Hispano-Suiza, a distinguished name in Edwardian motoring, established itself as a leader in automotive engineering alongside Rolls-Royce. The Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt was responsible for earning the company’s prestigious reputation through his successful development of Hispano-Suiza race cars.
The Alfonso XIII is considered the quintessential sports car, with its lightweight, narrow body and centrally positioned engine. The Spanish king had been so impressed when he drove this new Hispano that he bought one and gave permission for the new model to carry his name.
The car’s four-cylinder engine was upgraded from 2.6 to 3.6 liters in 1911, with a four-bearing crankshaft added, and a four-speed gearbox was introduced in 1913. Despite the engine’s low maximum power output of 64bhp at 2,300rpm, the Alfonso XIII was capable of reaching a top speed of around 120km/h (75mph), making it one of the fastest road vehicles of its time.