This car was nicknamed “The Beast of Turin”. The Italian engineers came up with a monumental overhead valve engine of 1,730ci (28,353cc) that produced its 300bhp at 1,800rpm, yet still employed just four cylinders. The engine was so tall the driver had to almost peer around the edge of the hood, but to aid aerodynamics, it was extremely narrow.
The S76 was dispatched to Britain’s Brooklands circuit where it was put through its paces by intrepid factory driver Pietro Bordino. After a subsequent journey on public roads, it thundered to a best speed of 116mph (187kph) at Saltburn Sands, Middlesborough — setting the record for the fastest flying mile time. Fiat was satisfied, but Prince Boris Sukhanov, a wealthy Russian, was hooked on the enormous vehicle. He is thought to have acquired one of the two cars made, but too timid to drive it himself, he sponsored a record run with French driver Arthur Duray (above) at Ostend, Belgium.
It was said to have reached 137mph (220kph), but suspect timing equipment and bad weather prevented two runs within an hour — a requirement for a world record qualification. Sukhanov’s team spent a further six weeks trying in late 1913 before admitting defeat.