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  Fiat S.74      

  Article Image gallery (35) 1 Specifications  
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Country of origin:Italy
Produced from:1911 - 1912
Numbers built:6
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 25, 2014
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Click here to download printer friendly versionFiat's early racing cars were many things but they were certainly not subtle. The Italian engineers had determined the easiest way to success was by simply increasing the engines' displacement. While big and burly, these mighty machines were also refined in detail, which make the Fiat Grand Prix cars of the late 1900s and early 1910s some of the finest of their era.

One of the reasons, the Fiat competition cars of this period featured such big engines was the absence of organised road racing in Europe after the 1908 French Grand Prix. This prompted Fiat to focus their attention on record attempts and hill climbs before returning to constructing Grand Prix cars towards the end of 1909. The first of these was the Tipo S.61, which was developed in 1909 and first raced in 1910.

The four-cylinder engine used in the S.61 was designed by former Isotta Fraschini engineers Gaetano Stefanini and Giuseppe Coda. Thanks to a startling bore and stroke of 130 mm and 190 mm respectively, it displaced just over 10 litres. As mentioned earlier, there was more to these engines than their sheer size as they featured a single overhead camshaft, actuating four valves per cylinder, while twin-spark ignition was also used.

The massive and sophisticated engine was mounted in a conventional channel-section steel ladder frame. A four-speed gearbox was mated to a separate gear-bevel box, which featured sprockets on either side. These were connected to the rear wheels through large chains. Rigid axles with semi-elliptic leaf springs were used on both ends. Stopping power was provided by two contracting bands on the transmission, which were water-cooled.

Clothed in a rudimentary body, the first S.61s were shipped to the United States as there still were no suitable races for the car on the European continent in 1910. Three examples were entered in the 1910 American Grand Prize at Savannah. Felice Navarro set the fastest lap but eventually all Fiats were forced to retire due to mechanical issues and a crash. While new cars were already under development, Victor Hémery won the 1911 Grand Prix de France at Le Mans with an S.61.

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  Article Image gallery (35) 1 Specifications