Hispano-Suiza had Swiss and Spanish origins and a parallel manufacturing base in France. Marc Birkigt, a Swiss engineer, had designed the Barcelona-built Castro, which later became the basis for the first Hispano-Suiza of 1904. Through the years, he fostered a reputation for building everything from T-head fours, overhead-cam engines, a water-cooled V-8, and the H6.
Near the close of the 1920s, the multi-cylinder wars were escalating, as engines were growing larger and more powerful. Birkigt was determined to build one of his own, and in 1929 he began work on what would eventually become the J12, Type 68. The engine was a new design with 12 cylinders and pushrod overhead valves, twin alloy cylinder blocks mounted on a common crankcase, and a seven-main-bearing crankshaft with side-by-side connecting rods. It had a very large displacement size, nearly reaching 9.5 liters, and convex pistons resulted in horsepower of 220, and rubber engine mounts were adopted for the first time. A larger 11-liter V12 became available in 1935.
In the summer of 1931, a prototype chassis was tested, and the Type 68 was shown at the Paris Salon that autumn. On September 18, 1931, The Autocar road-tested the new J-12 at the Brooklands circuit where it did a complete lap at 95 mph, with a top speed of 108.67.
The Hispano-Suiza J12s was offered only as a rolling chassis available in a choice of four wheelbases. These over-engineered vehicles offered near-silent operation and were among the most expensive automobiles at the time.
The J12 sold well into 1938 until the company returned to aircraft production. During its production lifespan, a total of 120 examples were built.
by Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2019
Related Reading : Hispano Suiza J12 History
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