In the winter of 1910/1911, Fiat built a car to break the land speed record with. They called it the “S76″, but it earned itself the nickname “The Beast of Turin”. It was powered by a 4 cylinder 28,353 liter engine (or 1,729 cubic inches).
This isn’t the biggest car engine in history, that honor goes to the 1936 Packard-Bentley, which is powered by a 1,500 hp 42 liter V12 torpedo boat engine. But at over 7 liters each, the individual cylinders of The Beast are twice the size of the Bentley’s.
Those damned trams
The 300 hp Beast never actually broke the official land speed record. During its last attempt on the beach of Oostende, Belgium in 1913, driver Arthur Duray got it up to a record-breaking 212.87 kph (132.27 mph). But the problem was that official records are the average of two runs in opposite directions. And both runs need to take place within an hour.
Unfortunately, Duray couldn’t make his second run within the hour. He wasn’t allowed to perform his return run while there was a tram riding parallel to the beach that he raced on. And the tram driver wasn’t willing to deviate from his schedule and wait a few minutes…
The Beast rises again
Fiat actually built two of these cars. One was bought by the Russian Prince Boris Soukhanov in 1911, and went to Australia after the Russian Revolution, until it crashed in 1924. The second car (the one that almost broke the speed record in 1913) was retained by Fiat. Until in 1920, when Fiat scrapped it and only kept the engine.
In the early 2000’s, Duncan Pittaway purchased the chassis of the number 1 in Australia, and the engine of number 2, aiming to bring The Beast back to life. It has taken more than a decade to rebuild the whole thing, but recently the 28 liter monster engine was fired up again. And trust me, The Beast of Turin is as impressive and savage now as it was a century ago.
The video below is a trailer for a documentary by Stefan Marjoram to be released in February 2015. It shows the first time the engine ran again in 100 years. Make sure that your speakers are on, because the roar of this beast is like nothing you’re ever heard before…
Video and image of Duncan Pittaway by Stefan Marjoram, http://stefanmarjoram.com/