Hispano Suiza Carmen Claims Barcelona Streets: And Its Own Brand

At least four parties want the historic brand for themselves.

On July 29, the Hispano Suiza Carmen crossed Barcelona streets and avenues in what appears to be just a marketing stunt. Such as the one Ford performed with the electric F-150 prototype. But it is way more than that. It is a struggle for the right to use the brand.

For the ones not familiar with classic cars, Hispano Suiza was the most important Spanish brand before WWII. Known for its luxurious and innovative vehicles, it had the brains of the Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt and the financial touch of the Catalan entrepreneur Damià Mateu.

Mateu died in 1935 and the automotive division of the company in Spain was nationalized in 1946. The airplane engine division, based in France, was already nationalized in 1920 and eventually bought by Safran in 1968.

This says a lot about the mess around the rights to use the brand. It was both used for cars and for airplane engines and parts. The airplane division still used the name until very recently.