The British Saloon Car Championship (the name changed in 1987) began in 1958, with Ken Gregory (at the time the manager of Stirling Moss) credited with its formation. Organisers saw the popularity of early saloon car racing, but no national championship existed before then.Leading home-grown manufacturers of the time - including Austin, Jaguar and Riley - saw it as a great opportunity to show the prowess of their latest models to the buying public on a grand stage. The cars were largely the same as those found in dealerships, inspiring the motto of “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday”.
Jack Sears (right) claimed the inaugural championship in an Austin Westminster.
1963: Sears wins again as giant Galaxie tops mighty Mini
By the early 1960s the various engines size classes meant models of all shapes and sizes were competing, in what was known as the ‘monsters vs Mini’ era.
Huge American muscle cars like the Ford Galaxie (centre) were sharing the Tarmac with giant killers like the original Mini, and the crowd-pleasing tussles between the two were electric.
In 1963 Jack Sears became the first driver to win the title twice, largely running in a Class D Galaxie. His closest rival for the overall title was John Whitmore, who dominated Class A in his Mini Cooper.
1964: Grand prix legend Clark wins the title
During the 1960s the championship also attracted some high-profile all-rounders. The likes of Jim Clark and Graham Hill often competed in BSCC events during their off weekends from grand prix duties, and American racing star Dan Gurney also appeared.
Clark won the 1964 championship - the year after he first claimed the F1 title - in the dominant Lotus-tuned Ford Cortina.
1969: The rise of the Ford Escort
By the late 1960s regulations allowed teams greater scope for tuning engine and suspension set-ups, and slick tyres were introduced for the first time. That made the racing faster and louder, although the cars were still heavily based on road-going machines.
Fords were still a regular front-row fixture, and New Zealand racer Frank Gardner clinched the 1968 title using two: he started the season in a Cortina Lotus, before switching to an Alan Mann-run Escort. Gardner is pictured above in 1969, when Alec Poole won the title in a Class A Mini.
1977: Unett leads the way as Avengers assemble titles
By the mid-1970s new regulations meant the larger engined entrants, including the American V8-powered cars, were banished from the series. That meant small models such as the VW Golf and Hillman/Chrysler Avenger featured, with the latter winning three championships in the hands of Bernard Unett (pictured right).
1978: Mini man Longman claims back-to-back titles
While newer and more advanced family cars dominated the field by the late seventies, the dinky Mini still claimed plenty of success. The factory supported Patrick Motorsport 1275GT driven by Richard Longman (above) usurped Unett’s Avenger in 1978. Longman defended his crown the following year.
1979: Spice shines in Capri
The demise of the big V8s saw the Ford Capri emerge as the front-runner in the largest engine category. Stuart Graham’s Faberge Racing Capri (above) enjoyed plenty of success, while Gordon Spice took five successive class titles in one.
1979: Triumph can sprint with the best
The Triumph Dolomite Sprint was a plucky – if ultimately not class-leading – BTCC racer in the 1970s. Andy Rouse (pictured in 1979) took the 1975 title in the Brit-built saloon, however.
1982: Capri vs SD1
The upper capacity limit was raised to 3500cc in 1980, allowing the V8-powered Rover SD1 and Vitesse to battle the Capris for race wins. The championship was still class-based though, and Win Percy claimed 1982 honours in a Class C Toyota Corolla.
1984: Longman delivers on the track
Richard Longman had plenty of success in the BTCC, winning the championship twice in 1978 and 1979 with a Mini. Here is he pictured in 1984, where he was class C champion in the Royal Mail Datapost Ford Escort.
1984: Longman heads the flying Fords
Ford sustained its massive presence in the sport for decades. In 1985 there were more Escorts on the grid than any other model.
1985: Rouse seals his fourth championship
Andy Rouse is one of the BTCC's most successful drivers. He clinched four championships and 60 race wins - a record that stood for years until it was eclipsed by Jason Plato. He's pictured here winning his fourth championship in 1985, driving a Ford Sierra XR4Ti.
