by Rodrigo Toledo, additional images by Doug Breithaupt, Mark Foster, Patrick Scherf, Christian Falkensteiner
Spain was destroyed at the end of the Civil War (1936-39) The victorious nationalists leaded by the General Francisco Franco, took the government and started the reconstruction, while almost all Europe was involved in the WWII. Because of that, besides the fact the most part of the national factories were destroyed in the Civil War or don't had the production capacity to attend the requirements, the country had a real scarcity on trains, lorries, busses and cars. The remains of the legendary company Hispano-Suiza were nationalized, and became ENASA, maker of reliable lorries and busses, and beautiful sport in the 50s cars under the marque Pegaso, directed by Wilfredo Ricart, former chief engineer in Alfa Romeo.
The first attempt to mass production cars was done by Fiat in 1939, in association with 5 Spanish banks, but the world war frustrated the plans. Anyway, a major investor was needed, and the capital came from the Spanish government, thanks to the first credit done by the US Congress to Spain. With italian tecnology, american tools and machinery, and the Spanish state protection, Seat ( Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo or Spanish Society of Touism Automobiles) was founded in 1950, and by 1953 the first model, the Fiat 1400A, came out of the new plant of Zona Franca de Barcelona ( Cataluña, NE Spain)
In the beginning, the plant just assembled the talian parts, so the first workers turned the acronym meaning into " Siempre Estarás Apretando Tornillos" ( You will be always tightenning screws) The massive incorporation of locally produced parts changed the plant in a real factory but the 1400 even succesful, was not the car which can motorize the country. This honour came to the humble 600. First introduced by Fiat in Geneve in 1955, this car was produced in Spain between 1957 to 1973. Designed by Dante Giacosa in his usual pattern to make the spacious car in the smallest body as he did it before in the 1400, 500 Topolino and Balila, this was a nice 2 doors-rear engined car, with 633 cc and 19hp, but later evolved to 767cc with 25 and 32hp. This car had a capital importance, because in despite the price around US$1000 and really long waiting lists, was the most suuccesful car in the 60s and became the symbol of the Spanish economic development and the first massive motorization in a way that their Fiat cousin maybe never reached in Italy. Besides, in 1964, it provided the base of the first national variation in a Fiat body, introducind the 800 a 600 with 40 doors and 767 engine.
In 1959, the 1400A/B made room for the 1400C, which used the body of the new Fiat 1800/2100 (later 2300). As the engine was really weak for handle the weight of the car, the Seat tecnicians took the 1481cc/72hp from the Fiat 1300/1500 ( a smaller car) to introduce the 1500 as a saloon or estate. Thois was a good idea even for Fiat, who made the same for the italian market, offering as a 1500L (long). Other model introduced was the 850, offered since 1965 as a 2 doors saloon or a coupé. Also was offered a 4 doors-3 volumes model called the Especial, unique to Spain.
Seat was not alone in the market, as FASA-Renault, Citroën, or Spanish
industrialists such Eduardo Barreiros, who made lorries and diesel engines
before to take licences for the Simca 1000 and the Dodge Dart, enlarged
the maket offer with new models. To keep the leadership, Seat launched the
124 in 1968 as a saloon or estate, and in 1970 as a coupé. A luxury
sallon model was launched as the 1430. After 14 years of loyal services,
the 1500 neé 1400C, was replaced by the 132, a car with 1600, 1800
and 2000cc. twin camshafted engines.
By 1973, the oil crisis crushed the western economies. The new middle classes asked for a practical and economic to run, yet fiun to drive, small and spacious car. The Seat 127, launched in 1972 as a 2 or 3 doors hatchback, was a big hit, even if now had to fight strongly against the Renault 5 for the national preferences. In 1974, the 133, the first real national design, replaced both the 600 and 850 with a 2 doors-rear engined fastback. The 131, launched in 1975 as a saloon or a estate with 1430 and 1600 engines, soon used the 132 engines, and became a popular sporive car.
In 1975, the King Juan Carlos I leaded Spain into democracy and the approach
to the European Community, after the long dictature of the died General
Franco. Seat had to fight against more competitors like Ford and GM/Opel,
and also against a more massive presence of imports cars. Even worse, Seat
had to absorbe the British Leyland plant in Landaben, Navarra and now had
a excessive wiorkforce, prodcing a large range of models in a overcrowded
market. The Spanish government asked Fiat to take over the control of the
company, but the italian refused because the government refused to cut jobs
and rationalize the company. In despite of the crisis, the second own design,
the 1200 Sport, was launched in 1976 to give a smaller replacement for the
124 Coupé.The 3 doors hatchback version of the 128 was released (
1976-79) to prepare the market for the all new Ritmo (1978-84) turned Ronda
( 1984-87) The last Fiat design made by Seat was the Panda, launched in
1980 and evolved into the Marbella in 1986.
