Four years ago, when Lord March relaunched the Members' Meeting at Goodwood, the Beast of Turin wasn't quite ready yet. Nor for the Festival of Speed. By the time Duncan Pittaway could finally fire up what the archives refer to as the Fiat S76, the next event in the calendar was the 2015 Festival of Speed. But there, they made history, again. You must have heard this story before.
In case you haven't, the job took them roughly a decade because we are talking about a 106-year-old prototype here. Restoring such machinery is challenging not only because of the custom parts, but also because in order for Fiat to beat the land speed records, the Italians upgraded their four-cylinder with such cutting-edge technologies as a head with four valves per cylinder, complete with twin-spark ignition. They built only two, one of which was clocked doing 135mph in 1913. Then the war came. Fiat disassembled the cars to make sure nobody could copy them.
How the first chassis ended up in Australia with a different engine remains a mystery, but after Duncan acquired it, he needed the 28.3 liter four-cylinder out of the second chassis to build one working example out of the two. This second S76 was retained by Fiat, who also shared their blueprints with the Edwardian community.
Of course, The Beast of Turin isn't Pittaway's only car older than any of your living relatives. In fact, I believe he told me about having at least ten projects (as well as two children) last year, when he won the S. F. Edge Trophy during the Members's Meeting driving his 1921 GN Curtiss 'Vitesse'. His tiny cyclecar won by just 0.230 seconds after eight laps around the Goodwood Circuit, followed by a 1923 Delage DHV12 and a massive Sunbeam Indianapolis from 1916.
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At this year's Members' Meeting, however, Duncan Pittaway got back to taming the beast, which is geared to do 130 mph at 1000 rpm. Compared to a drive from Bristol to Goodwood, a few laps around the Circuit are nothing to write home about, really...