8 September 2014

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Lot 137

1935 Hispano-Suiza K6 Sedanca de Ville by Franay

  • Chassis no. 15018
  • Engine no. 333046

Sold for £112,000

125 bhp, 5,184 cc overhead-valve six-cylinder engine, three-speed manual gearbox, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel servo-assisted mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 3,710 mm

  • Marc Birkigt’s pièce de résistance
  • Handsome Franay coachwork

As the name implies, Hispano-Suiza was a cosmopolitan marque, with Swiss and Spanish roots and a parallel manufacturing base in France. Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt had designed the Barcelona-built Castro, which became the basis for the first Hispano-Suiza of 1904. Birkigt then embarked on a range of well-built T-head fours, of which Spain’s King Alfonso XIII became enamoured. By 1913, overhead-cam engines were introduced, but with the outbreak of World War I, Hispano-Suiza turned to aero engines, under the direction of Birkigt, with hands-on engineering by Louis Massuger, who was also of Swiss descent.

After the war, Spanish automobile developments were overshadowed by those of a new factory in France, which had opened in 1911. Most significant of these was the H6 of 1919, which remained in production for a decade. It was described by British historian T.R. Nicholson as “the last word in advanced transport for the rich”, and it was powered by an overhead-cam six of 6.6 litres.

The Hispano-Suiza K6 was a successor to the short-lived 1931–1932 “Junior” HS26, and it went into production in 1933. Its six-cylinder engine was derived from that of the flagship 12-cylinder J12 from 1931 to 1938. It had a pushrod overhead valve and was designed by Rodolphe Herrmann, who had recently been recruited by Birkigt. The chassis was similar to the J12 but lighter. Total K6 production is believed to be 204 cars. As with earlier cars, bodies were supplied by the customer’s choice of coachbuilder, which in the case of this car was Franay.

Carrosserie Franay was established by Jean-Baptiste Franay and his wife in Levallois-Perret, Seine, Paris, in 1903. Franay, a saddle maker by training, had worked for Henri Binder and was schooled by him. His early efforts were well made yet heavy, but he eventually found greater creativity. The late historian Jan Norbye wrote that Franay “reach[ed] full bloom only about 1927–1937”. By the later part of that period, he built mostly on Packard, Duesenberg, or Hispano-Suiza chassis. This car is an excellent example of the latter.

It was delivered new to a Mr Arthur Vail on 20 April 1935, and Hispano historians report that engine 333046 is original to the car. By 1972, it had been acquired by Paul P. Hoffman, of Raleigh, North Carolina, who kept it for almost a decade. In the 1990s, it was owned by Agnes Hamilton Hill, of Malvern, Pennsylvania.

Although it features an older restoration, it has seen responsible stewardship and still presents well. Its roof, upper bonnet, and wings are black, and it features cream body sides and light ochre belt moulding. Its dual side-mount spares are topped with mirrors, and the car has wire wheels all around. The instrument panel is set in a varnished wood surround, whilst the engine compartment is clean and well detailed but not overdone. It should be noted that as this car has been on museum display, it will require further sorting prior to any extensive use.

Hispano-Suizas were the favourites of British writers P.G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, and Evelyn Waugh, and the new owner of this car can justifiably identify with Bertie Wooster, Lady Eileen Brent, or Margot Beste-Chetwynde.

Alexander Weaver

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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