Reimagining the world’s first sportscar for the 21st century and beyond

Hispano Suiza-IED concept 2022

At motorshows and other exhibitions, carmakers often display concept cars which have advanced designs that suggest what cars will look like in future. They have various bodystyles, suggesting that there will still be variety, and sportscars are popular subjects for futuristic design studies.

The carmakers’ studios have numerous designs for the future but sometimes they also go outside the company to get ideas which may be of value. For instance, Hispano Suiza has worked with students of the ‘Istituto Europeo di Design’ (IED) in Turin, Italy to develop a creative project linked to the 120th anniversary of the brand, which will be celebrated in 2024.

The third-year students of IED Turin Triennial Course in Transportation Design, thanks to their knowledge and imagination, have risen up to the challenge of reinterpreting the Hispano Suiza Alfonso XIII, built about 100 years ago, and adapting it to the near future.

The Spanish King in the Hispano Suiza sportscar which was named after him.

World’s first sportscar

The model, also known as the Type 45, was produced between 1911 and 1920 and is considered the first sportscar in automotive history. It was commissioned by King Alfonso XIII of Spain himself, who was passionate about cars and also the brand. His brief was simple: he wanted a sporty and agile model.

The 2-seater Hispano Suiza met his expectations. With its 3616 cc 4-cylinder engine and 60 ps that powered the rear wheels, it was able to reach a maximum speed of 120 km/h, certainly quite a high speed at that time. 500 units were produced up till 1920 and the King allowed his name to be used for the model. Not surprisingly, some of the cars were also used in races and were victorious.

What would the car look like today?

With the car’s significance, and following the collaboration agreement with the IED in Turin, Hispano Suiza invited the students of the Triennial Course in Transportation Design to reinterpret the Alfonso XIII. The students were asked to explore and design the exterior, interior and describe the user experience of the Alfonso XIII of the future, using the technology currently available, as well as their imagination.

Hispano Suiza-IED concept 2022

Hispano Suiza-IED concept 2022

Hispano Suiza-IED concept 2022

Francesc Arenas, Design Director of Hispano Suiza, has worked closely with the students involved in recent months, advising them, applying his invaluable know-how and experience in collaboration with the IED in Turin.

“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. Innovation and passion for design are key elements in the history, present and future of Hispano Suiza. For me and for everyone in the Hispano Suiza team, being able to advise, work and inspire these new talents has been a stimulating and very rewarding experience,” said Arenas.

Hispano Suiza-IED concept 2022

Hispano Suiza-IED concept 2022

“The implementation phases of the project represent, for the students, the moment to be free to express their creativity and the skills acquired during the technical, instrumental and theoretical classes,” explained Michele Albera, Coordinator of the IED Turin Triennial Transport Design Course. “The collaboration with Hispano Suiza has allowed the students to face the demands of a legendary automotive brand, pioneer of excellence in the automotive sector, and the needs of an international market, bringing out their personality and passion.”

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