1987: Hodgetts does double for Toyota
During the 1980s more foreign manufacturers arrived in the championship to prove the potential of their latest vehicles on track. Japanese marques such as Toyota and Mazda proved very competitive. Chris Hodgetts clinched back-to-back titles in a Class D Toyota Corolla in 1986 and '87.
1993: Super Touring brings in the manufacturers
In the 1990s, increased TV coverage brought about a wider audience, particularly on BBC Grandstand, and many found the class-based format too confusing. In 1990 the BTCC introduced a class for cars with 2.0-litre engines and strict limits on modifications and, by the following year, the series exclusively featured the Super Touring cars.
The relatively affordable class proved hugely popular with manufacturers and fans - who loved the close racing between the evenly matched machines - and the regulations were adopted by the FIA, world motorsport's governing body, and introduced in touring car championships worldwide.
By 1993, marques including Ford (leading), Vauxhall, BMW, Peugeot, Renault, Nissan and Mazda were all battling for glory.
1995: Volvo ditches the estate
Volvo caused a stir in 1994 when it ran an estate version of the 850 in the championship. It caught the eye, but only achieved limited success. The following year the firm switched to the saloon version, and Rickard Rydell quickly became a race winner and title challenger. John Cleland won that year's title in a Vauxhall.
1995: Cleland claims his second title
John Cleland's 1995 championship was his second, but came in a very different fashion to his first. His original title win in in 1989, when he dominated Class C in an Astra GTE. Six years later, the Scotsman battled door handle-to-door handle with some of the world's finest drivers as the popularity of the BTCC continued to soar.
1996: Audi dominates with quattro
Audi had won numerous Super Touring car championships around the world when it finally arrived in the BTCC in 1996, and Frank Biela promptly clinched the title for the firm at its first attempt. Biela won eight races and secured the crown by a huge margin, causing plenty of arguments over the balance between the front-wheel-drive cars used by most firms and the four-wheel-drive quattro.
Biela returned in 1997, but a weight penalty blunted his title defence - although he still won five races.
1997: Menu wins it for Renault
Swiss driver Alain Menu was a dominant champion in 1997, winning the first four races of the season - and 12 in total - to wrap up the crown in his works Renault Laguna. That said, Menu was upstaged by his young team-mate Jason Plato in qualifying for the first race of the season: Plato claimed pole for his first BTCC race at Donington Park (pictured). Plato finished third in the points behind Audi's Frank Biela.
1998: Big names flock to the BTCC
By 1998, Super Touring was at it peak and the championship grid was filled by experienced and well-paid works drivers. Rickard Rydell (centre, holding trophy) wemerged from the competitive pack as champion in his Volvo S40.
1998: Volvo vs Nissan
The 1998 season featured a season-long battle between Rickard Rydell (Volso S40) and Anthony Reid (Nissan Primera). Reid won more races - topping the podium seven times, compared to Rydell's five victories - but the Swede's greater consistency helped him clinch the title.
Notably, the 1998 season featured in the TOCA 2 computer game - inspiring many of the drivers on the current BTCC grid.
1999: Boullion goes from F1 to tin-tops
By the late 1990s, the BTCC was at its height, attracting high-profiles teams and drivers from elsewhere in the motorsport world. The works Renault Lagunas were run by the Williams F1 team, who signed up former grand prix test driver (and sometimes Sauber F1 racer) Jean-Christophe Boullion to partner Jason Plato.
Showing just how tough touring cars were, Boullion's F1 experience counted for little and he only scored a single podium during the season.
1999: Neal cashes in
One of the most famous race wins of the Super Touring era came in 1999, when Matt Neal scored a race win in the Donington Park season-opener. Neal was driving for his family Team Dynamics squad, and his win secured a £250,000 bonus series bosses had put up for any driver from the Independents class to take a race win against the might of the works teams.
