Cart 0

Suixtil: The Story and Revival of the First Professional Racing Gear

story suixtil

Suit up and step aboard the Suixtil time machine


The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted the distinctive Suixtil logo at historic motorsport events across the world (such as Goodwood Festival of Speed, Le Mans or Mille Miglia), be it stitched onto a driver’s shirt, or adorning the bodywork of a priceless classic. This is the story of the clothing brand inherently linked to the golden era of motorsport…

Founded in Argentina in the early 1930s, Suixtil capitalised on the immense popularity of motorsport and car racing and quickly became the clothing brand for racing drivers. The mastermind was Salomon Rudman, a Russian immigrant who built the business into a great success, driven by his passions, most prominent of which was motorsport. Suffice to say, he had a jolly good time along the way.

The first professional racing gear

Jean Behra, Harry Schell, Sebring 1958

Jean Behra and Harry Schell at Sebring 1958 ©GBussian

When the Automóvil Club Argentino established the national racing team in 1948 to contest the Formula 1 (F1) and Formula 2 (F2) Championships in Europe, Suixtil became the sponsor, supplying the alliance with quality racing apparel.

Juan Manuel Fangio, a 35 year old truck driver from Balcarce, was the star racer in the Escuderia Suixtil driver line-up. His Argentinean teammates were Benedicto Campos, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, and Onofre Marimon.

 

Juan Manuel Fangio Buenos Aires 1966

Juan Manuel Fangio in his F3 Brabham BT, Buenos Aires 1966

The Escuderia Suixtil had access to world class equipment: initially two Maseratis 4CLT/48, and later two Ferraris Tipo 166 F2. In between Fangio also secured a seat with Simca-Gordini. Suixtil was sponsoring the national team and supplying all the racing outfits, hence the name "Escuderia Suixtil".

Traditionally then, the specially crafted Suixtil racing uniform consisted of light blue race pants and a yellow or white short sleeve shirt, both proudly sporting the distinctive red Suixtil embroidered name.

Karl Kling, Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Sweden

Karl Kling, Juan Manuel Fangio and Sir Stirling Moss in Sweden 1955 ©CorsaResearch

The uniforms were particularly significant in that they had been designed, a first in the sport, for the racers and based on their specific requests for such things as narrow bottoms (hence the ankle cuffs), light fabric to alleviate the heat of the cockpits (therefore the light twill cotton), high waistband with elastic (taking away the need for a belt that cut in the blood flow) as well as deep pockets to stuff anything and everything required for these grueling rallies (like wrenches and screwdrivers).

 

Seal of approval

Juan Manuel Fangio, Sir Stirling Moss, Hans Herrmann, Peter Collins, Jean Behra, Maurice Trintignant: just a few of the famous – and extremely successful – drivers who proudly wore the Suixtil logo, demonstrating the brand’s prominence and popularity in the world of motorsport in the ’50s and ’60s.


sir stirling moss maserati 300s sebring 1957

Sir Stirling Moss in his Maserati 300S, Sebring 1957 ©GBussian

As the success and fame of the Escuderia Suixtil grew rapidly, so did the popularity of the Suixtil racing outfit. Between the fact that the clothes were the first made for racers and the combination that the Argentinean are winning everything (and who does not want some of that luck to rub-off) and great fun to be with, the Suixtil clothes become the standard at the track and can be seen on the podium of most great races of the time.

Fangio gladly gave away his race pants and shirts to other F1 challengers and friends. The Suixtil race gear became the "must-have" outfit for any race driver in Europe and the Americas. It was the very first generation of professional race gear. 


suixtil race gloves and hatsuixtil race pants nassau polo and gloves


Today, the same Suixtil race pants and shirts, together with the polo shirts and the royal blue sweater, have become the foundation of The Heritage Line, a faithful rendition of that original Suixtil racing uniform.

Revival

Suixtil was closed in 1967, following the death of its founder, Rudman, and remained so until 2008, when Frenchman Vincent Metais re-launched the brand as a commercial venture selling quality and stylish menswear, centered on an authentic ‘Heritage’ line that takes direct inspiration from those Suixtil garments of the past.

vincent metais suixtil racing gloves in cockpit

Vincent Metais re-launched the Suixtil Brand in 2008.

“To us it seemed such a natural thing to do,” he told Classic Driver. “It's a story that deserves to be told, because as with most stories from that time, it’s one of courage, faith and trials. I keep wondering what compelled these guys to race and I think the simplest explanation is that they valued the present, and not the future. They lived in the instant, all the time, and I love that philosophy. That spirit is still very much alive, but it’s been bridled.”

A spirit captured

Metais has bolstered the appeal of the revived Suixtil by supporting the fiercely popular world of historic motorsport, and you’ll find the logo featured at almost every motorsport event on the calendar, even if it’s simply a well-placed sticker. “It’s funny because the cars are emblematic of the spirit we’re trying to capture, and it really started by chance. A bunch of my friends asked if we had decals, because they thought it would help with exposure. So we made some for them and now we’ve started shipping them with every order. It’s amazing the response we’ve had.”

 

Sir striling moss

More than just clothing

As before, Suixtil is about far more than just clothing. “It’s connected to an audience of people who are fascinated by the same thing we are,” says Metais. “The clothing is interesting, of course, but to me it’s just a vehicle – just a medium of that same passion we all share for that era of motorsport.” Metais is incredibly knowledgeable on the subject, and his enthusiasm and ambition is infectious. “We didn’t have to reinvent the wheel – it was there, we had Suixtil, and at the time it was universal. Motor racing itself was just an extension of the vitality that people had after the Second World War, and it was such a great time.”

The sky’s the limit


suixtil driving car


Given the burgeoning interest in classic cars and historic motorsport, we’d say the future looks bright for Suixtil. “Ultimately, I’d like to do so much more,” concluded Metais, “but I’m grounded in reality. I think people like the fact that it’s not fickle, not ever-changing – it’s an era, and it’s authentic.”

Many of these emblematic pieces of the Heritage line are available in our shop. Have a look around and imagine what it would feel like to dress like the legends!

 

Article by Alex Easthope, published in Classic Driver, 20 november 2015. Parts of the article have been adapted for completeness and congruency with our website.
Photos: Suixtil, Tony Baker/Classic & Sports Car, Bernhard Völker, Vercelli Archives, Tom Burnside © santens.co, IMRRC at Watkins Glen, BARC Boys, Gene Bussian, CORSA Research, Archives Maurice Louche, Rémi Dargegen courtesy of RM Sotheby's, Classic Garage Marc Vogers, Peter Singhof.

Older Post Newer Post