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1933 Hispano Suiza J12 brings V-12 power to Jay Leno's Garage

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This 1933 Hispano Suiza J12 shows why it was a prewar great. Now part of California's Nethercutt Collection, it was recently featured on "Jay Leno's Garage," where Jay Leno and Cameron Richards examined the car's history.

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Hispano Suiza means "Spanish Swiss," signifying the founders' ethnicities. Hispano Suiza began creating cars in the early 20th century, but became famous for its WWI fighter jet engines. 

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Jay owns a 1915 Hispano Suiza with one of these engines. Hispano Suiza returned to producing cars after the war, developing a V-12.

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The J12's 250-hp 9.4-liter V-12 was advanced for the time. Two spark plugs per cylinder, dual water pumps, and dual magnetos give ample electrical supply without a distributor. 3-speed manual transmission drives rear wheels.

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Duesenberg had introduced hydraulic brakes at this time, but the J12 used vacuum-operated mechanical brakes. Jay believes the brakes feel modern despite their older technology. 

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Customers would have felt more confident with them than with hydraulic brakes.

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This car was constructed in France, where Hispano Suiza had opened a satellite factory. It was sold locally to wealthy Shell Oil heiress and first French female pilot Suzanne Deutsch de la Meurthe.

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This is one of nine Henry Binder-bodied J12s and the only one with a "small" 146-inch wheelbase, Richards said.

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Hispano Suiza phased out its vehicle division to focus on aviation and was ultimately sold to Snecma (now part of the Safran Group). The Carmen electric supercar revived the brand in 2019.

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Hispano Suiza followed up with the track-focused Boulogne model the next year, boasting 1,100 hp and 0-62 mph in less than 2.6 seconds. Hispano Suiza will build 14 Carmens and 5 Boulognes for $1.6 million each.

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Hispano Suiza followed up with the track-focused Boulogne model the next year, boasting 1,100 hp and 0-62 mph in less than 2.6 seconds. Hispano Suiza will build 14 Carmens and 5 Boulognes for $1.6 million each.

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