1904 - Founding of the brand
On 14 July 1904, a group of industrialists led by Mr. D. Damián Mateu and Mr. Francisco Seix founded the company LA HISPANO-SUIZA, an automobile manufacturer, in Barcelona. Technical direction fell to the prestigious engineer Marc Birkitg, who had previously designed a car for Mr. La Cuadra’s company (see story), of which only four units were manufactured in the year 1900, and which is considered the predecessor of HISPANO-SUIZA models. By the end of the year, two cars had been manufactured, one 10 HP and the other 14/16 HP. The share capital was 500,000 pesetas, of which 250,000 pesetas were issued. To prepare for activity and for advertising use, a painting was commissioned from the renowned Catalan artist Ramón Casas.
From its beginnings, HISPANO-SUIZA created among the fastest, most elegant and most prestigious automobiles of its time. Its indisputable advantages led to different factories abroad being able to acquire its invention patents, as in the specific case of SKODA, in the former Czechoslovakia.
1905 – First production
The other 250,000 pesetas of the Share Capital were issued. The first technology transfer contract was signed with Societé d'Automobiles à Genève for the manufacture of “Hispanos” throughout Switzerland. On 20 January, the first Birkitg armoured model was delivered, a 20 HP, 4-cylinder 100 x 120 officially-timed engine that reached a speed of 87 kilometres per hour on flat land and 50 kilometres per hour on the slope of La Rabassada (Barcelona).
1907 - First 6-cylinder model
HISPANO-SUIZA holds the honour of having built the first 6-cylinder car in Spain; it was designed this year and launched to the public the following year. The engine consisted of three blocks of two cylinders, twin, diameter and road mounting, 130 x 140, between 60 and 75 HP. Proof of this model’s speed was the fact that a specific HISPANO-SUIZA car of these characteristics made the Perpignan-Paris journey in twenty-two hours. This fact was picked up by the media, describing it as a great feat.
1908 - Alfonso XIII
“Hispanos” began to participate in competitions and races such as Monte Igueldo in which a 20 HP won the top prize in its series. Some 200 units of city and passenger cars had been built, in 24 different series, corresponding to models with four-cylinder engines, in single or dual blocks, with 20/30, 24/30 and 30/40 HP. It presented the 15/20 CV, 80 x 130, which was manufactured over many years, and, notably, the fantastic sports model named the Alfonso XIII, in honour of the monarch, with 45 CV, in 80 x 170 and 80 x 180, and a splendid chassis that was one of the best models of the Belle Époque.
1911 - Factory in France
As a result of the strike, a factory in France, near Paris, was approved. The decision was also influenced by the greater availability of raw materials, the abundance of auxiliary industry, qualified labour and better conditions for export, among other factors.
1913 - First engines for aviation
It was agreed to move the French factory to Bois-Colombes. The company studied lorry construction while also beginning to study aircraft engines.
1916 - Creation of the 32 HP model
In 1916, the magnificent 32 HP model was created— a chassis that sparked a phenomenon, as for many years it enjoyed the highest prestige, thanks to its all-around high quality. King of Spain himself received one in April 1918. Aviation engine tests were completed with optimum results.
1917 - New factory in Guadalajara
The company "La Hispano Suiza Fábrica de Automóviles y Material de Guerra, S.A.” was established, with its headquarters and factory in Guadalajara. The Hispano-Guadalajara factory produced cars known as the "Guadalajara" model and, above all, lorries for military purposes to be used by the Spanish Army in Africa, as well as for civil services. For several years, the Guadalajara company served as the supplier of transport material for product distribution of the oil monopoly leasing company.
1923 - Subsidiary in France
The subsidiary company "Societé Française Hispano Suiza, S.A." was established, to which all the elements of the French factory as well as use of brands and patents were contributed.
1929 - Participation in events
The Ibero-American Exhibition is held in Seville, the Hispano-Suiza Pavilion, was located on Avenida de Portugal, was the work of the architect Don Vicente Traver, and occupied an area of 1,500 square meters. In the same year, in Barcelona, on the occasion of the International Exposition, the HISPANO-SWITZERLAND Pavilion was located in the Mirador Avenue of the National Palace of Montjuic.
