There’s no doubt that the 2018 running of the Goodwood Festival of Speed will be looked back on as a watershed year in the history of the event, primarily as it marked the first time that the fastest vehicle up the iconic hillclimb was powered by something other than a petrol powered, piston-shod, internal combustion engine.
While it wasn’t able to overcome the battery-powered wizardry of two of its rivals, the ex Georg Plasa Judd-V8 powered BMW E36 Coupe, driven by Jorg Weidinger, upheld ICE-honour by netting the third fastest ascent of the weekend – a mighty 46.43 seconds!
Weidinger’s ferociously committed assault on the UK’s most iconic hillclilmb was very much the icing on the cake for current owner, and family friend of Plasa, Klaus Wohlfarth, one of the founders of the KW suspension brand and a man intrinsically linked with the history of this very special E36 and its sadly departed creator.
Plasa’s impact on the sport of European hillclimbing is all but impossible to overstate, with an entire generation of continental motorsport fans having been weaned on his BMW-based heroics.
Plasa’s automotive creations (the E36 you see here and its eventual, 1-Series based replacement) grew to become every bit as well-known as he was, partly thanks to their mad appearance, partly their power plants – Le Mans derived Judd KV675 V8s, complete with well over 550bhp and a manic, bone-chilling shriek as they raced to an impossibly high, 10,000RPM redline! Factor in the advanced KW suspension on both, and it becomes only too clear why Plasa’s BMW’s were so beloved.
Tragically Plasa was killed midway through an Italian event back in 2011, his 1-Series leaving the road at speed and colliding with a sheer rock face. It was a cruel way for one of European motorsport’s most beloved sons to leave this world, and one that cast a long shadow over the sport of hillclimbing for many, many years.
The good news is that KW has moved earth in order to maintain Plasa’s iconic E36 over the course of the last few years, keeping it in the same specification as its maker intended. A full restoration was concluded in the months leading up to this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, with the result being that the car, easily amongst the most recognisable race cars of its ilk, barked into life once more, just in time to uphold the honour of petrol, pistons and cams.
KW’s engineering department moved earth in order for the project to be completed in time, with many individuals gladly donating their evenings and weekends to the project, and the team’s own apprentices pulling double shifts in their own free time. It might not have been able to best the might of VW Group in the race to the top, but there’s no doubting that this KW-shod monster takes all when it comes to passion, heart and meaning.
Congratulating the team for its incredible efforts, Klaus was understandably emotional with the results. ‘We came to give Georg the run up the Goodwood hill he always wanted to do himself,’ he smiled. ‘None of us could have predicted this result, even with a driver like Jorg. To podium in this exalted company and be the fastest fuel car at this year’s event, is the finest tribute we can make to our friend Georg.’