The history of Hispano Suiza, the first car brand in Spain
This Spanish brand has a history of more than 100 years in the automotive world.
When it comes to Spanish car manufacturers, the first thing that comes to mind is SEAT. However, a Spanish brand with a long tradition in the automotive industry, it is even longer than the Sociedad Esapñola de Automoviles Turismo; it is Hispano-Suiza.
This car was manufactured in Barcelona, Spain, on July 14, 1904, by Damián Mateu and Marc Birkigt. Being natives of Spain and Switzerland, respectively, it takes the name Hispano-Suiza.
While Damián Mateu was in charge of the company’s economy, Marc Birkigt was in the technical direction because he had experience in automobiles. Before 1904 ended, Hispano-Suiza had created its first two cars with 10 and 16 hp each.
Thanks to its design and power, Hispano-Suiza attracted the attention of locals and strangers because its models were high-speed and elegant for the time. This led to different factories abroad acquiring various company patents.
Step into the World of Hispano Suiza – Discover True Masterpieces
For 1905, the firm delivered a much faster car; it was a model equipped with a four-cylinder engine with 20 hp and could register a 90 km / h. In its quest to develop powerful vehicles, in 1907, Hispano-Suiza had the honor of being the first manufacturer in the world to create a six-cylinder engine. Composed of two blocks of three cylinders, the machine could deliver 75 hp, an enormous power for that time.
With this fame, by 1908, Hispano Suiza managed to produce 200 cars corresponding to models with four-cylinder, one-piece, or two-block engines, with powers ranging from 20 to 45 hp.
While on the one hand, the company was very successful in sales, the company’s workers went on strike, which led to the establishment of a factory in France in 1911, near Paris. Two years later, Hispano-Suiza writes another milestone in its trajectory by moving the French factory to Bois-Colombes while studying an aviation engine begins.
In 1916, a car with 32 hp was created, which aroused a great expectation, since, for many years, it enjoyed the maximum prestige, for its qualities of all kinds, and of which one was delivered, in April 1918, to the King of Spain.
A year later, the company “La Hispano Suiza Fábrica de Automóvil y materia de guerra, S.A.” was established, with headquarters and factory in Guadalajara, Spain. There, some cars and trucks were manufactured for military purposes, destined for the service of the Spanish Army.
As time went by, Hispano-Suiza launched a new model, the HP type 60 with six cylinders and 17 hp, to compete in the European market with cars from the United States. In addition to automobile success, the company grows its sales of trucks, vans, and aircraft engines for the government, military, and security forces. In addition, the manufacture of Diesel engines is addressed.
Unfortunately for the company, the Spanish nationalization meant that in 1944 the aviation engine industry was entrusted to the National Institute of Industry in practical exclusivity of any activity on this matter. Consequently, the movement of Hispano Suiza falls, which causes the factory located in Spain to be paralyzed. It motivates the start of the second significant step towards nationalization by the Spanish state.
On June 26, 1946, the National Institute of Industry created the company ENASA based in Madrid, motivating Hispano-Suiza to be on the brink of disappearance. Even with everything against it, the company undertakes the project of a more commercial car to relaunch the brand.
In 1950, a plant began operating in Barcelona to manufacture lathes, milling machines, and other tools. At the same time, the National Institute of Industry creates SEAT, the Spanish Society of Tourism Cars.
This new car brand meant that Hispano Suiza could no longer compete. In 2000, the Suqué Mateu family reached a brand transfer agreement with the Mazel company, also based in Barcelona, to manufacture a supercar prototype. HS21, which debuted at the Geneva Auto Show that same year. In 2001 and 2002, the K8 and HS21-GTS models were presented, prototypes that were an evolution of the first.
Without mass production of this series of prototypes, it took almost 20 years for Hispano-Suiza to return to the scene with an electric supercar. Thus, in 2019, the Spanish brand produced masterfully the Carmen, a vehicle that stands out for its design, power, and price.