Anyone who cares about cars knows very well what those numbers stamped on the trunk lid mean: 1.0, 1.6, 2.0. They can also be seen on the side as 2500, 4100. These are numbers that inform the volumetric capacity of the engine.
That is, 1.0 means that the car has an engine with 1,000 cubic centimeters of displacement. It is the total volume of all the compression chambers in the block.
Today everyone knows that engines are slowing down. The old 2.0 gave way to new engines with a 1.0, 1.3 or 1.4 turbo. It’s called downsizing, an engineering race to produce more efficient cars.
But in 1923, a century ago, there were no such concerns. At that time the idea was to make the car go faster. And that’s what pilot Ernest Eldridge did after he bought a scrap Fiat SB4.
The car was involved in an accident in 1922, after one cylinder exploded and destroyed the engine, with pilot John Duff inside. Eldridge saw that it was possible to save the car and make it go faster.
Several months later, a pilot knocked on Fiat’s door and asked for the A.12 engine, which the Italian brand produced for its aerospace division. So he installed a huge inline six-cylinder engine with a ridiculous 21.7 liters of displacement.
That’s right, there are about 22 1.0 engines in one block. The power was 320 hp, a good number for that time and necessary to keep the plane in the air.
The car was ready in 1923. Putting the air barrier in the Fiat was quite a job. Because it was an Italian car, its livery was red. At that time cars were distinguished by the colors of their nationality. That’s why Ferrari is still red today.
In July 1924 Fiat would make a triumphant entry in Arpajon, France. With that raw and scary car, and painted red, everyone was scared by the apocalyptic noise of the engine.
And the nickname came almost immediately. Mephistopheles, one of the nicknames of the Bad Thing. The car reached a speed of 230.5 km / h. Something unusual for the 1920s. The maximum speed that the Italian crane reached was 234.97 km / h, a work that made the example go down in history.