Neal would go on to be a multiple title-winner, while Dynamics now run the works Honda entry.
2000: the end of an era
By the year 2000, the soaring costs of the Super Touring formula had caused a manufacturer exodus, and only Ford, Honda and Vauxhall fielded teams. To make up the numbers, organisers added a Class B for cheaper production-based cars. Despite this dramatic moment at Donington Park, Alan Morrison clinched that class in his Peugeot 306.
2001: Vauxhall dominates thin grids
The start of the 21st century was a turbulent time for the sport, with new series promoters introducing measures to slash costs, with new BTC-T cars. Only Vauxhall, Peugeot and MG fielded teams, and the Astra Coupe proved dominant with the works team or the customer Egg Sport operation winning all but one race.
There was at least an entertaining title battle between team-mates Jason Plato and Yvan Muller (pictured), beginning a long rivalry between the pair. Plato ended the season as the champion.
2003: Showing signs of growth
By 2003, there were four works teams, with Vauxhall, Honda and MG all running three cars. The action was closer, but Vauxhall was still the team to beat, with Yvan Muller winning the title ahead of team-mate James Thompson.
2004: Turkington picked up by RAC
Colin Turkington moved up the rankings in the early 2000s. He made his debut in 2002 running a WSR-run MG ZS for Team Atomic Kitten – yes, there was a BTCC named after a middling girl group – before moving up to the works MG for 2003, taking his first race win. When the manufacturer reduced its backing for 2004 RAC stepped in as title sponsor for the outfit.
Turkington would win the title for the team in 2009, adding a second crown with WSR (by then running BMWs) in 2014.
2006: Neal wins in Integra
Team Dynamics sourced Honda Integra Type-Rs to run for the 2005 season, with Matt Neal clinching his first outright title. He then defended his crown a year later (pictured here on the right, battling with Team RAC's Colin Turkington and fellow Integra racer Gareth Howell).
2008: George adds to the drama
The BTCC was also known for a high number of dramatic crashes. John George in an ex-Matt Neal Honda Integra ended his 2008 season with a spectacular shunt at Brands Hatch. He managed to escape from several high-speed barrel rolls with only bruising.
2012: Shedden scores his first title
After years of competitive racing in the BTCC, Gordon Shedden finally took the title in 2012 at the wheel of a works Honda Civic.
2012: bring on the Next Generation
By 2012, the BTCC was on the rise again, with Next Generation Touring Car (NGTC) rules allowing works teams and independents to compete on an affordble and relatively level playing field. That attracted the likes of MG, who returned with a Triple Eight run squad and start driver Jason Plato (pictured left). The rules also allowed the likes of rising star Frank Wrathall to battle in a privately run Toyota Avensis.
2012: Shedden celebrates
Shedden celebrates clinching his first crown in the 2012 season finale.
2014: Turkington back on top
Reunited with the WSR team, Colin Turkington claimed his second championship in 2014, driving an eBay motors-backed BMW 125i M Sport.
2017: Sutton causes a stir
While the 2017 season didn't go all to plan for Ash Sutton (pictured), the Subaru driver stunned the paddock when he wrapped up the championship at the age of 24, becoming the youngest driver to win the crown since John Fitzpatrick in 1966.
2017: BTCC back to its best
With numerous young drivers on the grid and equally balanced cars, the racing in the current BTCC era is as action-packed and entertaining as it has ever been, helping win over trackside spectators and television viewers.
2017: Full grids make great racing
Rob Austin (right) and Michael Epps (left) battle at the head of a baying pack of tin-tops.
2017: Sutton heads the new generation
Ash Sutton's shock title in in 2017 has made him a star, but he's just one of a number of young drivers causing a stir in the championship.
2018: Still strong at 60
The BTCC has changed dramatically since its first season 60 years ago, but it still features some of the finest drivers in the country racing flat-out in saloon cars. And with its popularity still strong, it shows no signs of fading any time soon.