Oh, the editor is going to have me in for a chat over this. Here we are, a website that prides ourselves on bringing you news of electric cars that whir around, spewing nothing into the atmosphere but a few electrons, and then I go and put up something that glorifies a snorting, fire-breathing, fossil fuel–sucking anomaly like the Fiat S76, popularly known as The Beast of Turin. The car was said to be the world’s fastest automobile in 1911.
Just two S76s were produced. They were intended to snatch the records for the flying kilometer and flying mile from the ‘Blitzen’ Benzes. The S76 achieved the mile record with Pietro Bordino at the wheel at Saltburn Sands in 1911 and was officially recorded at over 135 mph on a kilometer attempt at Oostenede in Belguim, only to be denied the record as it was unable to complete a return run within the specified one hour.
One car was dismantled by Fiat after the First World War to prevent rival manufacturers from obtaining its technical secrets, according to the Goodwood Festival of Speed website. The other was purchased by Russian aristocrat Boris Soukhanov and eventually made its way to Australia, where it was modernized and campaigned as a ‘Fiat Racing Special.’
Enthusiast engineer Duncan Pittaway brought the chassis back to the UK in 2003 and reunited it with the original 28.5-litre, four-cylinder engine from the dismantled car. He planned to run it at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last year, but the car refused to start. Pittaway took the car back to his home near Bristol and finally got it running at the end of last year.
Filmmaker Stefan Marjoram, who had been documenting the restoration, was on hand to record the event, as the enormous engine came to life for the first time in a century. Marjoram was able to film the car as it drove under its own power for the first time in a century, bucking and snorting all the way. What fun!