This model, also known as J12, was introduced at the Paris Motorshow from 1931 and caused a great impact between the audience and specialized press. In spite of the Great Depression which brought the crack of ’29 in the USA (and was transferred to the rest of the world later), the big car companies were still thinking about high purchasing power customers that could afford these kind of high priced cars.
The new creation of the engineer Birkigt was totally different to its predecessor, the acclaimed H6 which had placed the Hispano-Suiza among the high class motoring elite. The H6 was introduced in 1919 and the directives of the company thought it was the moment to develop a new model, more appropiate to satisfy the new demands of the customers and to compete with other brands like Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce, Isotta Fraschini or the Americans Packard or Cadillac.
Hispano-Suiza chose a V12 motor for the new model, but unlike it was expected, they didn’t use the aviation motor they already had and that had been successfully tested. A new V12 was developed, with overhead valves and just one camshaft placed in the center of the V. The 12 cylinders provided 9,424 litters and it was able to speed up the two tons car to 170 km/h.
The J12 were all built in the french factory of Bois Colombes, and each customer could choose between three kinds of chassis: a short one with 3.421 mm of distance between axles, a standard one with 3.810 mm and the long one, with 4.010 mm. Once the chassis was chosen, the customer took it to the coach builder, who “dressed” the J12 according to each customer’s taste. The most important coach builders of that time, like Vanvooren, Kellner, Chapron, Fernandez and Darrin or Sauotchik made bodies for the J12. The price of the chassis, without the body, doubled those made by Packard or Rolls-Royce Phantom II.
No matter what body was chosen by his lucky owner, the J12 always proved to be a agile, easy to handle and even sporting machine, far from the image of “deluxe truck” it could give.
It is believed that around 120 cars came out of the french factory between 1931 and 1939. All of them were bought by important people from the financial and industrial World, as well as royal families, aristocracy or artists. The Rothschild family, the King of Rumania or Pablo Picasso were, among others, owners of a Hispano Suiza T-68.
I would like to thank Rafael Pueche for his collaboration and expert advise for the development of this model. Without his help, the documentation work would have been longer and more laborious.
Type: Forward longitudinal, twelve cilindres in two banks of six forming a 60 deg. Vee. A couple of blind blocks and crankshaft over 7 supports.
Diameter and path: 100x100mm
Cubil capacy: 9.424 cc
Compression ratio: 6,5/1
Valves: Overhead operated by push-rods and rockers. Only one camshaft placed in the center of the V
Fuel supply: Two twin-choke carburettors.
Power: 220CV at 3.000 rpm
Ignition: Double. 24 spark plugs, with 2 dual Cintilla Vertex magnetos
Electric supply: Dinamo and two 12 V batteries.
Wheel drive: Rear
Gearshift: Three gears, second and third syncronized.
Front suspension: Rigid axle. Springs. Shock absorbers with adjustable hydraulic controls.
Rear suspension: Rigid axle. Springs. Shock absorbers with adjustable hydraulic controls.
Brakes: drum over the four wheels. Cable mechanical servo assited brake H.S.
Steering: Fork and worm gear.
Wheels: metallic spokes and Rudge Witworth struts.
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