"The Legendary Hispano Suiza"

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“The Legendary Hispano Suiza” by Johnnie Green. 235 pp. 10 in. X 7 1/2in. (Dalton Watson Ltd, 76, trardour Street. London, WAV 4AN. £7.50.)

This is a really magnificent book, in the now traditional Dalton Watson style, format and high quality. For one thing, the great and illustrious make of I lispano Suiza has never had a complete book to itself, surprising as this may seem, indeed, the make has never been very well documented, although Motor Sport carried the standard reference to it, in those excellent articles Kent Karslake wrote for me in 1950. Now Johnnie Green has done for Hispano Suiza what he did earlier for the Bentley, in another splendid Dalton Watson volume—presumably the next best thing to a Bentley in Johnnie’s estimation is an Hispano Suiza!

Mainly pictorial, and to those not intimately interested in the make, seemingly repetitive in its later chapters, which deal largely with the magnificent closed Hispano Suiza motor cars, the book has short introductions to the early days of the marque, the Catalan Cup and Coupe de l’Auto racing car, the famous Alfonso XIII (one of which I once so much enjoyed driving), the Hispano Suiza factories during the war years, the Barcelona cars, the fine 32CV model, the fabulous Boulognes and Monzas (these in inverted commas), concluding with the justly-legendary V12 and the rare Junior HS26 and the K6 models. Each of these very short pieces of text is followed by masses of good pictures of the Hispano models so desribed, suitably captioned, boring perhaps to the uninitiated but of absorbing interest to those who care about this make of car. There are engine-views, chassis-drawings, reproductions of old advertisements, and .pages from The Autocar describing the immortal 37.2-h.p. chassis and road-testing this and the V12 54-220-h.p. and six-cylinder 30-120-h.p. Hispano Suizas. Also, countless pictures of Hispanos of all ages, and with every kind of coachwork. I marvel Green found so many such photographs. You would expect him to include those of well-known cars, like the Tulip-wood Dubonnet Targa Florio car and the 8-litre that was used by Weymann at Indianapolis to vanquish a Stutz for a £5,000 wager. But otherwise, pictures of Hispano Suizas not being easy to come by, Green deserves warm congratulations for having dug out a unique collection of photographs which includes many of the pre-1914 Spanish cars. To pick but a few at random, there is King Alfonso XIII fording the River Bembezar in the type of Hispano Suiza that was called after him, and being assisted after he had presumably swamped the magneto(!), Andre Dubonnet’s 1921 32CV with rudimentary racing body, and Major Grover-Williams competing with a coupe-de-ville in a Monte Carlo Rally. Some of these I have seen before; hut to have this fine assembly of I suppose some 350 Hispano Suiza portraits presented together on beautiful, glossy, nice-smelling art paper is indeed a joy…

The book concludes with brief specifications and notes covering far more Hispano Suiza models, from 1904 to 1938, than you might have thought possible, had you not just gone through the picture pages. The II-S mascot and badge set off nicely the dust-jacket and end-papers, and the frontispiece shows a serious-looking, dour Marc Birkigt. I rate this as fascinating and delightful addition to previously neglected history.—W.B,

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