Hispano-Suiza J12 (1931)

The achievement of Hispano-Suiza went to the peak in 1931 by introducing the largest, most powerful and most expensive car in its history – J12. This was Hispano's version of Bugatti Royale. It was priced 50-75% more expensive than Rolls-Royce Phantom III, the most expensive British car then. It was powered by Marc Birkigt's latest V12 engine (Birkigt had designed V12 aviation engine and used his experience in the J12). Like the old straight-6, it had lightweight aluminum block and heads to better rivals. Although for simplicity reason it sacrificed the SOHC valvegears for pushrods-operated overhead valves (OHV), the perfectly-balanced V12 was still clearly more advanced than Bugatti's straight-8. A 100mm bore and 100mm stroke resulted in 9.4 liters of capacity and 220 horsepower. (It was later improved to 11.3 liters and 250 horses) Autocar magazine tested the car then and reported excellent power and torque, quiet ride, great roadholding, outstanding braking, light and precise steering. It also topped 100 mph and did 0-60 in 12 seconds. This was the world's best grand tourer of the day regardless of price.


Hispano-Suiza J12
Year of production
No. produced
114 units
Layout, Gearbox
Front-engined, Rwd, 3M
V12, ohv, 2v/cyl
9425 cc / 11310 cc
220 hp / 250 hp
Top speed
9.4-liter engine: 100 mph*
0-60 mph
9.4-liter engine: 12 sec*
* Tested by Autocar

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