By Maz Woolley
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.
Hispano Suiza was founded in 1904 to use patents developed by the Swiss Engineer Marc Birkigt. The name means ‘Spanish-Swiss‘. In 1905 unit construction of engine and gearbox was pioneered by Birkigt and this became a feature of all Hispano Suiza vehicles.
The original cars were built at Barcelona and in 1907 a Swiss concern was permitted to manufacture under licence. Later branch factories opened in France and Skoda of Czechoslovakia also made some Hispano Suizas under licence.
The cars were successful on the racing circuit with victories at Boulogne and Mont Ventoux in 1910. and this seems to have set seal to the manufacturer’s fame. In 1911 a move had to be made to larger premises on the Sagrera estate and a branch factory was opened at Levalbois-Perret in France. Then, in the spring of 1914, a “manufactory” was built at Bois-Colombes, in the suburbs of Paris, and the Hispano-Suiza took on its French nationality. In the UK prior to 1914, a service depot was maintained at Fulham, and a showroom in Shaftesbury Avenue.
The young King Alfonso XIII of Spain was an early motoring enthusiast and patron of Hispano-Suiza. He was such a fan, in fact, that he is said to have owned 30 of them. The sporting Hispano-Suiza Type 45CR of 1911 was quickly named the Alphonso in his honour.
During the First World War Hispano Suiza concentrated upon aero engines designed by Marc Birkigt which ended up powering over half the French and British aircraft in the conflict. Between the wars HIspano Suiza made money from licensing many of its patents and made large luxurious vehicles in small numbers and armaments like canons for aircraft in large numbers. Just before the Second World War the Spanish arm of the company was effectively taken over by the Nationalists and the French arm of the company was taken over by the French Government.
After the Second World War Hispano did not return to making cars but remained makers of aircraft engines and systems as well as arms until absorbed by SNECMA in 1970.
The model featured in this article is another anonymous 1:43 scale alloy and plastic models being sold by Chinese vendors on eBay. The model is marked C.I.L. on the baseplate but no trace of that being used as a brand name can be found. MAR Online has already looked at two other models in the same series: A Rolls-Royce and an Austin Seven (article one and article two).
The front of the model is impressive with a nice brass effect radiator surround and black core as well as starting handle to the base. The Hispano Suiza wing motif is neatly modelled on the head of the radiator. The brass effect front lights have a silver painted core giving a good impression of period lights.
The model is of the Hispano Suiza Alphonso as stated on the baseplate though it is being sold as a Skoda Hispano Suiza Alphonso. It has nice coachwork lines printed and the horn and levers all fitted to the driver’s side.
The Alphonso appeared with considerable variations in the bodywork fitted but the model captures the shape of several shown in photographs on the web and in a car located in America which is pretty much identical apart from black wheels rather than yellow and a missing battery box on the driver’s side running boards.
As can be seen inside the jumble of instruments and brass connecting pipes fitted on the dashboard of the real car is not modelled which is a shame as they would have added to the realism of the interior which has a nice brass and wood effect steering wheel and a seat painted to resemble leather and no other details.
Yellow is always a tricky colour. Here the yellow paint on the metal is a close match to the yellow plastic used for the wheels, wings and base including springs. However the amount of plastic used becomes obvious when you look at the model close up but is less obvious when viewed from a few feet away.
There is quite a bit of conjecture that these models were developed for a part work that has never gone ahead. Like the others already reviewed, this is basic but with good outlines.
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