Robb Design Portfolio: Monarch’s Marque

Spain’s Alfonso XIII had a hankering for Hispano-Suizas. The king, who reigned from the time of his birth in 1886 to his exile in 1931, acquired his first model of the Spanish-financed, Swiss-engineered, and French-produced automobiles while he was a teenager. He eventually purchased nearly 30 of the vehicles, including the one shown here, the first Hispano-Suiza H6 made available to the public. Introduced in 1919 at the Paris Salon, the car carried open coachwork by Duvivier and could attain a top speed of 85 mph thanks to features that included an aero-derived, 6.5-liter inline-6 with an overhead camshaft and a crankshaft shaped from a 770-pound steel billet. A four-wheel braking system—an innovation later adopted by Rolls-Royce—brought the hefty vehicle to a halt. Following a restoration, Alfonso’s former H6 won the 2004 Alec Ulmann trophy at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

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