Fiat has made the largest four-cylinder engine in the world
We live in times when it is "popular" to make the smallest possible unit with (too) high power
We live in times when it is "popular" to make the smallest possible unit with (too) high power. Far from being loved by anyone, one can hear criticism every day about how such engines are no less economical than the big ones, and at the same time significantly reduce their possible lifespan. The manufacturers themselves are not thrilled, but they know that this is the only way to meet the stricter laws regarding exhaust gases.
But, long ago, especially in the period before the Second World War, the unwritten rule was that there is no substitute for engine volume, and if you wanted more power, all you had to do was take a bigger hammer and increase the volume of the unit. We have seen cars with eight, twelve and even sixteen cylinders in series production.
However, the word "serial" may not have been happily chosen since only two copies were produced, and part belonged to Fiat and its forgotten 1976 S76 Record model.
It all started a year earlier when the German company Benz & Cie (the predecessor of today's Mercedes) debuted with the Blitzen Benz model. It was powered by a huge 21.5-liter four-cylinder petrol engine that developed 200 horsepower, and the French driver Victor Hémery managed to reach a speed of 228 km / h behind his wheel.
That figure was a world record and Fiat wanted to surpass it. His S76 model was 3.7 meters long, but special attention was drawn to the height, necessary to accommodate the huge unit. Although still with four cylinders, the volume was as much as 28.5 liters, which is a record that stands to this day, in the category for an engine with so many cylinders. He developed a total of 290 "horses", and the power was transmitted to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission.
The first test followed at the end of 1910, and the driver Felice Nazzaro stated that the "Monster from Turin" (yes, he really had such a nickname) was impossible to control due to the weight of 1.7 tons. A year later, the Italian vehicle manufacturer completed another copy, and it was delivered to Russian Prince Boris Soukanov.
This one hired Italian driver Pietro Bordino to test the S76 on the legendary English track Brooklands Motor Racing. Bordino said the car was so unstable that he refused to drive it at speeds higher than 145 km / h. After additional tests on the Island, in order to improve the aerodynamics, the S76 was sent to Belgium with a new driver, the American Arthur Duray.
It reached 213 km / h, but also expressed concern about the instability of Fiat due to the probably high mass. The American also refused to try to reach higher speeds and broke the record of the German rival.
At the beginning of the First World War, the racing career was "frozen", and the Italian giant disassembled the first copy and hid it in a safe place. The other, which belonged to the Russian prince, was sold to a private buyer in Australia, where he received a new engine from the company Stutz and was tested in detail. However, his career came to an end in the early twenties when he was destroyed in a collision.
On the other hand, the first copy survived in parts, but the original engine was largely lost. The chassis was bought by a man named Duncan Pittaway, and after a long search, he found one of the six engines that Fiat originally produced, but which were never used.
A detailed restoration followed before it was shown to the public in 2015. Pittaway was also met by Fiat itself, which supplied him with technical solutions so that he could recreate some parts that were missing from the original "machine" under his own direction.
At the end of the day, the S76 failed to break the German record set in the speed category, but for more than a century it has kept another record - that of the largest four-cylinder engine ever produced. And that fact alone is impressive, isn't it?