The Auto show in Barcelona held in 2019 its centenary in the midst of a period in which the own Room, and all the car industry search for your identity. But speaking of cars and 100 years of history is a valuable symbolic capital that is summarized in a fact: in 1919, when was held the first edition there were only 10 of the 33 brands present this year, and of them, only Fiat, Ford, Renault and Skoda were the most ancient of what is now Tesla. Diariomotor visited an event without just news but with a lot of interesting stories of the past, present and future of the automobile.
Hispano Suiza, 100 years later: we Spoke with Francesc Arenas, designer Carmen
Surely no booth better represents the mix of past and future than the Hispano Suiza. Despite a “hibernation” of more than 70 years, the Spanish brand is the only one to have repeated in the first edition of the living Room and in the centennial and, what is even more unusual, while still being in the hands of the family of the founder. The person who made possible the survival of the brand was Carmen Mateu, who’s new model takes the name. Deceased in 2018, Carmen was the granddaughter of the founder of Hispano Suiza, and in addition to create the Music Festival of the Peralada Castle kept the brand in the family to pass it on to his son Miguel Suquet, the current owner.
“Somehow it is inevitable not to feel some stage fright in the design process, because this is the revival of a historic brand”, says Francesc Sands, designer of Carmen. The car, built from a monocoque construction of carbon and moved by two electric motors that add up to more than 1000 horses, it is a machine of our time, for good and for bad, but its exterior has design features a century old. “The inspiration of the game was the Dubonnet Xenia, but this is a completely new car and we needed something more than a tribute, had to retake the DNA of the brand,” explains Sands as we watch the car closely.
The Dubonnet Xenia was the private car of André Dubbonet, heir of a wealthy French family who became a racing driver of Hispano Suiza, and to whom some attribute the idea to incorporate the emblem of the stork to the front of the cars in 1919. Built by Saoutchik, the unique piece was manufactured in 1938 and, after a long history of comings and goings, is now owned by the Mullin Automotive Museum of Oxnard, California.
The drop shape of the rear fins and wheels keeled are the trait more evident that Carmen shares with the Xenia. Despite a solid appearance and strange, the sensation improves when we observe the car live. “In the back is obviously the memory of Xenia, but we also wanted to draw on the silhouette of the stork to model the end of the car and direct the flow of air”, says Francesc pointing at the gills on each side of the centre tunnel in the tail of the car, “for example these gills, which are necessary for the ventilation of the batteries, are also carefully placed and designed to help visually set back”.
What do Hispano Suiza coachwork to the letter as is the trend among the brands hiperlujo? Sands dismisses it outright: “In a car of this type, we will do customizations exhaustive, but the body is largely determined by the structure of carbon fiber and we will not make modifications that go beyond any aero kit…” he says pointing to the back window “… for example this rear triangle that reaches to the end of the car forms part of the structure of carbon fiber so that it cannot be modified”.
The Carmen is many things, but the brand also have a clear sense of what it is not. “We’re not going to do as a Child at the Nürburgring, we are not interested in the record of fastest lap in the circuit,” says a relaxed Arenas “Can we do some act to demonstrate the maximum speed…” he adds, but making it clear that Carmen is not here to fight for the last tenth of the timer. In the new Hispano Suiza is very present the concept car of conglomerate presence to travel with the maximum comfort “…so maybe in the future it would make more sense to a saloon,” says Francis with a smile.
100 years ago, 42 miles, 23 cars, 1 glacier
A century is a long time. Enough to be born and disappear countries, revolucionen communications and the arts to transform your language. To get to the icing on the return of Hispano Suiza the centenary of the Barcelona show had to have a memorial that encompasses all that heritage symbolic. Fermí Solé and Pablo Gimeno have curated a selection of vehicles that travel through the car, the distance technical, cultural and historical that goes from 1919 to 2019.
23 cars and 3 motorcycles make up a journey that is more than to construct a discourse on the history of the last century, it is proposed to document the cars with the greatest significance for the evolution of the automobile or to the Hall of Barcelona, by choosing two or three examples per decade. “In many decades has been an exercise in truly difficult” confides Pablo Gimeno as we wander between the last touch-ups of the mounting and the frenzied preparation of the pavilion for lunch with the King the next day.
But when you talk about the car and the XX century the influence of the popular culture quickly builds a speech, even if you don’t want to. Some of the cars selected are a direct reference to James Bond, as the BMW Z8 or Aston Martin DB5 (of a dark grey color that the fans of the silver cars of 007 maybe desaprobarán). The Jeep Willys or the Buick 76C Roadmaster , 1941, are part of the scene of any film about the Second World War (or “Cars”) but also, as we learn from Paul Gimeno, the Buick is significant because it is among the last cars produced before the militarization of american factories during the war. Nor does it lack one of the Ferrari most represented (and perhaps not so understood) in popular culture, the Testarossa, which has become an icon of the 1980s by “Corruption in Miami” but also by the video game “Out Run”. And an equivalent of the 1930s is the Cord 812 (1937), a car whose aesthetic and technical solutions make this in almost each meeting or publication of the classics of pre-war.
However the block more interesting of the pieces selected is the one that has to do directly with the history of the Spanish automotive or with the Salon itself. For example, as reminded by the commissioners, the only unit of Elizalde that is preserved in its entirety, a T48 of 1918, and that looks in an enviable status at the entrance of the exhibition, not far from the monumental Hispano Suiza H6C. Little further up is one of the few (and not so well known) David in a beautiful body of orange and a few meters later a Pegaso Z-102 was sold in body Saoutchik , but that past the time he received the dress of a “Rabassada”. But in the meantime, myth and exotic, perhaps the pieces most unique are two Seat, with a very particular history.
On the one hand the Seat 1500 with registration B – 80000 (1970) that was part of the fleet of the Hall, and that it is used as a transport for the delegations and visitors with official positions, who still wears the badge of the reserve parking at the show and a small dock in the front to put flags of the respective country the passenger. On the other, the famous Toledo electric who, during the Olympic Games of Barcelona, Seat, developed to accompany the olympic torch during its recent relays and also to the Marathon, for which there was that to ensure that they were able to navigate over 42 km with a single charge…
Among the bikes, the two that accompany the venerable Guzzi 65 have juicy stories. The Montesa Impala is one of the units of pre-series, the property of the family Permanyer, who participated in the “Operation Impala”, an expedition in which five riders crossed Africa from north to south in 1962. The Bultaco is one of the 6 Sherpa who took part in the expedition of 1973 to the Himalayas, which reached the record height achieved by a motorbike, 5140 meters, at the foot of the Glacier, Imja, to the south east of Lhotse, immortalized in the book Dimas Veiga “Himalaya Namaste”.
Finally, but in reality at the beginning of the exhibition, show the posters of all the editions since 1919. As much or more than the car itself, the signage is a perfect “time capsule” to understand how it has changed the imagery of the car in these 100 years, and how it has changed the aesthetics of the world with him. And also to understand the role played by the car in the past no longer exists and it is necessary to find a new one.
In Diariomotor: Photos and official data of Hispano Suiza Carmen