Art Deco car gets an aircraft engineAugust 13, 2020
The Dubonnet Hispano-Suiza H6B Xenia is powered by a 7.9-liter inline six-cylinder engine.
Most car enthusiasts can remember several car brands and models named after people, such as the legendary Ferrari Enzo and the emergence of the Mercedes brand. A lesser known example is the 1938 Dubonnet Hispano-Suiza H6B Xenia. The vehicle was purchased and modified by André Dubonnet, a French pilot who won six aerial victories in World War I.
André Dubonnet was also a race car driver and inventor, which explains why he modified the Hispano-Suiza chassis to create the Xenia, named after his wife, who passed away shortly after they got married. The gorgeous car is now spending its time at the Mullin Automotive Museum, but despite these sensual lines, there is a very unusual engine under the hood.
Xenia is powered by a 7.9-liter inline-six engine. What makes it special is that it is essentially half of the Hispano-Suiza V12 aircraft engine. This is not surprising, since with the outbreak of World War I, the Spanish brand focused on aircraft engines. The engine had a unique design that made it quite advanced for its time. It was paired with a 4-speed manual gearbox and, despite producing only 160 horsepower, allowed the car to accelerate to a top speed of 177 km / h thanks to its streamlined body.
Since then, Hispano-Suiza has gone further with the Carmen, a state-of-the-art electric supercar with over 1,000 horsepower – double that of the Porsche 911 Carrera S. The styling is inspired by the Xenia design, while the interior has been completely redesigned.
In the Xenia, the interior was clearly aviation inspired, with its metallic finish, clean rounded dials and rounded glass, while keeping only the essentials at hand. It has a back seat, but space is clearly limited. While Carmen heralds a new beginning for the brand, this 1938 classic has already proven to be ahead of its time.
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