1928 Hispano-Suiza T49 Tourer

Hispano-Suiza stands proudly among the greatest classic-era marques in history. On par with Bugatti, Delahaye, and Isotta-Fraschini, Hispano-Suiza produced some of Europe's finest motorcars from the teens through the thirties. Based in Barcelona, Spain, the "Suiza" part of the name comes from Marc Birkigt, a Swiss-born engineer who founded the company and served as technical director from 1904 through the end of car production in the late 1930s. In its nearly 50-year history, the company expanded to include a production line in France and even an aero-engine division with an American branch. Early on, Hispano-Suiza built a wide range of vehicles, from a 10hp four-cylinder to a mighty 60/75 horsepower six-cylinder tourer for King Alphonso XIII. Hispano-Suiza was a car reserved for royalty, entertainers, and society's elite. Europe's most prestigious coachbuilders vied for the chance to put their name on Hispano-Suiza chassis, resulting in some of the most stunning and memorable motorcars of the pre-war period.

Hispano-Suiza engines are revered for their power and performance. The mighty V8 aero engine, which made upward of 300 horsepower, played a vital role in the Allied victory in World War I. Hispano shelved plans for a twelve-cylinder successor to the V8, although Birkigit dusted off the design for his first post-war automobile engine, fitted to the legendary H6 model. Birkigit utilized essentially one half of the V12 to create a mighty, 135 horsepower 6,597 c.c. inline-six sharing many internal components with the aero engine.

The success of the H6 spawned two smaller models: The four-cylinder T48 and the mid-sized six-cylinder T49. Introduced in 1924, the T49 utilized a new 3.8-liter overhead camshaft inline-six that was closely related to the mighty H6 engine but scaled down for the smaller chassis. Despite its position below the H6, the T49 was still a prestigious high-performance motorcar, producing 90 horsepower from its state of the art engine. Between 1924 and 1930, Hispano-Suiza produced the T49 exclusively in their Barcelona works. As with the big 32 CV H6, the T49 appealed to sportsmen and royalty at home in Spain, across Europe, and even in India where maharajas found favor in its performance and durability. Marque historians estimate T49 production at about 900 cars in total, and it is believed that fewer than 30 are known to exist today. Powerful, beautifully crafted, and technologically advanced, the Hispano-Suiza T49 is a jewel in the crown of Spain's motoring history.

Wearing striking seven-passenger phaeton coachwork, this Hispano-Suiza T49 is the subject of a well-researched and meticulous restoration. Per information provided by the most recent owner, this Barcelona-built T49 was delivered new to Argentina, where it spent most of its early life. Upon receiving its coachwork at the hands of a local Argentine coachbuilder, Carroceria V. Marrugat y Cia, Buenos Aires, the car was sold to the Argentine government and possibly used to transport the newly re-elected president, Hipolito Yrigoyen.

Following Yrigoyen's downfall, the Hispano was sold or otherwise disposed of by the new government, disappearing from the public eye. In 1955, an American executive with Texaco Oil Company working in Argentina discovered the Hispano-Suiza in a barn and somehow managed to get the car out of the country and shipped to New Jersey. The trail cools off again until the mid-1980s when the car resurfaced in a disassembled state in the collection of Richard Askern of Indianapolis, Indiana. He held on to the Hisso for many years in hopes of restoring it, but eventually conceded the project, and in 1998 he listed the T49 in Hemmings Motor News.

The most recent owners acquired the car from Askern, and soon embarked on a meticulous restoration. The project consumed several years, as parts and information proved scarce. A full teardown and rebuild of the engine were performed, and the chassis and body restored to a high standard. Their efforts were rewarded in 2017 with an AACA National First Prize at Bettendorf, Iowa, followed by a People's Choice Award at the 2017 Dayton Concours d'Elegance, and a Distinction Award at the 2018 Cincinnati Concours. In addition, the car has been awarded Full Classic™ status with the CCCA.

Still looking fresh from restoration, this Hispano-Suiza T49 is stunning in "Birkigt Blue" with black wings and cream-beige upholstery. The body is quite stylish and sporty, with a steeply raked windscreen and clean, sweeping lines. The quality of the finish is best described as concours-quality, with gorgeous brightwork all around. The seven-passenger cabin is also beautiful, featuring exquisitely trimmed beige leather, superb restored original instruments, and polished alloy and nickel brightwork. The top is done in tan canvas and features a full complement of side curtains. A custom-fitted plastic top cover, bound in matching tan fabric accompanies the sale.

The star of any Hispano-Suiza sits beneath the hood. In this case, it is the 3.8-liter version of Birkigt's fabulous overhead-cam inline-six. The crankcase is one impressive casting that incorporates skirts to seal off the engine bay from debris, and is a work of art in and of itself. The restoration encompassed a full engine rebuild, including a repaired and reground original crankshaft. The block, accessories, steering box, and other components are painstakingly polished to a beautiful finish resulting in a stunning presentation.

The restoration of this superb Hispano-Suiza was, no doubt a labor of love. These rare and fascinating motorcars are among the finest European classics of all time, although few survive outside of Spain. This award-winning example is sure to please the most discerning collector. The exquisite presentation, beautiful coachwork, and powerful six-cylinder engine make it equally at home on tour or the concours lawn.

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