Hispano Suiza K6 Cabriolet by Darrin

Car producer : 

Hispano Suiza


K6 Cabriolet by Darrin





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 K6 was a successor to the short-lived 1931–1932 “Junior” HS26, and it went into production in 1933. Its six-cylinder engine was derived from that of the flagship 12-cylinder J12 from 1931 to 1938. It had a pushrod overhead valve and was designed by Rodolphe Herrmann, who had recently been recruited by Birkigt. The chassis was similar to the J12 but lighter. Total K6 production is believed to be 204 cars. As with earlier cars, bodies were supplied by the customer’s choice of coachbuilder.

5,184 CC OHV Inline 6-Cylinder Engine Dual Downdraft Carburettors Estimated 135 BHP at 3,200 RPM 3-Speed Manual Gearbox with Overdrive, 4-Wheel Servo-Assisted Drum Brakes. Solid-Axle Suspension with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs and Shock Absorbers.

 Contemporary reports record a K6 as being capable of cruising comfortably at 80 mph, a figure that most European automobiles of the era would have been pleased to claim as a top speed. More importantly, it achieved that speed with effortless smoothness, making the K6 a perfect grand tourer. While it had a hard act to follow, replacing the car of kings, queens, and movie stars, it succeeded masterfully in continuing a family tradition of carrying the world’s wealthiest, most stylish people across Europe at high speeds, within surroundings that were as luxurious, beautiful, and exclusive as their homes.

In 1931, the smaller Ballot-based HS26 Junior was introduced, only to be superseded in 1934 by the lovely K6. The K6 shared many mechanical and chassis components with its otherworldly sibling, the incredible 9.5 liter twelve-cylinder Hispano-Suiza J12 model. In this way, the K6 Normal chassis rode on the same 342 cm wheelbase as the J12 Court, and the gearbox, brakes, steering and suspension were identical. Indeed, for historians, it has been a constant source of confusion over the years to tell a K6 from a J12 without a chassis number to aid identification.

The K6 was a superior long distance touring chassis for owners who did not desire the size and complexity of a J12, but wanted the same high quality, superior standard of excellence, beautiful road manners and unquestioned prestige of driving a Hispano-Suiza. K6 production is believed to have been a mere 204 chassis, all fitted with individually coach built bodies, painstakingly constructed by the very finest carrossiers in France and abroad.

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