They aimed to create luxury cars, and their first model worthy of note was the Alphonso, which broke cover in 1911. The car was so named because of the support shown by the King of Spain, Alphonso XIII.
But it was with the opening of a branch in Paris that Hispano-Suiza began to gain traction as a manufacturer—not to mention during the First World War when Birkigt designed several 8 and 12 cylinder aviation engines. It was through this association with the aviation world that the brand’s radiator mounted mascot appeared.
Hispano-Suiza V8 engines were fitted to the SPAD built aircraft which provided French pilots with numerous aerial victories, most notably in the hands of the ace pilot Georges Guynemer—who downed 54 rivals in combat. And despite being shot down in late 1917, Guynemer continued to be a French idol.
In 1919, Hispano-Suiza adopted the symbol of the stork; commemorating its aviation history.
The H6B model and its evolution helped to make Hispano-Suiza a top automobile brand. Although the company was based in Spain, all development and production activity were carried out in Paris, except for some of the more modest models for the Spanish market.
The Hispano-Suiza V12, introduced in 1931, was even more extravagant than its predecessors, serving as the basis for some of their boldest body designs. But the difficult situation in Spain and across Europe would soon dictate the end of this era of design.
With the tightening of finances after the end of World War II, luxury vehicles gave way to the necessity of utility vehicles in Spain. At the same time, Hispano-Suiza’s French subsidiary dedicated itself to producing components for the more lucrative aviation industry.
The rolling chassis of the H6B model in the Museu do Caramulo was acquired new, without its bodywork, by Bento de Sousa Amorim. Mr. de Sousa then took the rolling stock to the factory in Paris, on 30th May 1924 to, be fitted with body panels.
The enthusiast from Vila do Conde only equipped the car with two seats and used it very seldom save for some motorsport events.
In 1975 it was acquired by João de Lacerda for the Museu do Caramulo collection. It was then decided to finally fit the very distinctive car with bodywork that would do justice to its quality.
The body choice came from a Kellner drawing from the 1920s, which was accurately reproduced in aluminum by the British specialist Tony Robinson.
The work was completed in April of 1982, and soon after that, the Hispano-Suiza demonstrated its Grand Touring capability by making the trip from London to Caramulo in just two days.