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Hispano Suiza H6 (1919)

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Sitges, Garraf, Barcelona (Spain).

49 International Barcelona-Sitges Vintage Car Rally

The international Rally of vintage cars of Barcelona-Sitges, organized by Fomento de Turismo de Sitges uninterruptedly from year 1958, is sponsored at the present time by Audi and allows to see pieces of authentic museum in operation (previous to 1924) and with its passengers dressed in the clothing of the years in which the vehicle was created.

With the passage of the years the event has been rooting and at the moment it is considered as one of most traditional at European level. According to the organizing sources it would be the second more important encounter of vintage cars in Europe behind a classic one like London-Brighton.

Hispano-Suiza was an originally Spanish and then Spanish-French automotive and engineering firm (actually, from 1923 on, two different companies) best known for their cars, engines (including world famous aviation engines) and weapons designs in the pre-World War II period. Today they are part of the French SAFRAN Group, while the Spanish society in 1946 sold all their automotive assets to Enasa, the maker of Pegaso trucks and sport cars.

In 1898 a Spanish artillery captain, Emilio de la Cuadra, started with electric automobile production in Barcelona under the name of La Cuadra. In Paris, De la Cuadra met the talented Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt (lived 1878 -1953), and hired him to work for the company in Spain. La Cuadra built their first gas powered engines from Birkigt designs. At some point in 1902 the ownership changed hands to J. Castro and became Fábrica Hispano-Suiza de Automóviles (Spanish-Swiss Car Factory), but this company also went bankrupt in December 1903.

Yet another reformation took place in 1904, creating La Hispano-Suiza Fábrica de Automóviles, also under Castro’s direction. Four new engines were introduced in the next year and a half. A 3.8L and a 7.4L four cylinder engine were produced as well as a pair of big six cylinder powerplants. This version of the company managed to avoid bankruptcy, and in Spain remained in operation, as a car, truck and aviation engine producer, with is main plant located in Barcelona, until 1946. They mass-produced cars, trucks and buses, and a number of hand-built racing and luxury cars, some of which ended up being owned by King Alfonso XIII of Spain.

However by this point in the early years of the century, France was proving to be a much larger market for their luxury cars than Spain. In 1911 a new factory, known as Hispano France, was set up in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret’. In 1914 they moved to larger factories at Bois-Colombes, and took the name Hispano-Suiza.

After World War I, they returned to automobile engine design, and in 1919 introduced the H6, earning them a reputation similar to that of Rolls-Royce in England. The H6 featured an inline 6 cylinder overhead camshaft engine based on the features of the V8 aluminium WW1 aero engine. Through the 1920s and into the 1930s they built a series of luxury cars of increasing refinement. In fact the 1930s V-12 car engine reverted to pushrod valve actuation to achieve even less engine noise.

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