Monday, July 01, 2013

NARDI-BMW RACERS


The Nardi-Monaco 'Chichibio' of 1932, with big JAP OHV V-twin engine and front wheel drive
Enrico Nardi is probably best known today for his sporty motoring accessories (a 'Nardi' steering wheel is a big plus in a 50s Ferrari), but his career as a builder of racing cars is his real metier.  His 'Chichibio' of 1932 (built with Augusto Monaco) used a 998cc JAP V-twin with 65hp as the basis of a super-light (672lbs!) monoposto race car, with 10hp more than rival Alfa Romeo 1750 or a TT Replica Frazer Nash.  The big JAP motor sat transverse in front of the driver, and used a 5-speed gearbox to the front wheels.  Radical stuff for '32, and it set the pattern for Nardi's work to come.

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!


7 comments:

kotjar said...

In late 50-th In USSR was made simular cars with 500cc opposed motorcycle M52 Irbit (Ural) engines.

Cars named Estonia.

Estonia-1, Estonia-2? and Estonia-3.

Estonia 3 factory produced with a smal series.

Crazygreg said...

Remind me a little of the BMW sand racer used in Morocco for in the 70s...
http://bmway.org/bmway/racer_sable/rs_img/Racer-R69S.jpg

Crazygreg said...

Remind me a little of the BMW sand racer used in Morocco for in the 70s...
http://bmway.org/bmway/racer_sable/rs_img/Racer-R69S.jpg

The Vintagent said...

Can you find photos of these? I'm always interested in Soviet racing history...

kotjar said...

Some photos was taken this spring on Moscow oldtimer gallery.

Older photos from "Za rulem" magazine archives.

http://kotjar.spb.ru/node/350

NARDI said...

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NARDI said...

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