1934 Hispano-Suiza K6 Roadster Saoutchik

Hispano Suiza survived the depression years remarkably well. Where many other luxury manufacturers struggled, the Spanish company profited from the situation by purchasing French rival Ballot in 1930. One of the problems facing the French manufacturer was the lack of a suitable engine to power their latest, rather heavy machines. This was solved by adopting one of Hispano's six cylinder engines. The first six cylinder engined chassis still bore the Ballot name, but that was quickly abandoned and the cars were known as the Hispano Suiza HS26, or Junior. Production lasted over four years and it estimated that the Ballot workers assembled 120 examples before the factory closed in 1935.

Even before the last HS26 rolled off the production line, Hispano Suiza founder Marc Birkirgt introduced a replacement. Dubbed the K6, it was closely related to the 12 cylinder engined J12. Together they carried on were the legendary H6 had left off. Both machines reflected Birkigt's ability to read the market, which clearly demanded luxury and comfort over raw performance. This was most evident in the engine compartment. Both the new six cylinder and twelve cylinder power plants seemed a step back with their simple push-rod operated valves. With no chains or gears needed to drive the overhead camshaft, the new engines produced considerably less noise. The loss of power was compensated by increasing displacement.

Although it replaced the HS26, the K6 was brand new and once again featured a Hispano Suiza designed and built chassis. Identical in design to that of the J12, the K6 chassis used a conventional ladder frame, suspended by live axles with semi-elliptic leaf springs at the front and rear. Just like its bigger brother the new six cylinder engined machine was available with a 342 cm and 372 cm wheelbase. Hydraulic drums and a very precise steering box ensured the ride was up to Hispano's standards. As mentioned earlier, the six cylinder engine featured overhead valves actuated by push-rods. Thanks to its displacement of just under 5.2 litre, it produced a commendable 120 bhp. Like all Hispanos built in France, the K6 was fitted with a three-speed gearbox.

The new Hispano Suiza K6 was introduced at the Paris Auto Salon in the fall of 1934. As usual, it was offered as a rolling chassis only, so the customers could have it fitted with a coachwork of choice. With their identical chassis dimensions, it is not surprising that many coach builders offered very similar bodies for both the K6 and the J12. As a result the K6 was often clothed with absolutely exquisite open and closed bodies. That more than made up for the slightly lower performance figures compared to the final H6 models. The last K6 was delivered new in the spring of 1938, although production had stopped in 1937. Due to the ever growing hostilities, particularly in Spain, Hispano Suiza was forced to abandon motor cars and to focus solely on airplane engines.

Perhaps not as well known or loved as its predecessors, the Hispano Suiza K6 deserves a more prominent place in the company's history. It is believed that between 1934 and 1938 a total of 204 cars were built in the manufacturer's Paris factory. Close to forty examples are known to have survived.

Descriptions & pictures by ultimatecarpage & flickr & automotivephotographyericaudras & other

Production Start 1934
Country of origin Spain