Buckle Up and Explore the Fascinating History of SEAT
1950 – 1960 The beginning of a company
On May 9, 1950, the Sociedad Española de Automóvil de Turismo, SA was constituted. On June 5, 1953, the facilities of the Zona Franca de Barcelona were inaugurated.
On November 13, the first Seat was manufactured: 1400. On June 27, 1957, production of the 600 began, and with it, the mass motorization stage began in Spain. 1961-1970 Seat crosses the pond.
The Seat 1500 replaced 1400 in 1963. Two years later, the first export of Seat vehicles to Colombia was carried out.
In 1966, the brand launched the 850, a model equipped with the same mechanics as the 600 but more comfortable and spacious. It is the first vehicle to offer a wide range of versions: sports, four-door and convertible. At the end of the decade, production reaches one million units (1968).
1971 – 1980 The Martorell Technical Center arrived in 1973.
The construction of the Seat Technical Center in Martorell began, which began its activity two years later. The iconic 600 is also discontinued after 16 years on the market, with 800,000 units sold.
That same year, the Spanish manufacturer launched the luxurious 132, which replaced 1500. In 1974, the Landaben (Pamplona) facilities were acquired. In addition, in 1976, the Seat “three million” was produced, a 127 four-door.
1981 – 1990 German takeover.
On September 30, 1982, industrial and commercial cooperation agreements were signed with Volkswagen. Almost two years later, on April 27, 1984, the first Ibiza leaves the assembly lines of the Zona Franca, a model that will remain to this day.
The German automobile group acquired 51% of the shares of Seat in June 1986 (at the end of the year, it increased its stake to 75%). In addition, the Spanish manufacturer begins to export to Europe: Holland receives the first shipments of the brand’s new models.
On the other hand, the sports division is founded: Seat Sport. Three events mark the end of this decade: the beginning of the construction of the Martorell plant (1989), the purchase of new titles by Volkswagen until reaching 99,
1991 – 2000. The years of success.
Soon the first model developed within the Volkswagen Group arrived, the Seat Toledo (1991). The brand participates as a partner and sponsor of the Olympic Volunteers Program in Barcelona ’92.
On February 22, 1993, His Majesty King Juan Carlos I inaugurated the Martorell factory, located 30 kilometres from Barcelona.
The production of the new Ibiza begins, and the Córdoba appears. On September 26, 1995, the Prince of Asturias drove the “10,000,000” vehicle of the Martorell assembly line, a Toledo.
The following year, the brand wins the FIA 2L World Rally Championship with the Ibiza Kit Car on its debut in this competition, a triumph that repeats the following season.
The Spanish manufacturer presents new models: the Alhambra minivan, the small Arosa and the Córdoba Vario sedan. The 1998 Paris Motor Show is the date chosen for the presentation of Toledo, a vehicle that aims to modernize the image of the brand.
The Córdoba WRC begins its journey in the highest category of the World Rally Championship; meanwhile, the Ibiza Kit Car maintains its hegemony among the 2 litres adding its third consecutive victory. In 1999 came the new corporate identity of the brand and the compact León, a model representing the return of Seat to the leading segment of the European market.
The decade closes with the celebration of the brand’s 50th anniversary and the Technical Center’s 25th birthday. The Ibiza Kit Car maintains its hegemony among the 2 litres adding its third consecutive victory.
In 1999 came the new corporate identity of the brand and the compact León, a model representing the return of Seat to the leading segment of the European market. The decade closes with the celebration of the brand’s 50th anniversary and the Technical Center’s 25th birthday.
The Ibiza Kit Car maintains its hegemony among the 2 litres adding its third consecutive victory. In 1999 came the new corporate identity of the brand and the compact León, a model representing the return of Seat to the leading segment of the European market.
The decade closes with the celebration of the brand’s 50th anniversary and the Technical Center’s 25th birthday.
2001 – 2010 A renewed design and the WTCC
The millennium begins with the arrival of the León Cupra R and the new generation of Ibiza. The new Córdoba also appears, a more familiar proposal, and two years later, the Altea. For its part, Ibiza celebrates its 20 years of existence (2004), with more than 3.3 million units produced. With the sales success behind them, the second generation of the León (2005) and the new Ibiza arrive.
The Madrid and London Halls are the venues chosen for the debut of the León FR and Cupra, respectively. At the beginning of 2007, and after the arrival of the Altea XL, the Altea Freetrack prototype was presented in Geneva, a preview of what will be the first SUV in Seat’s history.
At the Frankfurt Motor Show, the firm was surprised with the Tribu concept car, an interpretation of a sports SUV, and the Ibiza Ecomotive, one of the most environmentally-friendly vehicles.
At the end of the year, the inauguration of the Seat Design Center (SDC) takes place. The celebration of the 50th anniversary of 600 and the Training Center are other important events of this decade.
During 2008, the brand continued to implement a long-term development plan called “Strategy 2018”, which seeks to extend the current range until 2018 with many models. This fact is evident with the launch of the new Ibiza (five-door and SC versions) and the presentation at the Paris International Motor Show of the Exeo, the first Seat saloon in the D segment (launched in spring 2009).
Secondly, the Drivers and Constructors title obtained by Seat Sport in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) takes centre stage after a season in which the León TDI is far superior in many races that make up the calendar.
Seat achieves absolute victory in an FIA World Championship and with a diesel vehicle for the first time. Investments in security and connectivity complete a critical year for the firm, which produces the “16 million” unit in its history.