If a car enthusiasts were asked to name a classic Spanish automobile, the luxurious Hispano-Suiza is likely to be the first, and possibly only, marquee named. If asked to name a current Spanish automobile make, even enthusiasts may say there are none, but they would be wrong.
From the numerous Spanish brands of automobiles that were once produced, today there is one remaining Spanish marquee still in production, the SEAT (pronounced Say-AHT). The SEAT derives its name from Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo, which translates into English as the Spanish Touring Car Company.
When first formed in the 1950s, SEAT partnered with Fiat to bring the Italian auto manufacturer’s expertise to Spain. As a result, SEAT models in the 1950s strongly resembled Fiats of the time, which continued until 1982, when this partnership was dissolved. At this point SEAT partnered with Volkswagen, who eventually purchased SEAT as a wholly owned subsidiary of the VW group. VW always gave SEAT independence in designing their cars, which yet today do not resemble other Volkswagen products. The SEAT is very popular in Spain today with strong retail sales as well as strong commercial sales including SEAT Spanish taxicabs and police cars. Today the SEAT is sold throughout the European Union and in many overseas markets. While not sold in the U.S., it is sold nearby in Mexico, with talks from time to time, that never materialized yet, to bring the SEAT to the U.S.
While the SEAT is Spain’s only domestic brand, you may be surprised to learn Spain competes with Germany as being the largest producer of automobiles in Europe and one of the top ten automobile producers in the world. Many well-know European makes are produced in Spain’s factories, including Fiat, Renault, VW, Audi, Citron and Peugeot.
See the attached slide show of classic Hispano-Suizas, vintage and new SEATs, as well as other unique vehicles recently spotted on the streets of Madrid and Barcelona, Spain’s two largest cities.
Trivia Question: What was the last year of production for the Hispano-Suizas?
Answer to the last classic car article’s Trivia Question: The car sitting in front of the Antique Archeology shop in LeClair, Iowa and frequently shown on the TV show “American Pickers” is a 1950 Nash Airflyte Statesman two door.
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