Once you’ve raced Formula 3, your standards for performance are raised significantly. Even the zippiest road cars seem bloated and sluggish after that, and so building a hillclimber will require stellar spec if it’s going to impress a former-F3 racer.
Carmine Tancredi raced Italian Formula 3 over a decade ago, but the fire still burns in his stomach. To appease his speed demons, he built a wild BMW E36 that has gobs of aerodynamic grip to remind him, somewhat, of his days in open-wheelers.
For one, the powerplant is not traditional. The force-fed four is the Cosworth YB out of an Escort Cosworth, and it’s been modified to produce somewhere between 600 and 700 horsepower. While that might be impressive, it isn’t the highlight of the machine. The reason Tancredi can lean into his belts as the speeds increase is due to the massive tires and that enormous diffuser splitting them, which can be seen from space. The orange paint scheme helps spotting.
To take advantage of the undertray, Tancredi needs to drive as neatly to maximize the airflow running through it. That means keeping the car reasonably straight, and avoiding any tail-out antics which might disrupt the passage of air through the diffuser, even if, well, E36s are expected to do that. That allows for incredible poise and direction change in the fastest sweepers on the 2.5-mile course in Gubbio, Italy.
As you might expect, the power delivery is quite abrupt for a 2.0-liter motor producing 700-odd horsepower, and Tancredi is delightfully measured in his application of the loud pedal. Smoothly delivering the power is a must, even at high speeds when the car is absolutely glued to the course, but at lower speeds when the wings aren’t working their magic, it’s quite easy to get on the lock stops, as Tancredi boldly demonstrates at 1:54 in the onboard footage. You’ve got to take your hat off to this fella, who’s raced some of the fastest-cornering machines in existence, and still wants more.