|The Nardi-Monaco 'Chichibio' of 1932, with big JAP OHV V-twin engine and front wheel drive|
Monday, July 01, 2013
Between 1936-48 Nardi worked for Scuderia Ferrari, and co-drove (as a mechanic) the first 'Ferrari' racer in the Mille Miglia of 1940. Previously he had worked at Lancia in Torino, and eventually established his small factory just down the street, on via Lancia, no doubt taking advantage of the many connections he made with the firm in building his own sports-racing cars.
Postwar, after breaking with Ferrari, he partnered with Renato Danese to create the firm 'N-D' (Nardi-Danese). Their frirst effort was the ND 750, an ultralight monoposto racing car which used a modified BMW '75M' military 750cc OHV motor. The engine was modified with unique cylinder heads, with their carbs facing forward, and seems to have retained the BMW gearbox and driveshaft, using conventional 'live axle' rear wheel drive. The chassis wasn't a true space-frame, but was triangulated using short tubes between two main frame members.
The ND 750 was very successful, winning many hillclimbs and short races in the hands of future racing stars, and as late as 1953, when Ferrari and Lancia had really sorted themselves out, an ND 750 placed 8th overall in the 22km Susa-Moncenisio hillclimb in the Alps, with a speed only 2% slower than the fastest 2-liter Ferrari racer.
Apparently, Nardi himself revised the BMW R75/M engines for racing, and cast new cylinder heads etc. The 750cc BMW engines were popular with motorcycle racers in the immediate postwar era, being fairly common and robust, and were often installed in BMW R51 motorcycle chassis to race in the 'unlimited' classes. A few were even built with home-made OHC cylinder heads, which look like giant's fists!