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home : features : features May 28, 2016


4/30/2013 11:48:00 AM
Rare autos make pitstop in downtown Williams
Hispano-Suiza car club members stop to stretch their legs and get a bite to eat April 18
Don Nichols sits in the driverís seat of his 1925 Hispano-Suiza H6b Laundolet on Third Street in downtown Williams. Nichols drove the classic car from Lompoc, Calif. Ryan Williams/WGCN
Don Nichols sits in the driverís seat of his 1925 Hispano-Suiza H6b Laundolet on Third Street in downtown Williams. Nichols drove the classic car from Lompoc, Calif. Ryan Williams/WGCN
The Hispano-Suiza automobile features an open air driverís seat. Ryan Williams/WGCN
The Hispano-Suiza automobile features an open air driverís seat. Ryan Williams/WGCN

Ryan Williams
Managing Editor


Williams is a magnet for old cars. Car clubs travel Route 66 regularly during the summer months and often make a stop along the way in Williams. But to see a Hispano-Suiza parked downtown is a rare event.

Don Nichols drove his 1925 Hispano-Suiza H6b Laundolet all the way from Lompoc, Calif. with other members of his car club. The group stopped for lunch at the Singing Pig April 18.

Nichols' H6b has a bit of a history. Andrew Mellon had the car built to order for his daughter Ailsa. Ailsa used the car at Mellon's estates in Pittsburg, Pa. and on Long Island, N.Y.

Kellner of Paris built the body to Mellon's specifications.

"I found Ailsa's buy-off signature on a build-card behind the upholstery," Nichols said.

According to Nichols, the Mellon family used the car for most of its early life. When the family chauffeur retired, Mellon gave him the car to drive to Sarasota Fla. The car sat idle in a rented garage beginning in 1938.

"When the chauffer died, it was shoved out into an alley where it sat for an extended period of time in the Florida sun and rain," Nichols said. "A friend of mine happened upon it in 1970 and I purchased it in very derelict condition from the chauffeur's estate."

Nichols stored the vehicle until he retired and then began a total frame up restoration in 2003.

Hispano-Suiza literally means "Spanish-Swiss." The Spanish auto and engineering company is best known for its luxury cars and aviation engines.

The company is still around today. According to Hispano-Suiza's website, a Swiss engineer by the name of Marc Birkigt and Damian Mateu, a Spanish industrialist launched Hispano-Suiza in Barcelona to build internal-combustion engines.

By 1911 the company moved to France and produced its first automobile - the 15-horse power Alphonse XIII named after its first owner, the King of Spain.

Between 1914-17, Hispano-Suiza opened a plant near Paris in Bois-Colombes to produce aircraft engines, mostly for the SPAD VII flown by French ace Georges Guynemer. Someone drew a stork on his plane during the liberation of Alsace. Hispano-Suiza adopted the emblem in honor of the pilots and their planes that used the company's engines.

Nichols' H6b has a 6.6-liter, six cylinder overhead cam engine - essentially one bank of the aircraft engines the company produced during WWI. The car has an aluminum block and head with steel sleeves for cylinders. The H6b has a dual ignition system and dual batteries. It has four-wheel brakes and a power assist system that Rolls Royce used under a license from Hispano-Suiza.

Hispano-Suiza built around 2,350 H-series cars before stopping automobile production in 1936.


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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Article comment by: Williams Resident

This was a great thing for the town but a real failure by our so called CVB in not promoting it. in my experience the CVB won't promote any event they don't get a financial cut in...hell with the good of the city

Posted: Monday, May 6, 2013
Article comment by: Daniel Hintzmann

Why didn't the paper know and advertise this event!?

Posted: Friday, May 3, 2013
Article comment by: Ron Paully

To bad it wasnt talked about before hand.It would have been nice to check out the cars.



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