HomeCar CultureFlame-throwing 1910 Fiat, the ‘Beast of Turin,’ will be driven at London...

Flame-throwing 1910 Fiat, the ‘Beast of Turin,’ will be driven at London show


The notorious, fire-spewing 1910 Fiat S76 speed-record car known as the “Beast of Turin” will thunder and quake on The Grand Avenue automotive catwalk at the 2018 London Classic Car Show, to be held February 15-18.

The appearance of one of the world’s most-famous early racers will be a highlight at ExCeL London among the 60 vintage Specials, “unique machines that are steeped in history and mystique owing to their exclusive designs and often outlandish performance,” according to a car show news release.

Two Beasts of Turin, powered by behemoth 28.5-liter four-cylinder engines, were created by Fiat to break speed records. They were at the time the fastest cars in the world.

The restored Beast, with its strikingly tall engine cowl housing the huge powerplant, appears strangely ungainly. Yet these cars were driven successfully at speed in their day and the survivor runs now during vintage-car demonstrations, when flame erupts from its open exhaust ports with a bellowing roar.

“While the remarkable cubic capacity in itself remains astonishing, the in-line four cylinder also boasts some pretty cutting-edge hardware for its era with four valves per cylinder, multi-spark and overhead-cam technology helping it spit out something in the region of 300bhp,” the release says.

“Boasting so much beef and brawn, it was no surprise when the first of these colossal chain-driven Edwardian monsters – by now fittingly nicknamed ‘The Beast of Turin’ – was clocked at 116 mph on Salburn Sands, Yorkshire in 1911, breaking the world flying one-mile speed record.

Beast of Turin: the flame throwing 1910 Fiat will be driven at London show
The antique Fiat racer is a riotous crowd pleaser | Stefan Marojam

“A considerably faster milestone of 134.6 mph was achieved a couple of years later at Ostend, but by then the rules had changed and that ‘record’ was discounted when the car failed to make its now mandatory return run.”

After their heyday, the Beasts disappeared from view until British enthusiast Duncan Pittaway found the decrepit chassis of the first one built in Australia. The engine of the second car was located among a pile of old parts in a Fiat factory, nearly a century after the Italian automaker had scrapped the car to prevent rivals from stealing its technical secrets.

Pittaway and his team restored the gargantuan red vehicle over a 6-year period, and the collector has driven the Fiat in demonstrations, where it has never failed to awe spectators.

“It’s a pretty special car,” he said in the release. “With its bull nose and pointy tail, it was the first to have any streamlining and must have looked like a spaceship in its day.

“There were no Grands Prix back then, so Fiat and other manufacturers just wanted to build the fastest possible cars. They were still going down the blind alley that the bigger the engine capacity, the faster the potential speed – and the S76 is the very last of those big-engined machines.”

The Fiat will join 59 other historic Specials that will thunder on The Grand Avenue inside ExCeL hall during the London Classic Car Show, which event director Bas Bungish said will be incredible to see and hear.

“London is famous for its world-class theatre, but I can’t believe that the West End has ever seen anything quite as dramatic as this,” Bungish said. “Believe me, it’s going to be an utterly dumbfounding experience, an epic phenomenon no one with even the slightest interest in cars of any vintage will want to miss.”

For information about the London Classic Car Show, visit the event website.

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.


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