WE SEE plenty of crazy stuff in our travels, but this little turbocharged Fiat Topolino rat rod stopped us in our tracks.
Seeing a Topolino (it means ‘little mouse’ in Italian) at the drag strip is nothing new; they were cheap, light and made excellent race cars back in the 60s and 70s. These days they’re a lot harder to find; most of the ones you’ll see now are fibreglass replicas.
But this wild creation is all steel, the brainchild of Mopar man Darryn Smith, who dropped an original 1949 Topolino shell on a Mazda 1000 chassis. The Fiat body has been chopped seven inches and channelled another seven. “I just threw it together to take it to the drags,” Darryn says. “It cost me about $6000 to build.”
Originally he put it together with a 440ci Mopar big-block (dressed up as a 426 Max Wedge engine), which he then took to Chopped. It ran mid-12s with the low-stress big-block combo, but Darryn reckons it was only pulling 4500rpm across the finish line because of the 3.55-geared open-centred differential.
More recently he’s decided to try something else, which is why it’s packing a 318ci small-block these days, with a single blowthrough Demon carby and T04 turbo. “It’s just a stock engine,” Darryn says. “It was only running 5psi boost in this video. I was taking it pretty easy at the time because I wanted to see if it would go down the track without killing me.”
Since then he’s run into the 11s with 10psi boost, and after a bit of dyno-tuning he turned the boost up to 14psi, which has seen the power climb to 300hp at the tyres. That might not sound like a lot, but Darryn reckons it should have no problem running into the 10-second zone. “I even put a ’cage in it the other day, just in case.”
But what Darryn likes the most is how many people stop and stare at his outlandish little machine. “I love it when people walk past $300,000 race cars to take pictures of my rusty piece of crap!”