JIM Richards is one of Australasian motorsport’s all-time most successful drivers, and arguably its most versatile.
Headlined by seven Bathurst 1000 victories and four Australian Touring Car Championship titles, his professional driving career spanned the breadth of the sport.
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To celebrate Richards’ 74th birthday, we take a look back at ten of the most legendary race cars from the Kiwi’s truly remarkable career.
Not all of greatest triumphs are captured here, and in fact multiple cars he co-drove to Bathurst wins are omitted, but these are cars in which ‘JR’ was the star.
Ford Mustang Sports Sedan
This iconic car netted Richards a Saloon title in his native New Zealand in 1973/74 and then helped put him on the map in Australia, competing in national Sports Sedan racing for 18 months from mid-’75.
Ford Falcon Sports Sedan
A long build process meant this Falcon did not debut until 1978, by which time the Sports Sedan scene had surged ahead. While it didn’t win a major title, this car’s mean styling makes it undoubtedly iconic.
BMW 635CSi Group A
When Australian touring car racing switched to international Group A rules in 1985, Richards and the sleek BMW 635CSi dominated, scoring the 1985 ATCC and two Endurance Championship titles.
BMW M3 Group A
BMW’s next Group A machine, the four-cylinder E30 M3, was a giant-killer in Richards’ hands, beating the turbo and V8 opposition to the 1987 ATCC crown.
Nissan GTS-R Group A
After two years of Ford Sierra supremacy, Richards and the HR31 GTS-R turned the tide in 1990. Richards drove this car for the first six of the eight ATCC rounds on his way to his third title.
Nissan GT-R Group A
Richards sealed the 1990 ATCC in the new GT-R. He took the four-wheel-drive rocket to his fourth ATCC title a year later, and also romped to back-to-back Bathurst wins alongside Mark Skaife in 1991 and ’92.
The versatility of Richards was perhaps best displayed with the speed in which he adapted to NASCAR when it arrived in Australia; he took his first NASCAR race win in this Oldsmobile in 1988.
Volvo S40 Super Tourer
A succession of Super Tourers driven by Richards during the 1990s most famously included the Volvo S40. He narrowly missed out on an Australian championship but drove one to a Bathurst win in 1998.
Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car
Richards won five circuit racing titles in Porsches, culminating in the inaugural Carrera Cup Australia crown. There was also a record eight victories in the Targa Tasmania tarmac rally with the brand…
Ford Falcon Sprint, Touring Car Masters
Success continued to flow for Richards into his 60s, racing this Falcon Sprint and an AMC Javelin in TCM. He won the 2010 and ’13 titles in this 1964 Falcon against higher horsepower rivals.
Want more Jim Richards? Listen to his appearance on the V8 Sleuth Podcast in 2019