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FIAT Mephistopheles

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#1 Arpajon146

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 15:45

As part of my research into the history of the FIAT Mephistopheles I am seeking information on the following:-


John (Jim) Ames who was E A D Eldridge's friend and mechanic and they worked together approximately between 1919 and 1927 when Eldridge moved to France.


Ewart's  346 - 350 Euston Road, London W.1  This company was well known for making geysers but in the early 1920s made light-weight racing car bodies. Is anything known?


Any information at all would be greatly appreciated.




#2 D-Type

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 21:08

While we're on the subject, what colour was Mephistopheles when she set the Land Speed Record?  Was she red or black?

#3 Vitesse2

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 21:17

Rather than Ewarts of Euston Road, could it possibly have been Ewarts of Dudley? A firm of sanitary engineers would seem a strange choice for such a project.



#4 robert dick

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 09:39

The 1922 3-litre Bentleys used by Hawkes at Indy and by Clement, Hawkes and Bentley on the Isle of Man were fitted with bodies by Ewart's.

#5 Arpajon146

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Posted 26 January 2021 - 17:42

The Motor article of July 15th 1924, page no. 1035, quotes "the great red car".  This is an eye witness account as the author mentions that he examined the tyres after the record attempt. Contemporary French newspaper reports also mention the colour as red.  What is interesting is that this is the only event in which the car carried the word "FIAT" on its flanks.  Could this indicate sponsorship by one of the FIAT agents?  The car did not compete with this livery again until it raced in VSCC events in the early 1960s.


It has been suggested that Ewart's also supplied light-weight door-less two seater racing bodies to Gordon Watney's South Lodge Motorworks at Weybridge before the first world war. Can anyone confirm this?

#6 D-Type

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Posted 27 January 2021 - 18:01

Thanks for that.  With the satanic connotations of the name "Mephistopholes" i wondered if it might have been black.

#7 Doug Nye

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Posted 27 March 2021 - 19:10

I drove the car some years ago on the Fiat test track at Balocco.  It was a memorable day, not least when 'Mephisto' gulped the last of the fuel from its tank and the Fiat Storico people had none with them there.  Eventually a service car screamed up and squealed to a stop and a meccanico leapt from its passenger seat with a 20-litre can.  BUT the crew then found they had no funnel to feed the filler neck.  One lateral thinker grabbed a plastic traffic cone, and they used that as a filler funnel.  


They then tow-started me in the old lady, and once it all erupted into deafening life a VERY reluctant crew member was detailed to duck down between the great car's front dumb-irons and the tow-truck ahead to untie the tow rope.  He kept bobbing up and down, just tall enough to shoot tremulous glances back at me over the radiator filler cap, his eyes as round as dinner plates, indicating that I should keep my foot planted on the foot-brake and keep hauling on the hand-brake lever like an exasperated Scotsman at a fruit machine.  I really understood his fear...


The point was that poor 'Mephisto' - despite being a runner - was at that time in very poor condition. Steam, scalding water, hot oil, fumes and smoke issued from almost every conceivable pore. The radiator leaked. The water jackets leaked.  Oil unions leaked.  She would run clean then gasp, cough and backfire - she would ripple into a misfiring fit, clear her throat, spit stabs of flame back from the carburettors...


It really was a case of 'Mephistopheles' indeed - here was a spitting, slobbering, gasping, rasping, quivering, detonating, fart-blasting, smoke-wreathed devil incarnate.


I have to say - I LOVED it.



#8 bradbury west

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 23:48

Doug, I recall your article in the Daily Telegraph. Highly entertaining.

When we had it at the FiS a few years back I found myself in an interesting conversation with the mechanic who had spent 5 years rebuilding it. He spoke with absolute affection about the car and his task, although he had very limited English, and I little Italian of any worth, but we understood what each was saying. Marvellous.

Roger Lund

Edited by bradbury west, 20 April 2021 - 23:52.