In 1977 German wheel manufacturer ATS expanded their horizon by entering Formula 1 racing. Led by the sometimes enigmatic Hans Gunther Schmid, the ATS team rarely proved to be more than a grid filler despite attracting some of the more talented designers and drivers. In its first season the team used two Penske PC4s, but starting 1978 the team produced their own single seater racers. Powered by the good old Cosworth V8, the ATS cars were very similar to the kit-cars that made up the bulk of the field at the turn of the decade.
Renault's Turbo revolution quickly left the Cosworth engine obsolete, and for 1983 Schmid had managed to secure an engine deal with BMW. Austrian designer Gustav Brunner penned an all carbon fibre chassis to go with the Turbo charged four cylinder engine. Despite the advanced materials and very potential engine, the ATS D6 failed to impress. In the same season the Brabham team did manage to suck the full potential out of the engine and its driver Nelson Piquet won the World Driver's Championship.
For 1984 the D6's design was modified by Brunner creating the slightly slimmer D7. Shortly after the Austrian designer left the team, as so many had done before him. Lead driver Manfred Winkelhock continued where he had left off in 1983 and again failed to score a single point. Halfway through the season he was joined by debutant Gerhard Berger and he managed to finish sixth in the Italian Grand Prix. Due to a technicality this point scoring finish was not actually converted in a World Championship point.
At the end of the season BMW ended the engine deal, leaving Schmid engine-less. This was the final blow for the German team, which retired after eight seasons and 311 appearances. Schmid returned to the sport once more in 1988 with the Brunner designed Rial, but with two points finishes in as many years, it was no improvement over his first attempt.