Body style:coupé chauffeur
In the early 1930s, the Americans brought out powerful and quiet luxury automobiles that shook up the dominance of Hispano Suiza and Rolls Royce, the brands that had led the way at the top end of the market from 1919 to 1930. But Hispano was very quick to respond, and got several years ahead of Rolls Royce. A new super-car was launched by the Bois-Colombes firm, the J12. Marc Birkigt, Technical Director, pulled out all the stops, with a 9.4-litre V-12 engine that produced 200 horsepower in almost perfect silence. Instead of the aircraft-type valve timing system with an overhead camshaft from the previous Hispano Suiza models, engine noise was reduced to almost zero by means of a pushrod valve actuation system.
This vehicle, Code 1706, left the factory on 10 December 1934 and was delivered with its body by coachbuilder Kellner on 6 March 1935. It is an excellent example of ‘classical’ styling, before the subsequent developments in aerodynamics. One or two modern touches were added, particularly to the wing design, a fitting addition to the faultless aesthetics of this coupé, which was first owned by a Mr Mollard.
Customers had a choice of two chassis types. This “normal” chassis, a coupé chauffeur is in itself an imposing size. The “long” version must have been difficult to handle in urban traffic, even at the time.
Passenger comfort and safety were priorities, and the driver had various devices to improve matters in these respects: shock absorbers with dashboard controls and power brakes.
The contemporary press unequivocally sang the praises of this beautiful creation, for its quiet engine, performance, road-holding and braking quality. It was immediately considered as one of the best cars in the world – and there is nothing to suggest that this is not still the case.
120 J12 units were produced, until Hispano ended its motorcar business. The Cité de l’Automobile has three of them, including this coupé chauffeur.