F.I.A.T. (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino – Italian Automobile Factory, Turin) better known as Fiat was set in the Summer of 1899 by Giovanni Agnelli, an ex-cavalry officer together with other businessmen and artistocrats to produce a small car, designed by Aristide Faccioli and the Ceirano brothers.
By 1900 the first factory was opened. Soon production was increasing, new models were created and Fiat cars began to flourish, in Italy but also abroad, reaching as far as America and Australia. The reputation of the Turin-based carmaker began to benefit from its positive results in the first racing events, both in Italy and in the USA.
For the 1904 Gordon Bennett Cup F.I.A.T. entered with a Mercedes-like vehicle complete with honeycomb radiator. It featured chain drive, mechanically-operated overhead inlet valves, a capacity of 10,568 cc and a power of 75-hp. The pressed steel frame “projects some distance forward in front of the bonnet, so that the engine, and even the honeycomb radiator, are some distance behind the front axle; the bulk of the weight is, therefore, taken by the rear wheels… The wheel base is given as being 2805 m., the track 1.85 m., and the tyres 910 mm. in diameter.” said The Automotor Journal. The cars were piloted by Cagno, Lancia and Storero.
For the 1905 season the engine was enlarged to 15,310 cc (180 x 150 mm), with power hiked to 100 hp with Simms-Bosch low-tension magneto ignition. Chain-drive was retained.