The Spanish govenment finally invested in new models, Ibiza I (1984) and Málaga (1985), rationalized the range of products and cut many jobs. Volkswagen was interested, and absporbed Seat in 1990. The current Seat are reliable and improved models, with a sporty appealing. It's sad that such cars as the Ibiza II (1993) Toledo I (1991) or Córdoba I ( 1995) were not made in small scale. We can hope that the current line, lead by the León and the Altea can attract the attention for 1/64 models.
Seat 600 - Paya
Seat 850 - Paya
Seat 850 - Guisval
Seat 124 - Guisval
Seat 124 - Paya
Seat 124 Coupe - Guisval
Seat 127 - Guisval
Seat 127 - Guisval
Seat 128 - Mira
A Review of the 1/64 Scale Seat Models
All of these were made by Spanish firms, but models of Italian Fiats can enlarge the collection.
400 A/B: No diecast model for this car although Ingap of Italy made a plastic 1/70 model of the Fiat.
600: Payá was the leader of the Spanish toy industry in the 60s. They made the 600 as a beautiful 1/20 tin plate model, a controlled model or a 1/64 diecast toy in the International series, as well as a a clockwork toy in the same scae, claimed to be the smallest in the world in the Autopulga series. Very expensive models and hard to found these days. Fiat versions made by Buby and Siku.
850: The normal 2 doors version was made by Payá in both Autopulga and International series. A beautiful coupé was made by Guisval. Penny Politoys and Playart made the Coupé Fiat.
1400C/1500: No Spanish model was done, but being the same car as the 1500L/1800/2100/2300 Fiat, the Siku1800 saloon and Mini Dinky 2300 are very appropriated to represent this car.
124: 4 doors was done by Payá , and Guisval did it in street and police versions. The coupé was one of the most beautiful Guisval castings, with accurate colours, open doors, interiors and metallic base, but later was simplified, loosing the opening doors and the interiors.The coupé castings were used after by Aguti in Argentina. Fiat versions done by Penny Politoys, later by Polistil for the saloon, and a coupé was done by Playart.
132: Guisval made this one. Beautiful Fiat model by Polistil.
127: Again Guisval made a nice casting with doors and interiors. Majorette, Polistil and Mercury complete the Fiat models.
133: The real car was sold in some European countries. assembled in Egypt and made in Argentina as a Fiat. Not surprise that the only model was a Fiat made by Prototipos Jet in Argentina.
131: Guess what? Guisval did a 131 saloon, but the best was made by Mirá in a scale closer to 1/55, with metallic base and quite beautiful street and rallye models. The best estate was the Pilen model, a heavy 1/66 miniature all metal with street police and fire car versions; this casting later was simplified by Guiloy, who offered a odd rally estate. Italian models done by Polistil and Norev Mini Jet.
128: The only hatchback version in the world was a Seat made by Mirá. Beautiful model, available in street or rallye, acrylic box or card versions.
1200 Sport: Released by Mirá in the same way as the 128 and 131.
Ritmo: Released by Mirá and Guisval, both as street or rallye cars, but the Mirá was the best. Polistil Rallye, Majorette and Norev Mini Jet made Fiat models.
Panda: Guiloy made the perfect model. Right body, perfect interiors, realistic decals, opening doors and heavy metal base in a acrylic box; only problem was the scale, closer to 1/49-1/50. Guisval offered a nice yet more humble model, with plastic base. Fiat made by Polistil.
Ibiza I: This car was a hit in the Spanish market as well as in the export. However, now was the Spanish toy industry who suffered the crisis, so Guisval and Mirá offered simple models, as well as Gisima did it.
Málaga: The real car was a much more obvious 4 door-3 volumes version of the Ritmo than the Fiat Regata never was. The Guisval casting don't reflected this fact very well; the street and rally models don't had interiors and the base was plastic.
Seat 131 - Guisval
Seat 131E - Mira
Seat 131F - Guiloy
Seat 1200 - Mira
Seat Ritmo - Mira
Seat Panda - Guisval
Seat Ibiza - Guisval
Seat Ibiza - Gisima
Seat Malaga - Guisval