1924: Fiat driven by Ernest Eldridge

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6 cyl. Aero
21,700 cc
300 bhp
Top Speed:

146.01 mph


Ernest Eldridge was a Brooklands driver of some note in the 1920's but appeared only once on the world record scene. His first racing appearance was in 1921 with a rare chain-driven Isotta-Fraschini which was lapping at more than 90 mph.

The following year Eldridge startled the Brooklands crowd by appearing with a 240 horse-power Mayback aero engine in his 1907 I.F. chassis, which had been stretched to accommodate the giant power plant.

This 20 liter racer had a tiny two-seater body made by Jarvis of Wimbledon and caused something of a sensation, even when monstrosities were not uncommon in motor racing circles.

It won its first race at more than 101 mph. Eldridge then turned to a 10 liter Fiat, which he drove with some success. Meanwhile he was busy fitting the 21 liter A12 Fiat aero engine into old Mephistopheles' chassis.

He retained chain drive and had a two-seater body fitted with the cockpit right on the end of the enormously long chassis. The whole thing eventually weighed the best part of two tons in racing trim.

Eldridge's car was among the last to use chain drive, but the reason for this was that the car started life as a sprint model back in 1907, and was approaching 20 years old when it took the world record.

Mephistopheles was originally a (very) open two-seater with a four-cylinder engine, cast in two pairs, which could achieve around 120 mph. After languishing in a shed during the first world war, it appeared again at Brooklands in 1922 in the hands of John Duff of Bentley fame.

But time took its toll in a big way during a race, when the entire engine disintegrated about the heads of driver and passenger. Back into a shed it went, until Eldridge bought it and welded eighteen inches of bus chassis into the frame to enable it to withstand the size and weight of a 21.7 liter Fiat aero engine which produced 300 horse-power at 1,800 rpm. on a 5 to 1 compression ratio.

The unit, from an Italian warplane, had a single overhead camshaft operating four valves for each cylinder. The car also had the extraordinary number of four plugs per cylinder, but only two carburetors.

Also See:

Land Speed Record Drivers
Herbert Austin LSR Attempt
History Of The Land Speed Record
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