Recounting Hispano-Suiza’s Storied History

Images: Hispano-Suiza

The Hispano-Suiza exhibition encompasses a journey through various decades: from the beginning of the 20th century, when Hispano-Suiza was founded, to the present day. After passing through a sumptuous hall, the public will be able to visit a recreation of the offices of Damián Mateu and Marc Birkigt, where countless business and technical ideas emerged and took shape, turning Hispano-Suiza into a point of reference for luxury, comfort and technical solutions. In this area, the original painting 'Dame with a mink' by Ramon Casas takes pride of place: it was used as an illustration on the company's original shares.

In the Hispano-Suiza workshop, several mechanical components are on display, mainly from Salvador Claret’s Car Collection. Elements such as the Hispano-Suiza Alfonso XIII radiator, a 12-cylinder aircraft engine crankshaft, a Hispano-Suiza T15/20 engine block as well as headlights, tyres, a camshaft and a vintage toolbox are on display, in addition to many other pieces.

In the Hispano-Suiza workshop, components and parts of the early cars are on display

Within the exhibition there are also several trophies that the brand won throughout its illustrious history. The 'journey to the past' ends with the exhibition of the Hispano-Suiza K6, a 120bhp model produced between 1934 and 1937, of which some 200 units were manufactured. It was the car owned by Miguel Mateu and is now owned by the Suqué Mateu family.

The tour culminates with the current Hispano Suiza which was re-launched in 2019, with Miguel Suqué Mateu, great-grandson of the founder at the helm of the company. It features iconic pieces such as the Hispano-Suiza Carmen front grille, the rear wings of the Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne, as well as other unique pieces. The two current models, 100 percent electric, follow the same philosophy that Mateu and Birkigt set out over a century ago: apply the latest technology to luxury cars and maintain the exclusivity of a historic brand.

A recreation of the offices of Damián Mateu and Marc Birkigt

"The history of Hispano-Suiza deserves to be told to future generations and with the opening of this exhibition our dream of sharing our legacy with the visitors of the Peralada Castle Museum comes true," Miguel Suqué Mateu, the Chairman of Hispano-Suiza, and the great-grandson of the founder of the company, was quoted as saying in the press release. He masterminded the return of the ‘flying stork’ in 2019.

Another view of the working area

“It has taken years of hard work to put together this collection that combines the past and the present of Hispano-Suiza. We had to find a proper space in the Museum to be able to showcase this fantastic exhibition. Now, our brand is the latest work of art showcased at the Peralada Castle Museum,” added Miguel Suqué Mateu.

The work table that Damián Mateu used

On the official opening day of the exhibition, the Fédération Internationale de Véhicules Anciens (FIVA) presented the Suqué Mateu Family with a trophy recognizing Damián Mateu Bisa as one of the "14 heroes in the world of automotive history". These trophies are awarded annually, and the winners become members of the FIVA Heritage Hall of Fame. Peter Edqvist, Senior Vice President of FIVA, presented the award to the Suqué Mateu family in Damián Mateu’s memory.

The Hispano-Suiza K6 that used to belong to Miguel Mateu

The Peralada Castle Museum is located in the town of Peralada (Girona), and it is built on an old convent located next to the castle, to which it is now directly connected.

The Hispano-Suiza Carmen front grille and the rear wings of the Hispano-Suiza Carmen Boulogne

In 1923, the castle was put up for sale and acquired by Miguel Mateu Pla, an important entrepreneur from Barcelona and son of Damián Mateu. Miguel Mateu was a key figure on the cultural scene, establishing himself as one of the greatest art collectors of his time. The Peralada Castle Museum is an impressive example of his passion for art.

The Hispano-Suiza stork, designed by François Bazin, in all its glory

In 1972, Miguel Mateu's daughter Carmen and her husband Arturo Suqué took charge of the management and conservation of the Castle's historical and cultural heritage. The Peralada Castle Museum currently includes a 14th century Church and cloister; a Wine Museum, located within the old cellars of the Carmelite friars, where winemaking began in the 14th century; a Glass Museum, one of the most important collections in the world featuring over 2,500 pieces, and an amazing Library, with more than 100,000 volumes and a stunning collection of over 1,000 editions of 'Don Quixote de la Mancha' by Miguel de Cervantes.

The interiors of the family Hispano-Suiza K6

The Museum is a clear statement revealing the passion of the Suqué-Mateu family for culture and conservation of historical heritage spanning over three generations.


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