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T49 d'Ieteren Cabriolet
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  Hispano Suiza T49 d'Ieteren Cabriolet

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Country of origin:Spain
Produced from:1924 - 1930
Designed by:d'Ieteren
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:November 02, 2004
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAt the first motor show after the end of the First World War, the 1919 Paris Auto Salon, Marc Birkigt launched a new luxury model, the H6. For many years the six cylinder Hispano Suiza's refinement and built quality remained unmatched.

In the War, Hispano Suiza had supplied over 50,000 V12 fighter plane engines. For his new top of the line model, Birkigt first intended to use a version of the well proven V12. After some tests he concluded that one bank of a V12 would be more than sufficient to propel the new car. The 'six' displaced just over 6.5 litres and featured a single overhead camshaft. Each 35 lb crankshaft was machined from a 600 lb billet, resulting in a very rigid crankshaft. This was typical for Birkigt's 'no cost spared' perfectionism.

For the block and head aluminium was used, to keep the weight of the engine down. In the block a six separate steel sleeves formed the cylinders. Ignition was through two coils, with two plugs per cylinder, one on each side of the engine. The overhead camshaft was shaft driven and operated the valves, which were set vertical in the block. This was unconventional setup, which could result in tremendous damage, if a valve dropped in the cylinder. Birkigt was confident in using it, as the valves had never failed on the V12 airplane engines.

Finished in black enamel and polished aluminium, the engine was mounted in a conventional ladder frame. It was suspended by a live axle and semi-elliptic leaf springs all-round. The four drum brakes were power assisted by a patented 'servobrake' system. The ingenious system used the car's momentum to slow it down. The brake assistance system took the power from the gearbox, which drove a shaft at 1/64 the speed of the engine. If all else failed, the rear brakes could be activated using a hand lever.

Built in Paris and later in the Czech Republic as well, the H6 offered luxury, speed and refinement. Many of Hispano Suiza's European competitors like Rolls Royce, Bentley and Isotta Fraschini offered one or two of these ingredients, but not until the late 1920s did another manufacturer come up to par with the H6. This complete package did not come cheaply and for a while the H6 was the most expensive European car available. In 1922 the slightly more powerful H6B replaced the H6 and in 1924 the 8-litre H6C was added to the line-up.

In 1922 Hispano Suiza introduced the T49 model, which was a smaller more affordable version of the H6. After its production location, the T49 was commonly known as the 'Barcelona'. Power came from a downsize version of the H6's SOHC six cylinder engine, displacing just under 3.8 litre.

Featured is a T49 fitted with a Cabriolet coach executed by carrossier d'Ieteren. After very successful years as a coach builder, the Belgian company in time realised that after the Second World War the coach building years would be over and focussed on other automotive related services like importing and car rental. d'Ieteren still exists today.

The pictured d'Ieteren Cabriolet is seen here at the 2004 European Concours d'Elegance, where it was entered into an all Hispano Suiza class by d'Ieteren themselves. It was awarded with the second in class award, behind a H6B.

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  Article Image gallery (6) Specifications