HomeThe MarketMore than a century later, famed Fiat S76 to race again

More than a century later, famed Fiat S76 to race again


Fiat S76 was built to beat the 'Blitzen Benz' | Goodwood Festival of Speed
Fiat S76 was built to beat the ‘Blitzen Benz’ | Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Fiat S76, which in 1911 was  the fastest car in the world — albeit unofficially — is scheduled to run for the first time in more than a century when it takes on the Goodhood Hillclimb at England’s famed Festival of Speed, June 26-29.

Only a pair of S76s were built, primarily to take the flying-kilometer and flying-mile records from Mercedes’ famed “Blitzen” Benzes. With Pietro Bordino driving at the Saltburn Sands in 1911, one of the S76s set a record for the mile. The same car topped 135 miles per hour on the kilometer run at Ostenede in Belgium, but was denied the official record because it was not ready to make a return run within the required one-hour time period.

Fiat S76 has been restored and will race again | Goodwood Festival of Speed
Fiat S76 has been restored and will race again | Goodwood Festival of Speed

So that rival automakers couldn’t copy the car’s technical secrets, one of the S76s was dismantled by Fiat after World War I. However, the other S76 was sold to a Russian aristocrat, Boris Soukhanov. That car eventually went to Australia, where it was updated and raced as the “Fiat Racing Special.”

Duncan Pittaway, a classic car enthusiast from Bristol, England, brought the chassis home from Australia in 2003 and united it with the 28.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that had powered the S76 that Fiat dismantled.

The car underwent a 10-year restoration that included bodywork from Roach Manufacturing of Southhampton.  Pittaway plans to drive the car up the Goodwood hill next month at the annual classic car festival.

“After restoring a Bugatti T35, I was looking for a new challenge and the S76, which is one of the more maligned cars of its generation, fitted the bill nicely,” Pittaway is quoted in the Goodwood news release. “All of the original S76 components that have survived have been restored, from the chassis and engine down to the suspension, axles, pedals, steering box, etc, with the gearbox, radiator and bodywork being created using the original Fiat drawings.

“As the last and largest of the huge-engined Edwardian monsters, it should be sensational to see,” he added.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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