Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The newest addition to the Mullin Museum, the 1938 Hispano-Suiza / Saoutchick Xenia (winner of Goodwood, Amelia, Pebble Beach, Greenwich awards)

2000: Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance (Restoration debut) - Most Elegant Closed Car
2001 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance - Best in Show
2001 Meadowbrook - Engineering Excellence Award
2001 Greenwich Concours - Best in Show, Most Outstanding French Car
2005 Pasadena Art Center - Student Choice Award 2008 Rodeo Concours - Best in Show
2009 Goodwood Festival of Speed, Best in Show
2010 Driving in Style, 1930-1965 - Featured vehicle at High Museum of Art
2011 The Allure of the Automobile – To be featured at Portland Art Museum
The creation of Andre Dubonet, successful race car driver, and WWI fighter pilot.
Early in life, Dubonet developed a passion and took great delight in speed and adventure and desired to perfect the future of road transportation and in particular, the suspension system. As his favorite car was the Hispano-Suiza, he picked the 1932 H-6C chassis, which he had seen previously at the Paris Auto Salon and began sketching designs for a prototype, drawing upon his aviation background and racing experience. Further, this 1938 car was designed to reach 125mph which rivaled any car of the time and had a cutting-edge four-wheel independent suspension. In fact, the innovative suspension technology mounted each front wheel on a single arm that extended forward from the kingpin, while a pair of oil-filled, coil spring cylinders offered resistance and swiveled as each wheel turned, improving rise and handling. This original suspension system was later licensed by General Motors and used on its Chevrolet and Pontiac brands. Dubonnet designed his steel masterpiece at 19ft long and claimed that his Hispano-Suiza hyperflex suspension system would give it the “suppleness of a cat”. He took his designs to French coachbuilder, Jacques Saoutchik who helped him with the framework of the automobile, and then partnered with engineer Antoine-Marie Chedru to develop his patented independent front-suspension system. What followed was a dramatically streamlined build with an emphasis on aerodynamic styling, affectionately named Xenia, after Dubonnet’s first wife. Far ahead of its time, the Xenia resembles the fuselage of an airplane with a slender, tapered shape and pointed tail. A new parallel opening door system was used as part of the aerodynamic design and special attention was given to the undercarriage for clean air movement. The curved glass of the windshield and doors are reminiscent of airplane-styling and the panoramic windscreen and removal top were exceptionally futuristic. It featured an 8 liter overhead-valve inline 6 engine capable of 144bhp in standard form. To protect this revolutionary automobile during World War II, the Xenia was hidden away in 1939 and did not resurface until 1946 in Paris. The Xenia was then purchased by Alain Balleret, President of the French Hispano-Suiza Club who began the vehicles restoration. for more about the Mullin Museum: For 3 less artisticaly stunning photos, but one shows the incredible door hinge mechanism: When someone is as unusually brilliant and involved with cars as Andre, the story doesn't stop with just one creation... have you seen the Tulip Wood Hispano Suiza?
last 3 images from

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