Only a handful of guys have managed the transition from two wheels to four with any success. Johnny Cecotto is one of them. His career started in his home country of Venezuela on bikes and at the young age of just 18 years old became the national champion. He then won the championship again in 74.
Cecotto’s first international motorcycle race came at the Daytona 200 in 1975 where he caused a stir amongst the established riders by setting pole and finishing third overall. His arrival in Europe stunned the establishment further with wins in his first ever Grand Prix. He was crowned the youngest ever world champion at the end of 1975 in the 350cc class. In 1976 he returned to Daytona as a works Yamaha rider and achieved an outright win. From 1977 to 1980 Cecotto competed in the 500cc grand Prix class with numerous success’s and some serious injuries.
Cecotto retired from motorcycles at the end of the 1980 season mainly due to injuries and decided it was time for a new chapter. Motor racing.
His four wheel career started in the highly competitive formula 2 championship. Many race wins and plenty of quality drives during 1980, 81 and 82 with Minardi BMW and March BMW lead to drives in Formula 1. His 1983 and 1984 seasons were spent driving for both Theodore racing and Toleman Motorsport but Formula 1 was tough. A massive shunt in the British Grand Prix lead to two severely broken legs and the end to Formula 1 and single seaters.
The next move for Cecotto was Touring car racing and three outings at Le Mans. Without a doubt this is where Cecotto’s talent really peeked. His dominance and success is far too great to list here but Cecotto was in massive demand from the leading Touring car teams. Drives for Volvo, Mercedes, Opel and BMW in DTM, ETCC, BTCC, Italian TCC, Nurburgring 24 Hours, Spa 24 Hours and Bathurst carved his name in the history books as one of the greatest Touring car drivers of all time.
It is his achievements with Team Schnitzer and BMW Motorsport in the E30 M3 that are celebrated here. BMW produced 480 Special Edition cars that wore the name Cecotto on the dashboard plaque. This was BMW’s thank you to him for all his hard work and accomplishments.
The Cecotto featured the engine from the Evo 2 but was installed with a catalytic converter when new producing 215bhp. The engine cam cover and the plenum chamber where painted in one of only three of the special edition body colours reserved for both Cecottos and Ravaglias (Misano red, Macao blue and Nogaro silver).
The front and rear additional spoilers from the Evo 2 were used along with lightened bumper irons, boot lid and rear boot spoiler. The later 16” wheels were used but with a black centre. A graduated tint front windscreen was standard on Cecotto’s as was the Motorsport footrest, M3 door sill plates, illuminated gear knob, cassette holder, on-board computer, polished exhaust tail pipe trims, silver headlining, sun visors and pillar trims and Motorsport cloth with half silver leather seats. All this polished off with the all-important signed Johnny Cecotto dashboard plaque.
Thanks to BMW specialists Classic Heroes for this car.