The screaming V8 Judd-powered BMW E36

This is no ordinary BMW 320i. It’s a continued work of almost constant evolution from a man who is widely regarded as the one of the most respected hill climber’s of his generation. Georg Plasa pretty much dominated European hill climbing from 2003 – 2009. So, you might well be asking, what made the car such a vicious competitor in the very top tier of the German and Austrian FIA Hillclimb Cup? In a word –  a V8. And what a V8 it is.  A seminal work of 10,200rpm redline lunacy that displaces 3278cc and originates from the lofty heights of F1, Le Mans and the fabled workshops of Engine Developments Ltd, thanks to it’s JUDD range of power plants.

For those who don’t know hill climbing is generally a form of amateur motorsport. In fact it’s safe to say its the oldest form of motorsport to have graced the planet – Shelsley Walsh in Worcestershire reports events taking place as early as 1905, while La Turbie near Nice recalls events being staged on 31 January 1897, so it’s safe to say it’s intrinsically linked to the birth of the motor car. The aim is quite simple - get to the top of the hill as quickly as possible. The machines used for the job are generally sub-divided into different classes based upon engine size, suspension modifications, chassis design, body type etc, but fundamentally the unlimited class of European hill climbing is equivalent to F1 on track.

 For Georg Plasa that meant he had to build, modify, fund and maintain his E36 BMW on a comparative shoestring budget, but thanks to his good friend Klaus Wohlfarth (the KW of KW Automotive) he was able to compete and excel in his Elite class for more than a decade. Even now this world famous E36 still holds track records for St Agatha and Mickhausen, something that was backed up recently during a commemorative trip to the Goodwood Festival of Speed where it completed the famous hillclimb in 46.43 seconds, placing Joerg Weidinger in third place overall in the King of the Hill category and just 2.5 seconds behind the winning Volkswagen ID R Pikes Peak electric prototype. The story of which can be seen in the film below.

Sadly Georg lost his life in 2011 at the 50th Coppa Bruno Carotti in Italy following a crash in his BMW 1-series, JUDD V8 powered hill climber. His death had a huge impact upon Klaus Wohlfarth, so when Georg’s brother contacted Klaus and said several race teams were interested in purchasing the E36, it was only natural for Klaus to get first refusal. His good friend Klaus employed the services of the entire motorsport community to resurrect this work of art, and it’s a fitting testament to a man who was loved by many, respected by more and ultimately changed the face of European hill climbing forever. Images: © Chris Wallbank  / Frozenspeed. Source: