On September 17, the Carillon Park hosts an event that will allow visitors to witness history first-hand during the 11th Annual Dayton Concours d’Elegance. Spotlighting the event is a 1928 Hispano-Suiza owned by Beavercreek native, current Xenia resident and neurospace engineer at WPAFB, Glenn Gersch. This relic is the only operable model in the United States. To see this amazing, refurbished piece of history at Carillon Park located at 1000 Carillon Blvd. in Dayton beginning at 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $85, with a preview party offered.
“To restore it, we had to search all around the world for pieces. We had to measure some pieces to have them fabricated. Sometimes, we would have to wait a year for a needed part,” Gersch said. “I love historical technology, so I really enjoyed this project.”
This extremely rare car, was bought by Gersch and co-owner Dan Geuder in Aurora, IN. Together, they worked tirelessly to research the vehicle’s history, model information, and searched for replacement parts to build the core back to its original glory.
“One of the things that was really unique with this car at the time, was that it had power brakes. But, they are not the kind of power breaks that we have today. They had drum brakes and they have a drum brake that goes on the side of the transmission so if the car is moving the whole drum is rotating and gives additional power to the brakes. It’s something that Rolls Royce paid Hispano-Suiza up through the 1960’s for using it on their cars,” Gersch said.
The Concours event features 200 classic and antique vehicles and motorcycles, but this is the first Hispano-Suiza that has ever appeared at this event. Visitors are also expected to see Orville Wright vehicles, classic Camaro models, MG sports cars, and much more. These are the finest models from all around the world, such as Japan, Sweden, Spain, England and more. Each car with a story from the past, just as rich as the next.
In the early 1900’s, Swedish engineer, Marc Birkigt designed a vehicle but couldn’t find funding in Sweden. Soon after he was hired by Emilo de la Cuadra in Spain, owner of LaCuadra who began producing vehicles in 1898. Shortly after hiring Birkigt, Hispano-Suiza automobiles were born. Part Swedish and part Spanish, these duo made a perfect team when it came to automobile production and designs. Their talents eventually shifted to airplane engines during early World War II for the French and British fighter pilots. Hispano-Suiza were classified as luxury cars and only owned by the most elite members of society. In 1920, Birkigt was nominated for an award for Car Engineer of the Century.
Through research into the original owners of this model, it is thought to be one of the many cars owned by previous Argentine President, Hipolito Yrigoyen. He was President 1916-1922 and 1928-1930. President Yrigoyen owned many Hispano-Suiza models and sent them back to Spain for overhauls. After that, research proved that the car was found in an Argentina barn in 1955 and sold to a Texaco Oil Vice President. It was shipped from Argentina to the United States through a New Jersey port. It didn’t change hands again until 1968. In 1968, Richard Asken, retired engineer from the Indianapolis 500 racetrack. He started working on the restoration of the vehicle but was not able to complete it. Gersch heard about the vehicle in an advertisement in 1998. He was excited to see it and met with Asken. When he and Geuder purchased the Hispano-Suiza, many parts were missing and in order to transport it to his hometown they had to fashion wheels, in order to get it into the trailer. From 1998 until just this summer, they worked on getting it restored.
“The hood ornament is a stork,” Gersch said. “During World War II, the company started making engines for fighter planes for the allies. One of the Frenchmen that were one of their top aces, painted storks on the side of the planes. He also owned Hispano-Suizas. So, when he was shot down and killed, the company decided to dedicate part of the car to him by making the hood ornament a stork. That’s what got me interested in the car to begin with.”
During this years’ Concours event, it will celebrate the cars of Orville Wright. According to the Carillon historians, Orville Wright was “known as a sharp dresser, a fanatic for keeping his shoes shined, Orville was also known as an early automobile enthusiast with a heavy right foot. Oakwood police officers were instructed to allow the famed pilot to ignore the speed limit as he drove to and from his Hawthorn Hill home.”
The 1928 Hispano-Suiza is stored in Indiana in a climate-controlled garage. Now, that the refurbishment is complete, Gersch and Geuder can now sit back and take great pride in their accomplishment and allow others to join in their celebration.
“I feel really lucky that we were able to get it to this position,” Gersch said. “There are many people whom have never heard of the Hispano-Suiza, so it’s nice to be able to introduce them to it personally. It’s invaluable.”
For more information or to obtain tickets, contact Carillon Park at (937) 293-2841 or visit www.daytonconcours.com. This event is free to Dayton Historical members.
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