1937 Hispano-Suiza J12 Gurney Nutting600.000-900.000 EUR - Estimate

Hispano-Suiza J12 Gurney Nutting

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US title
EU customs cleared
Chassis n° 13510
Engine n° 321133

- Fantastic provenance
- Original engine
- High-level concours restoration
- Known and documented history
- Built for the Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar II of Indore

Reference Number 512972

as of 1/17/2018

Dealer
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Lot 28

Artcurial - Rétromobile  Contact  Location
Salon Rétromobile Hall 1  Phone  +33 1 42 99 20 56  City  Porte de Versailles
75015 Porte de Versailles  Fax  +33 1 42 99 16 39  State  Paris
France  Mobile    Country  France France
Overview
Car 1937 Hispano-Suiza J12 Gurney Nutting
VIN 13510 
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Known History

The Great Depression at the start of the 1930s could have been fatal for the unrivalled 54 CV J12, but Hispano-Suiza earned its keep building aircraft engines, and the automobile provided a public showcase for the marque. The grand Hispano, or " 54 CV " as it was commonly known, lived until 1937 without making a penny for its manufacturer, despite a price at the time of over 200,000 F (for the bare chassis !). This price limited production to around 120 examples, all built to order.

 

This Hispano-Suiza J12, chassis n°13510, was built specially for the Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar II of Indore. It is likely that he ordered the car in 1936, when he was 27 years old. This Maharaja was an aesthete with a taste for modernity. In addition to automobiles, he also collected furniture and jewellery. He loved the modern style that later became known as Art Deco, and his other passion was speed. He used his Delage, Bugatti, Bentley and Duesenberg motor cars at home in India, to head to his fabulous game reserve, and also during his regular trips to Europe and the US. He was a generous man and even offered a Bugatti to one of his personal guards, who subsequently left it to rot under a tree. The Maharaja assembled one of the largest collections of motor cars anywhere at the time, with examples of all the major prestigious marques.

According to the historian Laurent Friry, this car is one of four surviving

long chassis versions. We know from a Hispano-Suiza order book that the chassis number and engine was the latest available for the J12. The Gurney Nutting coachwork corresponds to one of two cars bodied identically for the Maharaja of Indore, the other being a Rolls-Royce Phantom III, which appears also to have survived. The rear seats were upholstered in red fabric, with splendid Art Deco wood trim. At the front, on the roof, just above the windscreen, there is a pair of red and blue lights, used to indicate whether or not the Marahaja was inside.

 

This car was bought in 2010 from the Blackhawk Collection, by the present owner, a renowned Bugatti connaisseur and collector from Prague (co-author of the book "Bugatti Type 46 - La Petite Royale"). The car was in the process of being restored, having been discovered in India in an advanced state of disrepair and in need of full restoration. It was cleared for customs and shipped to Europe. A meticulous restoration was then carried out in Prague, with the help of the technician responsible for our owner's collection, without any time limit or financial constraint. Certain missing parts were sourced and refurbished, thanks to Eric Limpalaer and other Hispano Suiza enthusiasts from around the world. The final result is truly amazing, and the term 'concours restoration' couldn't be used more accurately.

The history of this car, chassis n°13510, has been recounted in various Hispano-Suiza publications, the copies of which can be found in its comprehensive history file. Also included is a period copy of Autocar from 1937, containing a feature on this very car. In addition, there is a CD loaded with hundreds of photographs of the restoration, and some period shots.

 

This is one of the most desirable examples of the Hispano J12 in the world. It symbolises ultimate luxury, and is offered with an exceptional provenance. The engine, with high compression pistons giving 30 bhp more than the standard version, runs with an unbeatable smoothness. The high quality restoration has returned all the splendour to this flagship model. The car has never been displayed in public and is waiting to make its first appearance at one of the most prestigious concours events, in the knowledge that the Maharajah's cars will be on display at the Pebble Beach concours d'élégance in 2018.