London

6 September 2017

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Lot 155

1935 Hispano-Suiza K6 Cabriolet by Brandone

£1,600,000 - £1,800,000

To be auctioned on Wednesday, September 6, 2017


  • Formerly owned by Peter Mullin and Sam & Emily Mann
  • Best of Show Nominee, Best in Class and two-time Alec Ulmann Trophy winner, Pebble Beach
  • Concours d’Elegance
  • Winner of the Grand Prix d’Honneur, 1936 L’Elegance Automobile on the Cote d’Azur
  • An exceptionally stunning six-cylinder Hispano-Suiza


When it at last came time to replace Hispano-Suiza’s hallowed H6 model in 1935, the company created a new engine with a shorter 110-millimetre stroke and improved breathing, allowing for more horsepower from fewer cubic inches of displacement. It was mounted to an impressive chassis and equipped with an ingenious four-wheel braking system, which utilizes a driveshaft-mounted servomechanism to multiply the mechanical pressure applied to the brake pedal. Semi-elliptical leaf springs supported both the front and rear axles, and in the engine, liberal use was made of lightweight alloys and high-strength steels, providing a stiff structure that was also lightweight enough to permit very high performance.

Contemporary reports record a K6 as being capable of cruising comfortably at 80 mph, a figure that most European automobiles of the era would have been pleased to claim as a top speed. More importantly, it achieved that speed with effortless smoothness, making the K6 a perfect grand tourer. While it had a hard act to follow, replacing the car of kings, queens and movie stars, it succeeded masterfully in continuing a family tradition of carrying the world’s wealthiest, most stylish people across Europe at high speeds, within surroundings that were as luxurious, beautiful and exclusive as their homes.

The K6 was an automobile that would have looked at home on the coastal routes of Cannes, and so it was that this particular chassis came there in 1935, to be dressed by a local boutique coachbuilder, Carrosserie Brandone. Remembered by his daughter as having ‘a passion for stone, wood and leather’, Etienne Brandone began his career in sculpture, later progressing to the saddle trade and finally to coachwork. Brandone’s output of coachwork was small compared to the major panel beaters of Paris, but it was no less creative. His shop gained some measure of fame for its successes in local concours, particularly for the luxurious convertibles that the local climate encouraged.

This car was originally delivered to a Mr or Mrs Copley on 4 May 1935; later owners included a May from Lyons and, finally, in 1955, Madame Pierre, of 36 rue Montalant a Villeurbaume, Rhone. It then made its way to the United States, where the rear deck, top and windshield were redesigned, opening what had been a small package area behind the front seats into a full rear seat for two passengers. In this form, the Hispano was acquired by the Blackhawk Collection and then by noted French automobile collector Peter Mullin. Following a restoration, it became one of the best-known surviving examples of the K6, thanks to features in Car Collector magazine and in Dennis Adler’s book, Speed and Luxury. It was displayed at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1986, 1991 and 1999, receiving two 2nd in Class awards and, in its final showing, the Alec Ulmann Award, representing the most exciting Hispano-Suiza present.

The car, however, was not without its share of mystery, having over the years lost its identity, with its coachwork variously attributed to Letourneur et Marchand, Saoutchik, Figoni and Kellner! Following renowned American collectors Sam and Emily Mann’s acquisition of the K6 from the Mullin Collection, noted historian Andre Vaucourt was commissioned to fully research its history. Vaucourt was able to uncover original Brandone drawings of the rakish design that appear to be for this car, as well as a period photograph of the completed car in front of the Hispano-Suiza office in Bois Colombes.

An article in the May 1936 issue of La Carrosserie announced the car’s receipt of the top honour, the Grand Prix d’Honneur, for the most beautiful French automobile at the L’Elegance Automobile on the Cote d’Azure, accompanied by a Madame Lartique. The car was described as having Brandone coachwork and being a ‘stunning creation, with the receding beltline emphasizing the rush of chrome and the protruding edges of ribbed wings standing out in blue over cream.’

Feeling no less enthusiastic about his purchase, and now armed with period documentation and photography showing the Hispano in its original form and properly identified, Mr Mann elected to send the K6 to the renowned firm of Stone Barn Restorations, in Vienna, New Jersey, which has the restoration of numerous concours winners to its credit. Using the reference materials that Vaucourt had uncovered, the car was once more restored, this time taking it back to its original form, exactly as it was designed in 1935.

Following the restoration, the Hispano-Suiza triumphantly returned to Pebble Beach once more, completing the Pebble Beach Motoring Tour and capturing not only the Alec Ulmann Trophy for a second time, but also winning its class and being nominated for Best of Show. No less outstanding mechanically than stylistically, in 2013 it participated in the Hispano-Suiza Rally in Arizona. In 2015 it received a full engine rebuild by RM Auto Restoration, including new rings, pistons and gaskets, and a full inspection of the heads and bearings, which were found to be in excellent condition.

The result is a car that is simply outstanding in every way, with exhaustive work undertaken to make it the best that it can possibly be. It is accompanied by copies of the documentation uncovered by Vaucourt, including the Cote d’Azure magazine feature, photographs of the car from the period immediately following its completion, as well as from the post-war era, and a brief history of Carrosserie Brandone.

Decades have passed since Etienne Brandone’s hammers were quieted and the last K6 left Bois-Colombes. The excellence they created together endures, carrying with it a proud and now well-known heritage of concours successes spanning 80 years.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more