Showing posts with label Spanish Classic Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spanish Classic Cars. Show all posts

Hispano/Suiza H6B Dubonnet Xenia

Hispano/Suiza H6B Dubonnet Xenia 1930s Spanish classic car

André Dubonnet was a doyen of the drinks industry. Many a tippler has had him to thank. His finest hour, however - at least so far as Dubonnet was concerned - was the Hispano-Suiza H6B Xenia. From a wealthy background, Dubonnet was a car-crazed kid. It was a gimme, then, that he had plenty of toy automobiles to play with. The toy he craved most, though, was a one-of-a-kind supercar ... a real one. Finally - in '45 - he got it!

For all his wealth, Dubonnet was a worker ... well, of sorts. After a lot of graft, he had made himself a respected fabricator. Hispano-Suiza was his marque of choice. Using their style-soaked creations as source material, Dubonnet fashioned several racing prototypes. They graced grand European events and circuits - Monza, the Targa Florio, Le Mans and Boulogne among them. Not only did Dubonnet build his cars - he drove them, too. And did so well enough to be asked to join the Bugatti race équipe - by boss Ettore, no less.

Over time, Dubonnet assembled an impressive portfolio of clients. Indeed, GM acquired some of his research work - into hydro-pneumatic suspension and pumpless oil delivery. Even Dubonnet, though, needed help. To that end, he recruited Jacques Saoutchik to the Xenia cause. The fabled Russian coachbuilder was tasked with sorting the aerodynamic aspects of the car. After all, Dubonnet had land speed record attempts in mind. So, Saoutchik's sought-after streamlining skills would be vital. Saoutchik also knew how to design a stunning-looking motor car. Sadly, the Xenia never broke any speed records. It did, however, play a prominent rôle in the opening of the Saint-Cloud tunnel - situated near Paris. The publicity must have been some consolation to Dubonnet for the Xenia's lack of sporting success. Not that the Xenia lacked all of the attributes of an LSR car. For starters, it was 5.7m in length - aiding straight-line stability. Partly as a result of that, it could clock up 200km/h. So, for all its shortcomings - at least in LSR attempt terms - Dubonnet's Hispano-Suiza H6B Xenia was an innovative and spectacular autocar. Motoring had never been so à la mode. Cheers, André!

Pegaso Z-102

Pegaso Z-102 1950s Spanish classic car

In the Fifties, the Spanish firm Pegaso made some of the most glamorous cars in the world. Among them was the Pegaso Z-102. Designed by Touring, the Z-102's alloy bodywork combined beauty with light weight. For whatever reason, though, the car suffered in the showrooms. Its replacement - the Z-103 - was a toned-down version of the Z-102. Its engine, for example, came with a single-overhead-camshaft. Not surprisingly, Pegaso intended that the Z-103 sell better than its predecessor. Between the pair of them, however, only around 100 units were shifted. Thankfully, Pegaso's bread and butter sales were in trucks and coaches. Their foray into sports car manufacturing was something of a sideline.

At the race-tracks, too, the Z-102 under-achieved. It started out with a 2.8-litre V8 engine. Baseline power was 175bhp. Bolting on a supercharger substantially upped that number - to 280bhp. Taking the 2.8-litre motor out to 3.2 upped it still further - to 360bhp. That should have been enough to be competitive. Especially, given that at lower speeds, the Z-102 handled well. Despite its light alloy body, however, in overall terms, the Z-102 was heavy. That could make it recalcitrant through higher-speed corners. Its top speed of 160mph did redress the balance somewhat - but not enough. At least it sounded great - courtesy of its gear-driven camshafts!

It felt almost as if the Z-102 had been built on a whim. Dominant though they were in the commercial vehicle world, Pegaso were less than savvy about the sports car business. The Z-102 stayed in production for seven years. The last cars left the factory in '58. As a money-maker, it had been pretty futile. On the bright side, Pegaso had demonstrated that it could make stunning-looking automobiles - on top of its more monolithic stock-in-trade. Ultimately, insufficient attention had been paid to the Z-102's bottom line. The Z-103 had tried to make amends - with its more prosaic approach. But, the financial damage was done - and a line had, eventually, to be drawn. The marque of Pegaso - based in Barcelona - will probably never be spoken of in the same breath as Ferrari or Lamborghini. But, for a while, the Pegaso Z-102 showed that Spanish sports cars could be every bit as exotic as their Italian counterparts!