Hispano-Suiza J-12 – 1931

This beautiful beast was a luxurious marriage of Swiss precision design, Spanish capital and French engineering expertise – a polyglot relationship that actually produced one of the finest cars ever made, well able to challenge top marques like Rolls-Royce on build quality and style.

The J12 engine married to the Type 68 chassis succeeded the long-lived H6 model, launched in 1919 so highly regarded that it lasted for a dozen years.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a J12 Type B 8 to drool over as they belong to that unique class of prewar vehicle inhabited by the likes of Duesenberg and the Bugatti Royale – luxurious custom-built automobiles for the super-rich that were therefore manufactured in very limited numbers. In fact, only 120 Hispano-Suiza J12s were created in eight years, fitted with a striking assortment of saloon, coupe, cabriolet and roadster bodies by leading coachbuilders of the day. Customers had a choice of four wheelbase sizes to ensure that there was one suited to the preferred body configuration.

There was no shortage of power for these weighty vehicles – the engine was developed from those the company had produced for fighter aircraft a decade earlier, and an even larger engine was offered alongside the massive incumbent from 1935, increasing fuel consumption that was already thirsty in the extreme.

Such was the prestige of Paris-based Hispano-Suiza under founder Mark Birkigt that the company never had to employ sales staff, for the company’s reputation for producing the finest automobiles ensured that the orders kept on coming from European connoisseurs of luxury motor cars, keeping Hispano-Suiza’s dedicated band of craftsmen busy even in the depths of recession. Anyone lucky enough to take to the road in a J12 today will enjoy the ultimate experience available only to the wealthiest of 1930s motorists.




1931 (until 1938)


9,424 CC or 11,310 CC OHV V12


Up to 120 mph (180 km/h) depending on body style


It was no idle boast when Hispano- Suiza J12s were compared favorably with Rolls-Royces, as contemporary Rollers incorporated patented Hispano-Suiza technology – notably the advanced braking system.


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