1931. THE HS J12 – TYPE 68 IS LAUNCHED
Sagrera manufacturing plant launches a new car, the HP Type 60 with 6 cylinders and 17 hp, to compete with American cars on the European market. This model will evolve into simpler versions – T60 RL and RLA – to cater for the European market. The HS J12 (Type 68) is presented at the Paris Motor Show (October 1931). A spectacular vehicle with elegant lines and a powerful 12-cylinder V engine, on sale for 200,000 French francs without bodywork.
1932. CREATION OF THE HISPANO SUIZA DUBONNET XENIA PROTOTYPE
Barcelona’s Sagrera manufacturing plant is extremely active thanks to orders of cars, trucks, vans and aviation engines for the Government, the army and security forces. Additionally, it starts producing diesel engines. The Hispano Xenia is presented at the Paris Motor Show in 1932 and is acclaimed by public and critics and has huge success on the road.
1934. PRESENTATION OF THE K6
In October 1934, rebel groups occupy the HS factory without causing damages and take 4 trucks that will be recovered the next day. In the autumn of 1934, the K6 is officially presented at the Paris Motor Show. The classic model with an elegant look whose body work is associated with big names of the car industry, such as Van Vooren, Kellner, Binder…
1935. DEATH OF DAMIÁN MATEU
On 7 December, Damián Mateu dies at the age of 72 after a short illness. On 10 December, Miquel Mateu i Pla becomes president of the company. At the end of the year, Hispano Suiza appoints aeronautical engineer Enrique Corbella as head of projects at the Guadalajara manufacturing plant.
1937. T60 ENGINES
On August 13, 1937, the Spanish Government nationalises the War Industries. Approximately 38 Hispano Suiza armoured vehicles are built in Sagrera during this period, many on truck chassis, but also on 3T6-type chassis with 6-cylinder T60 engines.
1938. DUBONNET XENIA, VERSION TWO
André Dubonnet launches a new improved version of the Xenia, more powerful and with a more aerodynamic bodywork. Sliding doors, enveloping windscreen, futuristic lines and a Hispano Type 68 bis 11.310 litre 12-cylinder 250 hp engine.
1940. THE SAGRERA PLANT RESUMES ACTIVITY
With orders for one hundred 4T-4G trucks from the army and thirty-three 12-Xbrs 12-cylinder aircraft engines for the air force’s CR-32 fighters, the plant in Barcelona resumes its full activity. The share capital is increased to 5 million pesetas, with the eighth issue of shares.
1942. PRODUCTION OF THE AIRCRAFT ENGINE TYPE 89
In August 1942, the German authorities occupying France ordered Hispano Suiza to send hundreds of weapon materials from the Saintes factory, mainly HS.404 cannons. But the Ministry of Industrial Production, in agreement with Hispano Suiza, sent only 54 rail cars of raw materials and tools.
1944. INI AND NATIONALISATION
Nationalisation begins: from this moment on (30 September 1944), the fate of the aircraft engine industry rests in the hands of INI (National Industry Institute) that has total exclusivity. Hispano Suiza French factories receive a total of 66.975.966 orders and make 139.343.488 deliveries. In August 1944, Hispano-Suiza has 1483 office employees and 3061 manual workers.
Company activities are severely affected, profits drop to 557,580.71 pesetas, less than a third compared to the previous year. Trolleybuses and T66G trucks are a success, 20 units are produced every month. The T-404 DE 20M/M cannon is manufactured in Ripoll, while the training aircraft HS-42 monoplane, powered by a radial engine for the air force is made in Seville. Miguel Mateu moves to Paris as Spanish ambassador.
With Hispano Suiza’s Sagrera factory effectively paralysed, the second step towards nationalisation by the Spanish Government begins. On 26 June 1946, INI creates ENASA, with headquarters in Madrid. The only way out of this situation is to sell the company. On 26 October 1946, Hispano-Suiza, Fábrica de Automóviles, S.A. sells the majority of the firm assets to Empresa Nacional de Camiones, S.A. for 83.700.00 pesetas.
1949. THE HISPANO-SUIZA A11 PROJECT
Miquel Mateu visits Prince Stanistas Poniatowski in Paris and takes a shine to the V8 prototype. Feasibility studies on a more commercial Hispano model start in Barcelona to relaunch the automobile brand.
