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In Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, Australian detective Phryne Fisher drives a red 1923 Hispano-Suiza H6, which makes frequent appearances in the television series.
Hispano-Suiza (English: Spanish-Swiss) is a Spanish automotive–engineering company and, after World War I, a French aviation engine and components manufacturer.
It is best known for its pre-World War II luxury cars and aviation engines.
In 1898 a Spanish artillery captain, Emilio de la Cuadra, started electric automobile production in Barcelona under the name of La Cuadra. In Paris, De la Cuadra met the Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt and hired him to work for the company in Spain.
In 1902, the ownership changed hands to José María Castro Fernández and became Fábrica Hispano-Suiza de Automóviles (Spanish-Swiss Automobile Factory) but this company went bankrupt in December 1903.
Yet another restructuring took place in 1904, creating La Hispano-Suiza Fábrica de Automóviles, under Castro's direction, also based in Barcelona.
This company managed to avoid bankruptcy and its largest operations remained in Barcelona until 1946, where cars, trucks, buses, aero engines and weapons were produced.
Other factories in Spain were at Ripoll, Seville, and Guadalajara.
In 1911, an assembly factory called Hispano France began operating in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret. Production was moved to larger factories at Bois-Colombes, under the name Hispano-Suiza in 1914 and soon became Hispano-Suiza's main plant for producing the largest, most costly models.
With the start of World War I, Hispano-Suiza turned to the design and production of aircraft engines under the direction of Marc Birkigt.
Hispano-Suiza's aero engines, produced at its own factories and under license, became the most commonly used aero engines in the French and British air forces, powering over half the alliance's fighter aircraft.
After World War I, Hispano-Suiza returned to automobile manufacturing and in 1919 they introduced the Hispano-Suiza H6. The H6 featured an inline 6-cylinder overhead camshaft engine based on the features of its V8 aluminium World War I aircraft engines and had coachwork done by well known coachbuilders like Hibbard & Darrin and D'Ieteren.
In 1923 the French arm of Hispano-Suiza was incorporated as the Société Française Hispano-Suiza, the Spanish parent company retaining control with 71% of the share capital.
The French subsidiary was granted a large degree of financial and project independence to bring design and production direction into closer contact with its main markets but overall direction remained at Barcelona.
Through the 1920s and into the 1930s, Hispano-Suiza built a series of luxury cars with overhead camshaft engines of increasing performance.
After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the regional government of Catalonia, on behalf of the Second Spanish Republic, collectivized control of Hispano-Suiza's Spanish factories and placed the company on a war footing. The company was divided into three sections:
- aircraft engines and cannons
-vcars and trucks
- machine tools
Because of the international isolation of the Spanish republic, the Spanish arm of the company suffered from shortages.
In 1937, the French government took control of the French subsidiary of Hispano-Suiza with a 51 per cent share of the capital for the provision of war materiel, renaming the company La Société d’exploitation des matériels Hispano-Suiza.
In 1938, the French company ceased automobile production and concentrated on aircraft engine production.
At the time, Hispano-Suiza had just introduced a new series of water-cooled V-12 engines and the Hispano-Suiza 12Y was in great demand for practically every type of French aircraft.
However, without the Spanish factories, Hispano-Suiza lacked the capacity to deliver enough engines for the rapidly growing French air force, and many new French fighter aircraft remained grounded for the lack of an engine when World War II began.
In 1940, Hispano-Suiza, together with the Spanish bank Banco Urquijo and a group of Spanish industrial companies, founded the 'Sociedad Ibérica de Automóviles de Turismo' (S.I.A.T.).
This led to Spain's first mass-production car maker, SEAT. After the civil war, Hispano-Suiza in Spain was severely affected by the devastated economy and the trade embargoes imposed by the allies.
In 1946, Hispano-Suiza sold off its Spanish automotive assets to ENASA, a public company belonging to the Instituto Nacional de Industria, the maker of Pegaso trucks.
After the Second World War, the French arm of Hispano-Suiza continued primarily as an aerospace firm. Between 1945 and 1955, it was building the Rolls-Royce Nene under license, designing landing gear in 1950 and Martin-Baker ejection seats in 1955.
The company's attention turned increasingly to turbine manufacturing and, in 1968, it was taken over and became a division of SNECMA. In 1999, Hispano-Suiza moved its turbine operations to a new factory in Bezons, outside Paris, using the original factories for power transmissions and accessory systems for jet engines.
In 2005, SNECMA merged with SAGEM to form SAFRAN.
The H6 engine featured a straight-six engine inspired by designer Marc Birkigt's work on aircraft engines. It was an all-aluminium engine displacing 6,597 cubic centimetres (403 cu in).
Apart from the new overhead camshaft, it was essentially half of Birkigt's aviation V12 design.
The seven-bearing crankshaft was milled from a 600 lb (272 kg) steel billet to become a sturdy 35 lb (16 kg) unit,while the block used screwed-in steel liners, and the water passages were enamelled to prevent corrosion.
One of the most notable features of the H6 was its brakes. They were light-alloy drums on all four wheels with power-assist the first in the industry, driven with a special shaft from the transmission.
When the car was decelerating, its own momentum drove the brake servo to provide additional power. This technology was later licensed to other manufacturers, including arch-rival Rolls-Royce.
The 1922 H6B was slightly more powerful. An 8.0-litre (488 cu in) (110 by 140 mm (4.3 by 5.5 in)) engine was used in 1924's H6C.
The mascot statuette atop the radiator after World War I was the stork, the symbol of the French province of Alsace, taken from the squadron emblem painted on the side of a Hispano-Suiza powered fighter aircraft that had been flown by the World War I French ace Georges Guynemer.