing in the 2023 race season.

So if the next generation hybrid cars aren’t for you, being able to watch some the older generation of cars duking it out on the track at least eases the blow a little.

Chaydon Ford
Instagram: chaycore



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Love the detail shots of engine bay, interior and components. It really was the best era for BTCC, the variety of cars and the characters driving them too. I want one of these cars for Sunday mornings


Love this era, and love the fact about the mirrors.

Lunar TheSpaceCat

it just goes to show you that any engine is modifiable. as long as you have the $$


Its not like the SR20 was considered un-modifiable by any means..

Lunar TheSpaceCat

its cool, but did it win the show?


90s era touring cars are cool as heck. If you were a car person in that era, their popularity was everywhere, from Tamiya model kits to promotional posters given at shows and of course weekend television.

Too bad they won't work in today's market. Can't imagine a similar formula applied to their modern day equivalents - the dreaded SUV's, along with EV power and hybrid systems.




You guys must pay a visit @Vink motorsport,he has some really nice btcc e36’s build in cooperation with McLaren and dtm cars
It’s imo thé most extreme era in terms of modifications from what looks like a stock car on the outside
But the geometry and suspenion wise so extremely developed
Just look at the way the engines sitting so low and moved towards the firewall,to create the best possible weight balance.
To create that most have custommade sequential gearboxes with the driveshafts positions totally different just to get the best position for the engine




Man I'm starting to fall in love with Super Tourer once again
We need more Super Tourer content here

Richard Wheeler

Thanks for the feature. It's actually Leslie's 99 car stickered up as a 98 as was running as part of a two car team with a 98 car. Aiello's 99 car has now been added to the garage so we can three of them at Bramds hatch this year in July 23.


Hi Richard - Thank you for the clarification. Hoping to get to the Brands event, looks like it's going to be a great turnout of Super Tourers!


First campaigned in 1997, the Primera Super Tourer retained the electric folding mirrors of the road-going car, which provided a genuine high speed advantage by reducing drag. This was unsurprisingly outlawed for 1998.

Imagine a race series that's meant to link the relevance between road and race cars closely, but banning an actual feature that the road car has. Smh...


I'm gonna test this on my own car, see if I can get better fuel economy with them folded in lol


I still remember watching the odd BTCC race on Speed Vision/Channel growing up here in Canada. The silhouette of a street car made these machines so much more relatable than F1 or Indy Car. The Nissan Primera, BMW 3 Series (E36), and Honda Accord were my personal favorites. I must be excused now because I need to check out the classifeds on current market prices for these cars again. Great article!


Great write up. Awesome shots. Did not know about this machine and forgot how great the BTCC was to watch! Thank you for taking the time to feature this machine!


One of the best eras of racing and along with F2 rallycars, changed my mind about FWD. Would love to take one of these engines apart! Iconic livery as well, what a beauty!


Ahh, the days when you'd stand in the drizzle at Knockhill just to cheer on John Cleland and David Leslie as they flung their cars round Britain's most hilarious (but best) racetrack!


I used to own a 91 P10 Infiniti G20.. the US version of the platform. I loved that 7500rpm redline. The engine sounded so beautiful and the car was a blast to drive. Unfortunately I had bought it used from someone who had beat it to death and by the time I found out.. the engine had ate itself. I've always wanted another one, but they are very hard to find.