The Fiat S76: a roar from “Turin’s beast”

“La Belva di Torino” (literally, “the beast from Turin”) may sound like the title of a gory novel or horror movie, but is in fact the nickname given to the legendary Fiat S76, produced in two specimens by the Turin-based carmaker in 1911. Also known as Fiat 300 HP Record, it was built to vanquish all speed records.

Only a handful of brave pilots had the opportunity – and honor – to drive this thundering steel monster, endowed with a 4-cylinder engine with a displacement of 28,353 cubic centimeters, ready to roar across every street in Europe.

Only expert drivers could command the 290 hp of the S76. In 1991, Felice Nazzaro reached 185 km/h on a road outside of the Piedmontese capital city. And that was only the beginning: a few months later, Pietro Bordino got to 200 in the UK; later, French driver Arthur Duray set a new record at 225, in Ostend, Belgium. The beast kept pushing faster and faster, until it reached 290 km/h in April 1912 on Long Island.

Its loudest roar was also its swansong: one of the two existing Fiat S76 was disassembled to avoid anyone from the competition purloining its secret. Once an Australian collector bought the last remaining one, everyone forgot about this outstanding record-breaker.

But recently, the Beast has returned to the track, and the whole world heard its thunderous roar again.

July 3, 2015