1950. NEW VENTURES IN BARCELONA
The Bordeta factory opens in the Sants district in Barcelona in 1950, producing turning and milling machines and other machine tools. INI creates automobile manufacturer SEAT, Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo.
1952. A11 TESTING STARTS
Engineer Andrés Rufat successfully tests the A11 vehicle, but its production is not feasible due to SEAT’s fierce competition and its soon-to-be-launched 1400 model, in the same category as the Hispano Suiza A11.
1953. THE END OF THE DREAM
SEAT launches the 1400 model and puts an end to Hispano Suiza’s last automobile project.
1972. DEATH OF MIQUEL MATEU I PLA
The president of La Hispano Suiza, Fábrica de Automóviles, S.A. dies on 1 October 1972. His automobile legacy and the presidency of the company goes to his daughter Carmen Mateu de Suqué.
1985. CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP GRAN CASINO DE BARCELONA
The first and only classic car Vuelta a España is held in 1985, with the participation of Hispano Suiza vehicles from 1917 and 1930.
1993. PARIS-BARCELONA RALLY
Collectors and fans of the historical brand organise the 1st Hispano Suiza Paris-Barcelona Rally, held between 16 and 22 May 1993, with the participation of 30 French and Spanish vehicles.
1994. THE BOOK HISPANO SUIZA, LOS ORÍGENES DE UNA LEYENDA IS PUBLISHED
In 1994, Emilio Polo publishes the first volume of a great collection with Hispano Suiza and the Spanish car manufacturing industry as protagonist. For its documentary part, Hispano Suiza, Los Orígenes De Una Leyenda 1899-1915 (Hispano Suiza, The Origins of a Legend 1899-1915) has the collaboration of Hispano Suiza, Fábrica de Automóviles, S.A., with prologues by Carmen Mateu and Arturo Suqué. In April 1994, Hispano Suiza takes part in the Classic Motor Show held in Valencia, exhibiting numerous models.
1995. PROTAGONISTAS VINTAGE CAR RALLY
The programme Protagonists with Luis del Olmo organises the annual event. The best vintage cars, including Hispano Suiza most attractive collectors’ models take part in this annual even across Spain.
1998. HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY SINCE THE BIRTH OF MIQUEL MATEU I PLA
Miquel Mateu, president of Hispano Suiza, was born 1898. Commemorative initiatives include the organization of an exhibition revisiting the entrepreneurial achievements in his career.
1999. HOMAGE TO HISPANO SUIZA AT AUTO RETRO MOTOR SHOW
The 16th edition of Barcelona’s Auto Retro Motor Show is held in November 1999. The organisers of the Motor Show and the Department for Industry of the Government of Catalonia present Carmen Mateu with a commemorative plaque, a homage to the prestigious company. The same year, the book LA HISPANO SUIZA, EL VUELO DE LAS CIGÜEÑAS, 1916-1931 (Hispano Suiza, The Flight Of The Storks, 1916-1931), by Emilio Polo, is published.
2000. THE HS21 CONCEPT CAR IS PRESENTED IN GENEVA
Miguel Suqué Mateu succeeds Carmen Mateu as president of the company. Hispano - Suiza, Fábrica de Automóviles, S.A. and Mazel Car Engineering And Prototypes present the brand’s new proposal for year 2000: the next generation HS21 vehicle. The 2000 Barcelona – Sitges Rally is held and the Exhibition for the Centenary of HISPANO-SUIZA, is hosted in Finca Mas Solers, a 19th century building in Sant Pere de Ribes (Sitges), with 11 cars on show, including the 1916 TORPEDO.
2001. THE K8 CONCEPT CAR IS PRESENTED IN GENEVA
Continuing the Hispano-Suiza HS-21 project and thanks to Mazel engineers, the Hispano Suiza K-8 concept car is presented at the 2001 International Geneva Motor Show. A large saloon car combining Hispano Suiza historic formal richness with a contemporary design. The concept car is later presented also at the Barcelona International Motor Show.
