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Watch A 28.5L Fiat Start For The First Time In A Century And Be Afraid

When most people — especially in the US — think of Fiat, they picture small cars. Little tiny baubles with watch-like engines. That, of course, isn’t remotely close to the truth. There was a time when Fiat built giants, like the Beast of Turin — a 28.5L racer designed to break a speed record. And it’s just been fired up for the first time since 1911.


There were just two Fiat S76 record-breakers built in 1910 and 1911, and this one that has just been rebuilt and restored, appears to be a mix of those two cars. The record the car was designed to break was the land speed record then held by Blitzen-Benz. Fiat attacked that record with not just the sheer, insane scale of that 28.5L engine, but also with some genuinely advanced tech — four valves per cylinder, multi-spark, overhead cam, and all this added up to somewhere near 300 HP — that’s astounding for 1910.

Illustration for article titled Watch A 28.5L Fiat Start For The First Time In A Century And Be Afraid

Oh, and two other things — it eventually set that 116 MPH land speed record, and those 28,500cc are divided between a mere four cylinders. Those cylinders must be the size of trash cans.

This Italian titan has been lovingly restored by Duncan Pittway, who had hoped to have it done by the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year. That didn’t quite happen, but after watching this video of the car finally being started up, and hearing the monstrous belches and fire-farts from that unmuffled exhausts, I’m pretty sure if they really wanted to they could use this beast to rip space-time a new timehole and go back to make it in time.

Just look at the scale of that thing; the guy turning that starting crank is one brave mothercranker. One backfire would probably have flung him into a low orbit. This is really an amazing piece of motoring history and I’m delighted to see that after 104 years, it’s back, scaring us all.

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the initial jolt when that thing came alive looked like it was enough to topple the car.

Anyone has a tutorial for this kind of starting procedure? I don't quite grasp why he cranked it, and then there was a split second of nothing (enough for the guy to back away) before it fired up.