Founded by a state-owned holding company (Instituto Nacional de Industria) in 1950 and bought by the Volkswagen Group in 1986, SEAT have produced a wide range of sport, saloon and rally cars that have helped to revitalise Spain’s car market. In the early 1900s, Spain’s economy was underdeveloped in comparison to the rest of Europe, with a limited automobile market and little local production. Furthermore, they were being flooded by cheap imports which deprived the country of the technological knowledge and large investments needed for mass production.
This situation greatly deteriorated during the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939), due to casualties, devastation and damage to industrial equipment, which the Spanish government needed to reverse. With the support of Spanish industrial companies, the ‘Sociedad Ibérica de Automóviles de Turismo’ (S.I.A.T.) was founded with the aim of establishing Spain’s own mass-production car maker.
However, the project was delayed as Spain was in ruins from the civil war, and the rest of Europe had just entered World War 2. SEAT was founded in 1950 with starting capital of 600 million pesetas – equivalent to 3.6 million Euros today – and the aim of designing and producing SEAT tyres, parts and cars all in Spain.
This Spanish miracle of a brand contributed to the economic boom in the years between 1959 and 1974 by producing SEAT tyres, motors and more in Spain, promoting Spanish industry. SEAT initially focussed on compact, affordable cars, and this legacy has endured in the renowned supermini selection of the Spanish brand. Whether you’re racing on narrow Mediterranean roads or doing doughnuts in a supermarket car park, SEAT’s feisty range of compact cars are fun to drive and affordable to buy. Make sure to choose high-performance SEAT tyres or go for the budget options if you blew all your money on a spoiler and go Spanish above all else. Viva España!