Name from the past mulls the sports car of the future

by Antony Ingram
17 February 2022 2 min read
Name from the past mulls the sports car of the future
Images: Istituto Europeo di Design/Hispano Suiza

Hispano Suiza hasn’t spent a great deal of its 118-year history actually making cars, but in its early 20th century heyday it had a reputation for both elegance and technical innovation the envy of many other marques.

Most recently revived in 2019 with the Carmen electric sports car, the brand is once again aiming to forge a niche among the world’s boutique carmakers.

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With a further nod to the future, Hispano Suiza has worked with students at the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Turin to reinterpret one of the brand’s most significant historical models, the Alfonso XIII.

Hispano Suiza Alfonso XIII
King Alfonso XIII of Spain driving his Hispano Suiza of the same name. Photo: Hispano Suiza

Built for the eponymous King of Spain in 1911, the Alfonso XIII – also known as the T45 – was a true sports car of its day, its 59bhp, four-cylinder engine enabling a top speed of 75mph. It was, as the Fast Show used to say, great being king.

It’s not bad being a design student either, particularly when you’re given free rein to reinterpret a historically significant model. Under the advice and guidance of Hispano Suiza Design Director, Francesc Arenas, the third-year students at IED have created a series of eye-catching shapes, more than a few of which would look right at home on modern roads.

There’s certainly real diversity in the studies. Some, like Anvil, Lucia and Montserrat, take quite a literal approach to reviving a design from the 1910s, with narrow bodies and exposed wheels.

Others have gone down a more overtly modern path with enclosed cockpits and covered wheels. If we had to pick just one ourselves, the nod would perhaps go to LILY – a tandem roadster that, but for a pair of rear wheels out on pods, would make a mighty fine rival for Morgan’s upcoming three-wheeler.

Each is designed in celebration too of Hispano Suiza’s upcoming 120th anniversary, in 2024. “I am extremely proud to collaborate with the IED of Turin and to be able to offer the necessary tools to its students so that they let their imagination fly.” said Arenas.

“Innovation and passion for design are key elements in the history, present and future of Hispano Suiza.”

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