I purchased my first Hisso engine, fifty years ago, beginning a passionate affair that has continued for half a century. That engine a Capitol Marine Converted Model H3 Wright Hispano, became the powerplant for my first vintage Gold Cup racer, METEOR V. From that day forward I have had my eye trained to flush out these wonderful engines from World War I.
The origins of this pile of Hispano-Suiza engines came from a Norfork Navy yard where there was an aircraft overhaul station in the late 1920’s & early 1930’s. Nearly 50 years ago I met Archie Mercer, an outrageous old man living near Virginia Beach, Virginia. Archie had been an active boat racer in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area in the 1930’s. He raced an old boat named WAWA, eventually repowering it with a big Model H Hispano-Suiza. Sometime in the early 1930’s, Archie purchased the entire Contents of the Norfolk Navy overhaul station’s Model H3 engines when they were no longer used by the Navy and became obsolete.
Sometime around 1977, I purchased Archie’s collection of raceboats and engines. This pile included his precious WAWA, a number of hydroplanes from the 1940’s & ’50’s and a mother-load of Wright Hispano engines including a Gold Cup champion small Hisso known as the Bendix-Wright 625 cubic inch supercharged Hisso which powered the Gold Cup racers HOTSY TOTSY II and HOTSY TOTSY III.
Now 80+ years later I still have a substantial inventory of parts left from Archie’s piles of Hisso parts, many coated with Cosmoline or wrapped in protective paper. Since I am now aged 70, I felt it was time to “scatter” all these parts together in one place so they can be inventoried and assembled back into complete engines. Driving this decision was my recent purchase of two additional H-3 Hissos from an estate in Michigan, now increasing my inventory to over half a dozen of these amazing engines. Stay tuned as these engines get restored and run again as they approach a hundred years since they were manufactured.