Hispano-Suiza was a Spanish automotive and engineering firm, best known for its luxury cars and aviation engines in the pre-World War II period of the twentieth century. In 1923 its French subsidiary became a semi-autonomous partnership with the parent company. In 1968, the French arm was taken over by the aerospace company Snecma, now a part of the French SAFRAN Group. The Spanish parent sold all its automotive assets to Enasa in 1946.
In 1898 a Spanish artillery captain, Emilio de la Cuadra, started electric automobile production in Barcelona under the name of La Cuadra. In Paris, De la Cuadra met the Swiss engineer Marc Birkigt (1878–1953) and hired him to work for the company in Spain. La Cuadra built their first gasoline-powered engines from a Birkigt design. At some point in 1902, the ownership changed hands to J. Castro and became Fábrica Hispano-Suiza de Automóviles (Spanish-Swiss Car Factory) but this company went bankrupt in December 1903.
Yet another restructuring took place in 1904, creating La Hispano-Suiza Fábrica de Automóviles, under Castro’s direction, also based in Barcelona. Four new engines were introduced in the next year and a half. 3.8-litre and 7.4-litre four-cylinder and a pair of big six-cylinder engines were produced. This company managed to avoid bankruptcy and its largest operations remained in Barcelona until 1946, where cars, trucks, buses, aero engines and weapons were produced.
France was soon proving to be a much larger market for their luxury cars than Spain. In 1911, a factory, called Hispano France, was set up in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret. In 1914, production was moved to larger factories at Bois-Colombes, under the name Hispano-Suiza…