TG.com rides shotgun in Fiat’s 21.7-litre demon
Behold, the aircraft-engined 1908 ‘Mephistopheles’, built to break records and scare humans
Posted: 20 Jun 2011
The reason for its preposterous, Neolithic volume can be traced back to the car's roots, and a fascinating story about an Englishman who liked going very fast indeed. A pre-war speed demon with as much regard for personal safety as Jeremy has for the Toyota Prius.
In 1922, a man named John Duff was competing at Brooklands in a 1908 Fiat SB4; a Fiat SB4 with both eyes fixed firmly on collecting its retirement pension. History will tell you the Fiat suffered a breakdown at Brooklands forcing Duff to retire and the Fiat to rethink its life. Legend will tell you the 18-litre engine suffered a catastrophic failure as one of the cylinder blocks exploded, headed for space and took some bonnet with it.