Formula 1

The Fiat Mefistofele and its 21.7-Liter Inline-Six

Back in 1908, Sir Ernest Eldridge witness Fiat racing their SB4 chain-driven Grand Prix racer. After buying the car and returning to Britain, he wanted to turn it into a speed record breaker. Only thing was that its 18.0-liter was deemed too small by Eldridge. So does he go ahead and do? Replace it with a liquid-cooled Fiat-built 21.7-liter inline-six-cylinder with 320 hp at 1,800 rpm. He upgraded it by adding four valves and four spark plugs on each cylinder.

He also had to lengthen the chassis to accommodate the new engine with parts from a London bus. It was chain-driven and only had brakes at the rear, stupefying experts even today as to how the mechanism to go in reverse worked. Unfortunately, there's no trace of it remaining. On July 12, 1924, the Mefistofele, driven by Eldridge himself, set the world land speed record in Arpajon, France. At a speed of 146 mph, the 2 ton, 5.1 meter long car entered the history books. Today, the car is on display at the Centro Storico Fiat in Turin and is still completely functional.

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