Taming a V-8 powered sports car isn’t necessarily the easiest task ever, but modern day technology makes it simpler than ever for novice drivers to climb behind the wheel.
Back in 1911, it took a little more skill—and a lot more elbow grease.
The 1911 Fiat S76 is colloquially known as the “Beast of Turin,” thanks to its massive 28-liter inline-4 engine. The giant engine was able to produce 300 horsepower—in 1911. It could also top out at 135 mph, and achieved a land-speed record by doing so.
So, what’s it like to drive? “It’s like wrestling a big, hairy gorilla,” driver Duncan Pittaway said of the experience. The Beast of Turin made an appearance at the 75th Annual Members Meeting at Goodwood. There’s no missing the giant Fiat, either. Not only is it massive in size, but the noises it makes upon cranking the engine over—literally cranking the engine with plenty of muscles—are enough to blow ear drums a mile away. When the Fiat S76’s engine is spinning at 300-400 rpm, speeds reach highway levels. 1,000 rpm means the car is going 128 mph. A gorilla of sorts, indeed.
Pittaway spent 10 years restoring the S76 and it’s the only surviving example. Fiat built two, but it’s presumed the second no longer exists.