This is an incredible car that has been written about many times in the past. It is not my intention to go much into the history of the car, but to show these pictures and the details from Michael Sedwick’s book below. This itself book is dated, being published in 1973 but the details give you a great understanding of the car itself.
My other reason for posting this is because a S.76 is being reassembled from a separate chassis and engine that has been discovered in the past. Since this is a one in a life time opportunity to study the construction of one of these racing cars, I am posting these links by talented artist Stefan Marjoram who is sketching and taking wonderful photographs of the progress on this incredible effort.
Michael Sedgwick, famous motoring historian and a member of the FIAT Register Committee, wrote the authoritative 352-page history, FIAT, published in 1973. Here follow some extracts courtesy of ehdubya a friend from New Zealand.
“The S.76 was one of the most terrifying creations to emanate from any factory. The light, almost flimsy chassis, side chain drive, four-speed gearbox and wire wheels carried on the SB4 story from 1909. Power, however, was furnished by one of the largest four-cylinder engines ever built, a 190 x 250 mm (7.480″X 9.842” 28,353 cc) overhead-camshaft affair, developing 290 b.h.p. at 1,900 rpm. Unlike ‘Mephistopheles’, the car was quite well streamlined, with an airship tail, a full undertray, and a curvaceous pear-shaped radiator which anticipated the regular style used on touring FIATS from 1913 onward. The filler cap was recessed into the shell in a manner of Vintage Beardmore cars, but in spit of this neat little touch the cap stood a clear five feet of the ground. The crew, of necessity, sat high: had the mechanic tried to look ‘round’ and not ‘over’, he would have been fried alive by the crude stub exhausts on the near side of the engine.
“Felice Nazzaro [one of the greatest drivers ever] considered the 38 cwt car ‘uncontrollable’, after testing it on the streets of Turin with Englishman Jack Scales in the mechanic’s seat. A contemporary report describes the big FIAT as ‘shooting flames in the faces of innocent pedestrians, and deafening them’. The necessary urge was, however, present, 115 m.p.h. coming up in second gear, though not, one hopes, on the Via Roma or the Corse Dante.
“It was left to Pietro Bordino to bring this monster to Brooklands in 1911, though he declined to lap over 90, and one circuit in the ‘hot seat’ was enough for Soukhanoff. The Fiat was next tried at Saltburn Sands, where a timed speed of 116 mph was reached before the brute bogged down, and only just escaped being caught by the tide.
“By this time Bordino had had enough, and Soukhanoff hired the Belgian-American Arthur Duray. Duray was willing: the problem was to find a level stretch long enough to allow the FIAT to display its undoubted talents. The A.C.F.’s Commission Sportive would not authorize the use of Arles-Salon, and no suitable Italian venue was forthcoming-one imagines that the Piedmontese, at any rate, had had their fill on the S.76’s private smog! Eventually Soukhanoff and Duray went to Ostend, a traditional home of world’s records since Louis Rigolly had first topped the ‘ton’ in his Gobron-Brillie. In December 1913, the car recorded a one-way kilometre at 132.27 m.p.h., faster than Barney Oldfield’s existing figure of 131.72 m.p.h. on the ‘Blitzen’ Benz.