top of page

Yacco: world record oil in artistic oil cans

In the good old days, the automobile was a sign of luxury and prestige. Everything around him should reflect this image, from the bottle of champagne to the can of oil.

The perfect illustration of this world of rhinestones and glitter and the Yacco lubricant brand, a high-tech oil intended for performance and luxury vehicles. This oil with the flashy slogan: ''the oil of world records'' could be stored in ordinary barrels, but the codes of the time meant that this oil, like some of its competitors, was packaged in cans with artistic illustrations which make its cans real objects of art that collectors are snapping up.

We tell you the exciting story of the Yacco brand

In 1904, the Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt (1878-1953) founded the company Hispano-Suiza Fabrica de Automobiles S.A. in Barcelona, joining forces with two Spanish businessmen, Damian Marteu and Francisco Seix. The ambitious company aims to produce luxury automobiles. The firm decided to establish itself in France in 1911 – the country then had one of the strongest automobile industries in the world.

The Great War put a temporary end to Marc Birkigt's dreams of expansion, while the Hispano factory in Bois-Colombes was placed under the control of Gnome et Rhône.

Despite these difficulties, the brilliant Swiss technician managed to impose new types of aircraft engines on the French army, of which approximately twenty-five thousand units were produced until 1918. The majority was subcontracted by Renault or Lorraine-Dietrich.

Once peace returned, the company was faced with a sudden drop in orders. The factory is once again expanding into the automotive sector, but also hopes to diversify into commercial aviation.

The Yacco climax

In April 1926, the firm changed its name. The OMO name disappears definitively, giving way to the new “Yacco SAF” (For Société Anonyme Française). A second capital increase took place in November 1928, it now reached 4,500,000 francs. The head office is transferred to number 44, rue de la Grande-Armée in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. The same year, a new factory was inaugurated in Aubervilliers. In January 1929, Louis Birkigt, Marc's son, joined the board of directors.

Voisin definitely adopts Yacco oils, as well as Donnet. Yacco-Donnet and Yacco-Voisin oils are distributed through the brand's agents. The icing on the cake was that Guiseppe Campari's Alfa Roméo 6C 1750, lubricated by Yacco, won the Mille Miglia in 1929.

If the automotive sector is doing well, aeronautics is not left out. The collaboration with Hispano-Suiza is going well: the stork brand distributes 20 liter cans packaged by Yacco under its own name. Jean Dintilhac multiplies contacts with Caudron-Renault, Farman, Blériot and Nieuport-Delage. Despite conclusive results, Jean Dintilhac is struggling to land major contracts with the air force. In October 1930, Emile Mayen and Alfred Gerson resigned. They were replaced by Marc Birkigt and Pierre Forgeot, respectively appointed president and vice-president: the company was more than ever linked to the field of aviation, which was then experiencing unprecedented expansion.

The Neighbors of world records

A non-conformist, Gabriel Voisin is without context one of the most prominent personalities in all of Paris during the Roaring Twenties. He counts among his close friends Rudolf Valentino, Mistinguett and Le Corbusier, who often ride in Voisin. From 1925, the atypical automobiles were the first vehicles to inaugurate the speed records organized by Yacco on the Montlhéry ring, with a modest four-cylinder clad in a streamlined body.

This car ran between November 6, 1925 and February 22, 1926, breaking “seven world records”, the advertisement tells us. More ambitious is the eight-cylinder which succeeded it, entered on the ring from April 12, 1927 to January 12, 1928. It ran for twenty-four hours at an average of 182.66 km/h, setting the hour record at 206.558 km/h. Two formidable twelve-cylinders succeed it. The first once again won 19 records in its category, the second was a simple production car which covered more than 50,000 kilometers from September 7 to 25, 1930.

To read on the subject, the book by Xavier CHAUVIN entitled ''YACCO, THE OIL OF WORLD RECORDS''.

It reveals the entire history of the French company specializing in the production of lubricants (engine oil, coolant and hydraulic fluid). Richly illustrated, the book is accompanied by testimonies from the most famous men in the automobile and aeronautics industry such as André Citroën, Gabriel Voisin, Marc Birkigt, Marcel Doret and Jean Mermoz.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page