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H6B Coupe Chauffeur by Binder
In 1898 a Spanish artillery captain, Emilio de la Cuadra, started electric automobile production in Barcelona under the name of La Cuadra. In Paris, De la Cuadra met the Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt (1878–1953) and hired him to work for the company in Spain. La Cuadra built their first gasoline-powered engines from a Birkigt design. At some point in 1902, the ownership changed hands to J. Castro and became Fábrica Hispano-Suiza de Automóviles (Spanish-Swiss Automobile Factory) but this company went bankrupt in December 1903.
Yet another restructuring took place in 1904, creating La Hispano-Suiza Fábrica de Automóviles, under Castro's direction, also based in Barcelona. Four new engines were introduced in the next year and a half; a 3.8-litre and 7.4-litre four-cylinder and a pair of big six-cylinder engines were produced. This company managed to avoid bankruptcy and its largest operations remained in Barcelona until 1946, where cars, trucks, buses, aero engines and weapons were produced. Other factories in Spain were at Ripoll and Guadalajara.
France was soon proving to be a larger market for Hispano's luxury cars than Spain. In 1911, an assembly factory called Hispano France began operating in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret. Production was moved to larger factories at Bois-Colombes, under the name Hispano-Suiza in 1914.
After World War I, Hispano-Suiza returned to automobile manufacturing and in 1919 they introduced the Hispano-Suiza H6. The H6 featured an inline 6-cylinder overhead camshaft engine based on the features of its V8 aluminum World War I aircraft engines and a body design by the American coach designers Hibbard & Darrin.
Licenses for Hispano-Suiza patents were much in demand from prestige car manufacturers world-wide. Rolls-Royce used a number of Hispano-Suiza patents. For instance, for many years Rolls Royce installed Hispano-Suiza designed power brakes in its vehicles.
Through the 1920s and into the 1930s, Hispano-Suiza built a series of luxury cars with overhead camshaft engines of increasing performance. On the other hand, in the 1930s, Hispano-Suiza's V-12 car engines reverted to pushrod valve actuation to reduce engine noise.
During this time, Hispano-Suiza released the 372 Hispano-Suiza car built at the Hispano works in Paris.
The mascot statuette atop the radiator after World War I was the stork, the symbol of the French province of Alsace, taken from the squadron emblem painted on the side of a Hispano-Suiza powered fighter aircraft that had been flown by the World War I French ace Georges Guynemer.
The models H6B (1919–29), H6C (1924–29), Hispano Suiza Junior or HS26 (1931–32), J12 (1931–38) and K6 (1934–37) were made by the French division, the rest were all manufactured in Spain.
The Hispano-Suiza H6 was a luxury automobile from the 1920s. Introduced at the 1919 Paris Motor Show, the H6 was produced until 1933. Roughly 2,350 H6, H6B, and H6C cars were produced in total.
The H6 engine featured a straight-six engine inspired by designer Marc Birkigt's work on aircraft engines. It was an all-aluminium engine displacing 6,597 cubic centimeters (403 cu in). Apart from the new overhead camshaft, it was essentially half of Birkigt's aviation V12 design. The seven-bearing crankshaft was milled from a 600 lb (272 kg) steel billet to become a sturdy 35 lb (16 kg) unit, while the block used screwed-in steel liners, and the water passages were enameled to prevent corrosion.
One of the most notable features of the H6 was its brakes. They were light-alloy drums on all four wheels with power-assist the first in the industry, driven with a special shaft from the transmission. When the car was decelerating, its own momentum drove the brake servo to provide additional power. This technology was later licensed to other manufacturers, including arch-rival Rolls-Royce.
Its 32HP six-cylinder engine featured a camshaft in each head and the car was equipped with brakes on all four wheels controlled by a highly efficient booster and developed by Birkigt himself. Light for its size and very fast for its time, the 32 HP Hispano in 1923 took the name of H6 B, which was the version most sold, with a total production of about 1,750 units made. Meanwhile, the 46HP H6 C made its appearance: this version received an 8-liter engine developing 160bhp and immense torque. The H6 C featured some of the most opulent bodies and production was limited to just over 250 cars.
The 1922 H6B was slightly more powerful. An 8.0 litres (488 cu in) (110 by 140 mm (4.3 by 5.5 in)) engine was used in 1924's H6C.
The H6 series was replaced in 1933 by the J12, which initially used a 9.5 L (580 cu in) V12 pushrod engine.
A series of five racing H6Bs with short wheelbases and slightly enlarged engines was built in 1922. These were referred to as "Boulogne", to celebrate the H6's triple victory at the sports car race at Boulogne by pilots Dubonnet, Garnier & Boyriven in 1923 (Journal des debats, July 27, 1923). Woolf Barnato piloted a Boulogne to eight international records, including a 92 mph (148 km/h) average over 300 mi (480 km), at Brooklands in 1924.
André Dubonnet entered an H6C Boulogne in the 1924 Targa Florio. Powered by a 7,982 cc (487.1 cu in) straight 6 (estimated to produce 195hp (145 kW)), Dubonnet demanded a maximum body weight of 100 lb (45 kg), and the aircraft maker Nieuport- Astra complied with tulipwood strips (later determined to have been mahogany), fastened to an aluminium frame with thousands of tiny rivets. Dubonnet finished the grueling event without a body failure, and drove home to Naples afterward. This vehicle is currently housed at the Blackhawk Museum near Danville, California.
A later series of short-wheelbase H6Cs was built, eventually being referred to as "Monzas".
A six-wheeled H6 was purchased by motion picture director D. W. Griffith.
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