Monterey | Lot 147
1926 Hispano-Suiza H6B Torpedo by Weymann
$180,000 USD | Sold
| Monterey, California
16 August 2013
- Offered from over 50 years of single ownership by an active Hispano-Suiza enthusiast
- Recently restored by Eric Rosenau, with well-known history
- Sporting lightweight fabric coachwork
- Le Roi de la Route
135 bhp, 6,597 cc SOHC inline six-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel servo-assisted mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 133.3 in.
The name Hispano-Suiza translates from the French to “Spanish-Swiss,” which is appropriate, as this fine French automobile was born from the genius of a Swiss engineer, Marc Birkigt, and originally produced in Spain. However, it would be the Hispano-Suizas from France that would become legendary. The H6B in particular, with its aircraft-derived six-cylinder engine that employed machined steel cylinders with integral combustion chambers in a cast aluminum block and with two valves per cylinder driven by a single overhead camshaft and a pressure-lubricated crankshaft turning on seven main bearings. The result was 135 horsepower and truly impressive torque and smoothness, as it was mounted to a chassis fitted with advanced servo-assisted four-wheel brakes and wrapped in the finest coachwork produced by carrosserie in Europe and abroad.
“The King of the Road” was the favored toy of delighted aristocrats the world over. Even Edsel Ford could be seen wafting towards Grosse Pointe Shores in one. “Bentley Boy” Woolf Barnato was similarly charmed into unfaithfulness to his own product.
The H6B offered here is believed to have been originally delivered to H. Rothbarth, a banker and director of Weymann’s Motor Bodies of Addlestone, Surrey, the British licensees of Frenchman Charles Weymann’s innovative fabric body method. The torpedo body fitted for Rothbarth employs a cotton-padded wooden framework that is covered in outer panels of a colored vinyl-like material and produces a matte-finished body that is soft to the touch and extremely light and durable. Weymann patent bodies were commonly seen on sporting chassis of the 1920s, making this coachwork an ideal choice for the H6B. This is one of only two known Hispano-Suizas with fabric bodywork.
The fine French voiture has resided in the care of its current owner, an enthusiast in Hawaii, for over 50 years, during which time the owner has been an active participant and figure in Hispano-Suiza circles. A thorough restoration was completed two years ago by the late, well-respected restorer Eric Rosenau, himself an H6B owner and skilled technician, and his son-in-law and long-time protégé, Billy Sandvic. This included properly replacing much of the wood body and wrapping it in the correct fabric. Common among H6Bs, the engine block, which combines cast aluminum, steel, and bronze in its construction, had suffered internal damage from electrolysis, necessitating a new engine block cast by French Hispano-Suiza specialist Eric Limpaler, the world’s foremost technical expert in these cars; all of this occurred during the process of bringing the H6B back to completely and robustly functional and original condition. The engine has been run since on waterless coolant, to continue to keep it in outstanding running order. Only the front fenders, which have already been refinished in Hawaii, were not restored by Mr. Rosenau’s shop. Aside from a color change from green to white, which was performed in 1961, the car appears today as it did when first delivered in 1926, and it comes complete with its original, unrestored trunk, fitted luggage, and stork mascot, as well as documentation and photography dating back to the owner’s acquisition 50 years ago.
With its combination of an outstanding aviation-bred high-performance engine; the gearbox, steering, and brakes all being outstanding and above average for their period; extremely lightweight bodywork; and a quality restoration involving the world’s finest specialists in the model, this promises to be an outstanding and swift tourer in the finest French tradition.