2002. THE HS21-GTS PROTOTYPE IS PRESENTED IN GENEVA
At the 2002 International Geneva Motor Show, Hispano Suiza, Fábrica de Automóviles, S.A. presents the prototype of the Hispano Suiza HS21-GTS, designed and manufactured by Mazel Group. A single-seat sports car with rear wheel traction and rear longitudinal engine. The Hispano Suiza Club is founded on 19 July 2002 with the objective of perpetrating the historical memory of Hispano Suiza, Fábrica de Automóviles S.A., by disseminating its business and technological achievements and keeping the memory of the brand alive under the name Asociación Club del Automóvil Hispano-Suiza de España (Hispano Suiza Club). The new association presided by Arturo Suqué has 40 members and its board is formed by: José Bascones, Ramon Magriñá, Salvador Claret, Emilio Polo and Miquel Suqué.
2003. 2ND BARCELONA-PARIS RALLY
The 2nd HS Barcelona-Paris Rally, with the participation of 40 classic cars, is held in April 2003.
Between 4 and 8 December 2003, the Auto Retro Motor Show is held in Barcelona. At its stand, Hispano Suiza exhibits engines, cars and trophies. On 13 December, the members of the Hispano Suiza Club celebrate their annual event with a gala dinner at Casino de Barcelona.
2004. 100 YEARS OF HISPANO SUIZA
On 6 and 7 March 2004, Hispano Suiza takes part, with 12 of its cars, in the Barcelona – Sitges Rally for vehicles build before 1924, celebrating 100 years from its foundation. The Hispano Suiza Club celebrates its traditional summer meeting as part of the Castell de Peralada Festival and its Christmas dinner at Casino Barcelona. Celebrations include the Rally of the Centenary (May) and the Quixote Rally.
2005. HISPANO SUIZA BIARRITZ-SAN SEBASTIAN RALLY
Hispano Suiza Club celebrates its traditional summer meeting as part of the Castell de Peralada Festival and its Christmas dinner at Casino Barcelona. 2006. Hispano Suiza Club celebrates its traditional summer meeting as part of the Castell de Peralada Festival and its Christmas dinner at Casino Barcelona.
2007. HISPANO SUIZA SQUARE, BARCELONA
In March 2007, Hispano Suiza Square is inaugurated in the Sagrera neighbourhood of Barcelona by the city’s mayor, Jordi Hereu, and the owners of the brand, the Suqué-Mateu family. An homage to the factory created and developed by Damián Mateu. In October, the 2nd Barcelona - Peralada Rally is held with a stage in Lloret and a visit to Portlligat. Additionally, Hispano Suiza Club celebrates its traditional summer meeting as part of the Castell de Peralada Festival and its Christmas dinner at Casino Barcelona.
2008. HISPANO SUIZA AND THE SALVADOR CLARET COLLECTION
The weekend of the 6 and 7 September 2008, the Hispano Suiza Club organises an event for Hispano Suiza car owners and fans to visit the Salvador Claret Car Collection, in Sils, Girona, and enjoy a tour on the Catalan roads, in collaboration with RACC. Hispano Suiza Club celebrates its traditional summer meeting as part of the Castell de Peralada Festival and its Christmas dinner at Casino Barcelona.
2011. 1ST PUNTO RADIO - CATALONIA CLASSIC CAR RALLY
On 30 May 2011, the meeting of the Hispano Suiza Club Association – registered in the National Register of Associations of the Ministry of the Interior, with number 171035, 1st Section – is held at the head office in Barcelona, Calle Pere II de Montcada, 1, presided by Artur Suqué, President of the Association and Secretary Miguel Suqué Mateu. Between 10 and 15 October 2011, 25 Hispano Suiza cars participate in the 1st Punto Radio - Catalonia Classic Car Rally.
2014. DAMIÁN MATEU BISA 150th anniversary
Damián Mateu, was born in 1864 and founded Hispano Suiza in 1904. In 2014, the 150th anniversary of his birth is celebrated with the publication of the commemorative book DAMIÁN MATEU I BISA, Empresari, Promotor I Colleccionista (Damián Mateu I Bisa, Entrepreneur, Promoter And Collector), published by Associació Cultural Castell de Peralada. Initiatives include the exhibition held at Palau Robert in Paseo de Gràcia, Barcelona, organized by the Government of Catalonia.
2018. 1ST HISPANO-SUIZA VUELTA A ESPAÑA
Hispano Suiza Club organises the event, which includes a number of stages across Spain.
2019. 1ST HISPANO-SUIZA VUELTA A ESPAÑA