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Forney Museum of Transportation

1923 Hispano Suiza
Victoria Town Car

6 Cylinder, 6 Wheel
Model H6A

Barcelona, Spain

This automobile was recorded as being built in Barcelona and the body is believed to have been designed and built by Henry Binder of France. It was built on order by a king who was deposed before he could take delivery. (Most likely it was George II who was king of Greece from 1922-1923.) The car was bought by the Hollywood director D.W. Griffith for $35,000. It appeared in the 1933 film "My Lips Betray" and a few war movies. We are currently researching this automobile's movie career. If you have any information, please contact us.

Do you know this film?

LA HISPANO SUIZA FABRICA DE AUTOMOVILES, S.A. was founded in 1904 in Barcelona by Damián Mateu and other Spanish capitalists. The engineering of it was given to the young Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt who had been working in Spain since 1900. Literally translated, Hispano-Suiza means Spanish-Swiss, designating the engineer and the investors.

From 1904 to 1914 Birkigt designed several different engines for La Hispano Suiza , starting with the 20/24 h.p., a water cooled, side valves, 4-cylinder designed in 1904 and going to piston supercharged racing engines. He designed the first 4 cylinder 16 valve engine and the car considered to have been the very first real sports car in history, the Hispano Suiza 45 Cr. The 15T or Alfonso XIII model was derived from the series of long-stroke, four-cylinder racing cars which the company made in 1910. It was called the "Alfonso XIII" after the King of Spain, who bought the first model Hispano made in 1905 and was a great enthusiast of the brand (owning some 30 of them during his reign).

In 1911, La Hispano Suiza opened a factory in Paris, France to meet the demand of the French market, particularly the racy Alfonso XIII. The factory in France became larger than the original one built in Barcelona.

At the outbreak of WWI, Hispano Suiza turned to making aircraft engines and introduced the revolutionary Hispano Suiza V8. It was an excellent engine and in great demand by the allies.

The famous WWI French ace Georges Guynemer, flew a SPAD VIII which was powered by the Hispano-Suiza engine. He also drove a Hispano-Suiza car. The elegant flying stork was his squadron emblem, and appeared on the radiator caps or hoods of all Hispano-Suizas after his death in 1917.

In the 1920's the Hispano Suiza became more known as a French automobile, as the models built near Paris were more glamorous and expensive than their Spanish cousins. The Hispano Suiza H6 became the star of the 1919 Paris Motor Show. Birkigt's experience designing aircraft engines transferred to this powerful automobile. Hispano Suiza also was the first car to have four wheel brakes using a mechanical servo assistance and surpassed the Rolls Royce in performance.

Wealthy sportsman Andre Dubonnet won a sports car race at Boulogne in an H6 in 1921, and repeated it two or three years later in the larger 8-litre Hispano, which was then appropriately named the "Boulogne." The Hispano Suiza was very popular as a sports car as well as a glamorous luxury automobile. In their time they were the most expensive cars in the world and were fitted with the most elegant bodywork of the period. They became the favorite of Royalty in Europe and India as well as wealthy celebrities. Hispano Suiza set a standard of quality, innovation and performance that no others could match.

Hispano Suiza ceased production in France 1938. Production continued in Spain until it was stopped by the Second World War, ending an era and the glamorous Hispano Suiza.

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