Sold for $2,255,000 at 2013 RM Sothebys
The Hispano-Suiza K6 went into production in 1933. The engine - a new 5184cc inline six-cylinder creation with overhead valve - was designed by Rodolphe Herrmann, who worked with Marc Birkigt, the company's founder, on the design team. The new engine had a shorter 110-millimeter stroke and improved breathing, allowing for more horsepower from fewer cubic-inches of displacement. The car was capable of 125 bhp and 90 mph. The new chassis was favored by the premier French coachbuilders for its sophistication, layout, and high quality. Production lasted from 1933 to 1937, during which time 202 cars were built, and all of them were custom-built one-of-a-kind pieces. The impressive chassis's were given an ingenious four-wheel braking system, which utilizes a driveshaft mounted servo mechanism to multiply the mechanical pressure applied to the brake pedal. Semi-elliptic leaf springs supported both the front and rear axles. The engine made liberal use of lightweight alloys and high-strength steels.
This car, chassis number 16035, wears a body by Carrosserie Brandone, a small boutique coach-builder in Cannes, who was famous for highly stylized cabriolets. This car won the Grand Prix d'Honneur for the best French coachwork at the Cannes Coconurs d'Elegance in 1936.
The car was originally delivered to a Mr. or Mrs. Copley on May 4th of 1935. Later owners included a May from Lyons and, finally, in 1955, Madame Pierre, of 36 rue Montalant a Villeurbaume, Rhone. The car made its way to the United States, where the rear deck, top, and windshield were redesigned. The modifications made the small package area behind the front seats into a full rear seat for two passengers.
The car was later purchased by the Blackhawk Collection and then by Peter Mullin. It was treated to a restoration then put on display at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 1986, 1991, and 1999, receiving two Second in Class awards, and the Alec Ulmann Award.
This was a car that, for a period of its life, had an unknown identity. The coachwork was believed to have been done by Letourneur et Marchand, Saoutchik, Figoni, or Kellner. An exhaustive search revealed its true identity as being a Brandone-bodied car. A May 1936 issue of La Carrosserie announced the car's receipt of the top honor, the Grand Prix d'Honneur, for the most beautiful French automobile at the L'Elegance Automobile on the Cote d'Azure, accompanied by a Madame Lartique.
After the mystery of its identity was revealed, a restoration was commissioned to bring it back to its original form, exactly as it was designed in 1935. After the work was completed, it was shown at the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours where it earned the Alec Ulmann Trophy for a second time, won its class, and was nominated for Best of Show.
In 2013, the car participated in the Hispano-Suiza Rally in Arizona. Recently, it was given a full engine rebuild by RM Auto Restoration, including new rings, pistons, and gaskets and a full inspection of the heads and bearings.
The Spanish automotive and engineering firm, Hispano-Suiza, had a reputation for their luxury cars and their aviation engines in the pre-World War II period.
The Hispano-Suiza K6, often referred to as the 30HP, was introduced in the early 1930s. It was available on two platform sizes, a short or long frame. The K6 served as a replacement for the Ballot and provided its customers a less-expensive option to their J12 flagship model.
Powering the K6 was an overhead valve, 5.2-liter engine that was designed by Marc Birkigt and featured overhead valves. Power was in the neighborhood of 120 horsepower.
By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2011