Hispano Suiza K6
Total Production: 202 1933 - 1937
Hispano-Suiza was founded in 1909 by Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt and Spanish investors. During World War I, the company designed and produced aircraft engines. After the war, the company returned to automobile manufacturing and in 1919 they introduced the six-cylinder Hispano-Suiza H6. Its overhead camshaft engine was based on features of the V8 aluminum engines used in aircraft during WWI. Demand for the company's cars and its patents were high.
While many luxury automobile manufacturers met their demise due to economic hardships caused by the Great Depression, Hispano Suiza survived the lean years by acquiring French rival Ballot in 1930. Ballot lacked a suitable engine with sufficient power to propel the large and stately coachwork, a problem solved by the use of Hispano Suiza's six-cylinder engine. The Ballot name on the vehicle was soon replaced by the Hispano Suiza and known as the HS26, or Junior. Approximately 120 examples were built by Ballot craftsman prior to the factory's closure in 1935.
At the Paris Auto Salon in the fall of 1934, Hispano Suiza introduced the replaced to the HS26, the six-cylinder K6. It used the same chassis design as the larger 9.5 liter twelve-cylinder Hispano-Suiza J12, with a conventional ladder frame setup with live axles and semi-elliptic leaf springs, and servo-assisted hydraulic drum brakes. The ingenious braking system used a driveshaft-mounted servo-mechanism to compound the mechanical pressure applied to the brake pedal. Both the J12 and K6 were offered in wheelbase sizes of 134.6 and 146.5-inches. The engine had a 100mm bore and a 110mm stroke, a compression ratio of 6.0:1, a twink-choke carburetor, and overhead valves actuated by push-rods. Many of the engine components were constructed using lightweight alloys and high-strength steel, adding to its durable and low weight. It developed 120 horsepower and was backed by a three-speed manual transmission.
Like most luxury manufacturers of the era, Hispano-Suiza offered the K6 as a rolling chassis, with the decision of coachwork and coachbuilder let to the buyer.
Production of the K6 ended in 1937 with the final example being delivered in the spring of 1938, with total production reaching approximately 204 examples. It is believed that fewer than 70 examples were built on the shorter wheelbase chassis.
The Hispano Suiza K6 offered the same high quality and superior standard of excellence as the J12, with wonderful road mannerisms and prestige, but without the size and complexity of the J12.
By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2011