“Mephistopheles,” the Land Speed record-breaking Fiat, was one of the most fearsome of the aero-engined specials popular in the 1920s. Starting off as a 4-cylinder, 120-hp Grand Prix car with an engine of 18-liters, it was converted by Ernest Eldridge, who purchased it from John Duff after the engine blew up at Brooklands in 1922. Eldridge went on to install a 21.7-liter Fiat airship engine with an overhead camshaft and 4 valves for each of the 6 cylinders. The engine was capable of 320 bhp at a maximum of just 1,800 rpm and tires were often a casualty of the tremendous levels of torque. Installation of this giant engine required the chassis to be lengthened and it gained 16 inches bringing it to 14.5 feet. Famously, the story goes that sections from a London Omnibus were used in the process.
Eldridge, in “Mephistopheles” set the Land Speed Record at 146.01 mph at Arpajon, France, in 1924, after a to-and-fro battle with the V-12 Delage, driven by Rene Thomas.
Original painting available at £1,650 (including international postage).