All it wanted was to capture the aftermath of Spain’s annual Tomatina festival, but in the end, the Google Street View car turned out to be a ripe target for tomato throwers.

The US firm had wanted to capture before-and-after pictures of the streets in the eastern town of Bunol during the annual festival when thousands of people hurl tomatoes at each other.

But the car reached the area before the hour-long food fight had finished, with dozens of youths clambering on top of it and pelting it with tomatoes, leaving it covered with red goo, online pictures show.

The car’s windows and mirrors as well as its cameras were damaged, Spanish media said, but Google said no-one had been injured.

“The Street View team went to the Tomatina festival where they were going to collect images after the tomato fight,” the company said.

“Unfortunately there were still people when we arrived with the car, which ended up trapped between the people and suffered some damage.”

Bunol mayor Rafael Perez denounced it as an act of vandalism.

Google operates a fleet of vehicles that compile panoramic images of city streets around the world for its Google Maps site.

Some 22,000 revellers from around the world attended Wednesday’s festival, hurling a total of 170 tonnes of tomatoes at each other for the 70th anniversary of the “Tomatina”.