Driving a Fire-Breathing Car from 1903 is Hard Work

We’re fairly spoiled these days. Most cars are quiet, comfortable, simple to drive, and reliable even in the hands of the maintenance-averse. But that certainly hasn’t been a universal truth since the inception of the automobile. Some cars can be a real handful (a beautiful, breathtaking handful), and we’d imagine this 1903 Monarch fits squarely in that category.  Established in 1913 in Detroit, the Monarch Motor Car Company was the brainchild of Robert Hupp (of Hupmobile fame) and his brother-in-law Joseph Bloom. Over its short existence, it produced a fairly small run of practical four-cylinder cars and had planned an even smaller run of V8 cars before it went bankrupt just three years later. One such car was a bit more special than most, however. The car was bestowed with a mammoth Curtiss OX-5 V8 aircraft engine and unleashed on unsuspecting roads. This isn’t it, rather it’s another Monarch outfitted in its likeness, and as driver Duncan Pittaway demonstrates, it’s a bit of a bruiser. Take a look. RELATED: This Twin-Turbo Ford GT is Gunning for 300 MPH
RELATED: Take a Look Back at the History of Cars with Aircraft Engines And with a momentous push start, the aged Monarch is on its way. As Pittaway demonstrates, the foot brake does little in the way of slowing the car (you’ve got the handbrake for that), the gearshift runs sequentially from rear to front, and there’s no fuel pump. To push fuel into the engine you must manually work a hand-operated air pump. Amazingly, the airplane-engined beast can still hit 100 mph, though as Pittaway puts it, "you can have more fun at 30 miles an hour around a roundabout in this car than you could ever have in the latest Ferrari supercar.” He does know his Italian performance cars too. Pittaway also owns the talked-about-in-whispers “Beast of Turin,” a 1911 Fiat land-speed record car with a 28.5-liter four-cylinder. Essentially, the fastest Italian car money could buy, circa 1911. Care to see these early century automotive icons in the flesh? A whole mess of them will race it out at the 74th Goodwood Member's Meeting in the UK in March. Average vehicle age? About 102 years young. RELATED: Take a Closer Look at the Original 28.5-liter "Beast of Turin"