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HCOTY – The Beast of Turin Fiat S76

Alan Cesar December 22, 2014 Hooniversal Car of the Year 20 Comments

[Source image: Stefan Marjoram]

The initial ignition blast torqued the whole chassis as though it were absorbing the impact of a missile. A gentleman revved the engine and made adjustments as sparks shot from its open exhaust ports, dropping deafening sonic assaults upon everyone present. Microphones failed to completely capture the unholy racket. When watching the video, the recording’s audio distortion gives the best indication as to the actual volume and ferocity of this — the word is overused, but nothing is more appropriate here — this monstrous engine. It was the first time the Beast of Turin had belched flame in more than a century.

300 horsepower was a huge achievement in 1911, but the car was unable to set the speed records Fiat hoped for. [Image: The Old Motor]

In the top-speed wars of the early 20th century, building bigger engines was key to making more power.  had broken the 200 kph (125 mph) barrier with its 21.5-liter, 200 horsepower Blitzen Benz, hitting 131.7 mph. Fiat built the Beast specifically to outpace the Benz. Just two of these model S76 machines were built, each bearing an incomprehensibly massive 28.35-liter four-cylinder engine. That’s 1729 cubic inches for those of you who only speak ‘murrican numbers, or one entire Chevy ‘s displacement per cylinder if you don’t speak numbers at all.

That’s a 7.5-inch bore and nearly 10-inch stroke. [Image: Stefan Marjoram]

If you’ve been on the Internet at all this year, you’ve probably  I mentioned. It’s a trailer for the documentary slated for release in February 2015, and it is fabulous. This restored masterpiece cannibalized the chassis from one and the engine from the other of the two original S76s. The four-speed gearbox and a lot of the bodywork has been remade from scratch using the original drawings and photos.

 Before this, I bet you thought four-bolt mains were serious business. [Image: Stefan Marjoram]

That engine is simultaneously the highlight and lowlight of this machine. It takes 3 spark plugs to ignite the fuel in each of those 7.5-inch-diameter combustion chambers. All that displacement and noise delivers about 300 horsepower at a tractor-like 1900 rpm. At its top-speed test in 1911, it managed 132.27 mph in one direction, besting the Benz, but it was unable to make a second pass in the other direction before they ran out of time.

The chassis is the first of two that Fiat made. The engine came from the second car. [Image: Stefan Marjoram]

By the following year, huge-displacement engines were made obsolete by volumetric efficiency. Peugeot’s positively puny 7.6-liter DOHC inline-4 in their L76 race car made 130 horsepower at a comparatively lofty 2200 rpm. To this day, the Fiat’s engine is the largest ever designed for a road-going vehicle, but though it had 4 valves per cylinder and a single overhead cam, it was quickly made a dinosaur. In terms of specific output (that is, horsepower per liter, or “that thing RX-7 guys go on and on about”), the Peugeot was nearly twice as efficient.

The oil sump looks large enough to be a semi truck’s fuel tank. [Image: Stefan Marjoram]

Duncan Pittaway, the current owner of the car, has been restoring the Fiat for more than 10 years. He showed it at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July, though the engine wasn’t yet complete and running at the time. The behemoth rightly earned quite a lot of attention there, but it wasn’t until the video of it firing up hit the Internet that the greater automotive world took notice. Now we eagerly await the release of the documentary. Perhaps your wife will get you something nice for Valentine’s Day.

Take a bit of time to browse stories on this car at  and , watch the , and peruse the , the man who’s creating the documentary. You will not be disappointed.

And remember, vote Beast of Turin for 2014 Hooniversal Car of the Year.

[Source: , , .]

  • Sjalabais

    I could watch the engine firing all day. The trailer really is a teaser in its intended meaning – looking forward to the whole docu!

    • Eric Rood

      The intensity of it is just completely unbelievable. It looks like it would kill its driver at idle just from the insane vibration.

      • Sjalabais

        That's exactly it! Instant chesthair explosion for everyone looking so relaxed next to it as the guy in Tanshanomi's gif.

        • Alan Cesar

          I think that guy is the only person wearing earplugs in the whole video.

    • "I could watch the engine firing all day."

      Now you can.

      <img src=";

      • skitter

        Looks like a sci-fi weapon.

        • HSA❄

          It simply must appear in the next Iron Sky movie.

      • Sjalabais

        Wow, thanks!, love it. Wonder if it works as a phone background…

  • boostedlegowgn

    I feel like this is a shoe-in for HCOTY '15…

    • Rover_1

      HCOTY 1915 or HCOTY 2015?

      • boostedlegowgn

        I just feel like it's not quite ready yet. We need to see it out on the road again.

        • Alan Cesar

          Firing up after 100 years is epic enough for me. I suspect any video of it in motion next year will be underwhelming compared to this.

  • Holy mother of all that is good…

  • HSA❄

    Who said inline fours are good for nothing?

  • Prince Halibrand

    Volumetric efficiency? This thing could shove "volumetric efficiency" up your ass.

    • Eric Rood

      Only if you had a voluminous ass.

  • cap'n fast

    well….I'm not totally speechless. it only took one hundred years for tony to fix it again and it was worth the wait. the sound level must be appalling do we know if they used period correct fuels?

    • Rover_1

      Fuels back then were about 30 octane. That engine would probably run on paraffin mixed with petrol.

    • Alan Cesar

      It didn't take 100 years to rebuild it. It took 90 years for someone to decide to rebuild it, and then 10 years to find the blueprints, track down any unobtainium parts that might still exist, restore what was restorable, fabricate what was not available (including a complete transmission), and then make it run. The current owner bought what was left of the first car in 2003, and later bought what was left of the second car.

  • Three hundred horsepower driving two 5 inch wide (127mm) baloney tires. I'm going to hand my batshit crown to that guy.