A BMW 635CSi Group A car trundled slowly around Misano with a black flag fluttering above it. This symbolic act early in December 1986 brought down the curtain on the career of a successful machine that had triumphed in that year's European Touring Car Championship. The flag indicated that the German manufacturer now understood it had a new contender, and the results of the test at the Italian track confirmed that it could challenge for outright honours.
That car was the BMW M3, a machine that would go on to win all the big championships - World, European, German and British included - over the course of the six seasons of the front-line career that followed. Factor in multiple victories at the major tin-top enduros - the Spa and the Nurburgring 24-hour races - and it's easy to understand why Autosport has named it the greatest touring car.
The test at Misano, which straddled the end of November and early December 1986, proved that BMW Motorsport had a potent Group A weapon on its hands. The first proper test of the car ran for more than a week with Roberto Ravaglia, a driver who remains synonymous with the boxy saloon, handling the driving. Only on the last of the eight days did he get any help: Ivan Capelli was brought in at Ravaglia's insistence for a mini-enduro run of 500km, the regular race distance of events in a series generally known at the time by the shortened acronym ETC.