1905 Fiat Isotta-Fraschini Has a WWI Airship Engine and You Can Tell

1905 Fiat Isotta-Fraschini 1 photo
Photo: Screenshot from YouTube
So you think your 6.0-liter V8 engine is a monster, huh? You like bragging about how there’s no replacement for displacement? Well, in that case, the early cars of last century are what you should focus your attention on.
The race cars in particular. Since people didn’t give a rat’s ass on aerodynamics back then, the idea of making a race car revolved around putting as much power under the hood as possible. Not the most sensible approach, I know, but it seemed to work just fine at the time.

We’ve got some lumbering beast that managed to survive all these years, and they are definitely a joy to watch. This 1905 Fiat Isotta-Fraschini makes no exception, even though it’s not exactly what you would call an original car.

With records from that era hard to come by, this car was restored as best as it was possible, but I think you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks they didn’t do a good job. Current owner Briton Mike Vardy put an Isotta-Fraschini airship engine in the car, which is dated 1917. Obviously, it couldn’t have been the original option, but does it really matter? Just wait until you hear it go.

It’s a 16.5-liter straight-six with “just” 250 hp and 3,000 lb/ft (4,063 Nm) - yes, that’s not a typo. With wheels the size of those you’ll find on an ice cream cart, it’s easy to see why setting off in this car is something that requires a lot of skill and finesse. Unless, of course, you like to do as Mike and pull a little burnout each time.

The car is said to be able to reach 127 mph (204 km/h), but it would take a brave man to actually test those figures. And a brave woman as well, since the car requires two people to operate.

It's because of passionate people such as Mr. Vardy that the rest of us get to enjoy rare and wonderful vehicles such as this one. Don’t know about you, but I would give up the opportunity of driving any modern hypercar on any circuit just for a few minutes in this thing on a sunny country road. It would probably be the most painful and demanding car-related experience in my life, but it would be totally worth it.

Here’s the clip put together by the people at Goodwood Road & Racing where you get to hear what those witnessing a dogfight back in 1917 would hear. Well, not quite, but close enough.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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