FIAT S76 Driven for First Time in 100 Years

May 27th, 2015 by

In 1911 the FIAT S76 was considered to be the fastest car in the world, however only two were ever built. The legendary Italian automaker produced two of these incredible cars with the sole intention of grabbing the speed and time records for both the “Flying Kilometer” and the “Flying Mile” which had long been held by the “Blitzen Benzes”.

With Italian driver Pietro Bordino at the wheel, the FIAT S76 soon took the record for the Flying Mile in 1911, recorded at Saltburn Sands. During an attempt at the Flying Kilometer heled in Oostende, Belgium, the S76 recorded a top speed of over 135 miles per hour. However, the car would be denied a record in this run simply because it was not able to complete a return run to the starting spot within the specified one-hour time limit.

What Happened to the Two FIAT S76 Automobiles?

With the outbreak of World War 1 FIAT decided to dismantle one of these legendary vehicles in an attempt to prevent their technology from falling into the hands of rival car manufacturers. The other car was then sold to a Russian aristocrat by the name of Boris Soukhanov. From his collection this car would eventually find its way to Austria where a team of engineers updated it and campaigned it as the “Great FIAT Racing Special”.

Bringing the FIAT S76 Back to Life

In 2003 racing enthusiast and engineer Duncan Pittaway brought the chassis to the United Kingdom where he would spend the next ten years restoring the automobile and reuniting it with the original 28.5 liter four-cylinder engine.  In 2014 the 1911 FIAT S76 was placed on static display for the world to see at the Festival of Speed. This marked the first time the car had been seen by the public in over 100 years.

Pittaway had hoped to fire up this amazing vehicle at the Festival, but was faced with a number of mechanical issues that prevented the “Beast of Turin” from firing up. Undaunted by this failure, Pittaway took the S76 back to his shop to continue working on it and ensuring that the next time he brought it out for a test firing, it would not balk but would instead roar back to life belching flame and smoke from all four exhaust pipes.In December of 2014 the 1911 FIAT S76 Beast of Turin finally came to life with a will, letting everyone hear just how much power it once had and why it not only received its name, but also how it was able to break the world speed records of its era. Following a successful test firing, Pittaway took the FIAT S76 back to the 1.16 mile long Goodwood Hill limb for its test run, the first time it would be drive since having been restored. For added enjoyment, Pittaway invited Lord March to ride along on the hill climb in the passenger seat.

Well-known filmmaker Stefan Marjoram chronicled the entire restoration process and captured the first drive for posterity. Once you take the time to watch his movie, you will soon see just why the 1911 FIAT S76 earned the name “The Beast of Turin”. This incredible car is truly indicative of a bygone era in which auto racing was still in its earliest stages. A time when fearless drivers would battle it out over hundreds of miles of dusty cobble stone roads that constantly threatened to shake both car and driver to death. Auto racing will never be the same, but FIAT continues to be a major player in the world racing circuit in a number of different venues and is constantly finding its place in the winner’s circle.

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