What is “The Beast of Turin”? We’re glad you asked. That title was colloquially bestowed upon the 1911 Fiat S76, which was brought into this world to do one thing: break a land-speed record. The 1909 Blitzen Benz held the record at the time, but Fiat was keen on trouncing the record. And they did it.
The 1911 S76 was able to clock a 135-mph top speed in 1911 with its gargantuan 28.5-liter inline-4-cylinder engine producing around 300 horsepower. The power of 300 horses in 1911...let that sink in for a moment.
Not only does that engine displacement look scary on paper, but it sounds scary, too. The 28.5-liter spits flames like there’s no tomorrow and sounds angrier than a flock of Abarths ever could. The accompanying video makes it clear that surprising onlookers and scaring traffic are quite easy with the S76.
The owner of the incredible machine, Duncan Pittaway, decided to awaken the beast for a trip to the Goodwood Festival of Speed after a century of dormancy. The trip took Pittaway 150 miles from Bristol to Goodwood, marking the vehicle’s longest trip ever, with just the S76’s beastly noises as a soundtrack.
His observations about the journey are quite interesting. At 300-400 rpm, the car is traveling at highway speeds. At 1,000 rpm, it's at 128 mph. It's scary to start. It doesn't like to go slow. And the clutch is overly complicated, and, as we see, quite fussy.
Pittaway spent 10 years restoring the S76, which remains as the only surviving example of the two built before World War I. And not only did Pittaway drive it to Goodwood, he raced the S76 in the S.F. Edge Trophy race for Edwardian-era grand prix cars.
It’s these kinds of people we salute, because they preserve the history of the automobile and remind us of the incredible engineering that was going on even a century ago.