Hispano-Suiza H6C Tulip Wood Torpedo 1924

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Alexander Vertinsky sang in the thirties in Paris cafes. In the second and third decades of the last century Hispano-Suiza was glowing on the streets of European capitals. Intriguing by the extreme expensiveness, the stork wafting over the radiator cover and the unusual name it evoked charm and jealousy. 
     Almost every body is made by the best craftsmen and in accordance with the wishes (and very often with the whims) of the lucky individual customers; moreover, the most advanced engine of that time, as well as the breaks with a servo of a completely original construction, works quietly under the engine cover. Behind the steering wheel of this car one could see the Spanish King Alfonso XIII, the Dutch Prince Henrich, Siamese (present Thailand) Princess, Baron Rothschild, Dictator Francisco Franco, the first Czech President Masaryk, as well as Albar, Maisoro and Nonparo Maharajas. Every summer Pablo Picasso used to ride from Paris to Barcelona in his Hispano-Suiza limousine. Even the infamous Soviet NKVD Menzhinsky owned the official H6. The Kremlin legends tell that having let the drivers go home in the evenings, the folk leaders used to have fun in car racing. Only the King George II of Greece did not succeed – during the production of his car, the king was toppled, Greece was proclaimed a republic, and the triaxial Hispano-Suiza went to the garage of D.W. Griffith – the director of one of the Hollywood film studios. 
     Among a variety of forms and styles, one can be distinguish Hispano-Suiza H6C Tulip Wood Torpedo. After the First World War, when there a fierce fighting for the speed record in the sky, on the water and on the ground could be observed, the aerodynamics has been increasingly dictating the fashionable forms of aircraft, high-speed ships and racing cars. The same time, engineers sought to minimize the structural weight.
     While preparing for the Targa Florio race in 1924, French aviator and racer Andre Dubbonet ordered Hispano-Suiza H6C chassis with a lower than standard radiator and a 175-liter fuel tank. The engine with the raw power of 8-liter, six cylinders and 200 hp weighed less than the engines of other manufacturers because its block was made of the aluminium alloy. The car body was produced by the French aviation factory Nieuport Astra Aviation. Teak wood frame was covered with aviation oilcloth (plywood), and the mahogany stripes of different length and width were secured on the top as a finish. According to the other version prevailing in a number of sources, tulip-tree (rosewood) was employed for the finish. However, this wonderfully coloured and hard wood is difficult to work and fracture very easily; as a result, it could not be suitable for the body of the intensely vibrating race car. Which wood was originally used for the finish of this excellent car body, may become obvious after the response from the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, where in 1924, Hispano-Suiza H6C Tulip Wood Torpedo was exhibited. 
     After seven grueling hours, Andre Dubbonet finished the Targa Florio race sixth, although he drove in the second position before the end of the first round when the tire of his car got punctured. In order to test the strength of the car Diubone went home to France immediately after the race and using the contemporary poor roads of Italy drove from Naples to Rome in five hours. There exists the legend that Andre was noticed dining in the restaurant of Milan an hour before the arrival of the express with the next participants for the Targa Florio race. Later, with this car he participated in the Coppa Florio race in Brescia, where he won the fifth place in the general classification and the first in his class. 
     TYPOART depicted Hispano-Suiza H6C Tulip Wood Torpedo the way it looked during the time of its racing career. The original aluminum wings and lights used to be removed during the race in order to reduce air resistance. For the same reason, from the front to the rear the bottom of the car was covered with a continuous sheet of aluminium. In 1925, Andre Dubbonet sold this Hispano-Suiza to the British. Hispano-Suiza UK H6C Tulip Wood Torpedo stayed in the Britain until the 70s when it was acquired by the above-mentioned Blackhawk Museum. Before the display of the car at the exhibition, the museum workers wanted to emphasize the aesthetics of its wooden body. French painter and illustrator Pierre Dumont has created a sketch, according to which with the help of the manufacturing technology of “Skiff” boats, new wooden wings have been made in the shipyard. 

© Original text by Artūras Kupstas. © 2018 TYPOART.




Jūratė Rutkauskaitė
Jūratė Rutkauskaitė

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