A Photo for Sunday – They Grow Up so Fast

Don’t be fooled by the musicals, the rain in Spain falls on the coastline too.

Image: Driven to Write

Marbella in October can be precipitous and to be fair, this was the only day it rained during my recent visit, so I’m not complaining. The Irish are used to getting wet anyway, so I was hardly going to let a drop in atmospheric pressure interrupt my ongoing quest for a green car. However, while pounding the streets, I happened upon this duo and frankly, the photo rather suggested itself.

The car on the right is a second (Typ 6K according to the good people at Wikipedia) generation Seat Ibiza, first introduced in 1993 and styled (just like its forebear) by the fair hand of Ital Design under the supervision of maestro, Giugiaro.

The amount of older vehicles in service within this region of Southern Spain is both notable and laudable. A likely consequence of the overwhelmingly dry climate in the Costa del Sol (not today obviously), but also I would suggest the Spanish attitude to car ownership; which seems to be characterised by a lack of brand snobbery and a strong belief that a car is a purchase to be amortised over a lengthy period of time. Whatever the reason, it isn’t that unusual to see cars from the 1980s and ’90s in daily use, this mid-90s Ibiza being a case in point.

To its left, bedecked in blossom is its latter-day equivalent. While the Typ 6K was based on the platform of the 1994 VW Polo, it nevertheless (and in no small part to its designers) retained a distinct visual identity of its own. Today’s Ibiza however, while being an entirely well executed, sober and clean limbed shape, now looks more like a Polo than a Polo does.

Actually, I may need to rethink that comment, given the mess Volkswagen appear to have made of their latest Polo offering. These were not in evidence as yet during my Costa del Sol sojourn, but I have it on the reliable authority of Auto-Didakt’s resident styling commentator and critic that it’s a horror.

The other striking aspect of the latter-day Ibiza is its physical size, (which dwarfs its forebear), its higher beltline, (largely a consequence of safety regulations) and its dramatically smaller useful window area. The ’90s car is a veritable fishbowl by comparison. But that’s probably enough watery analogies for one day.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

14 thoughts on “A Photo for Sunday – They Grow Up so Fast”

  1. The saloon version of the early Ibiza always appeared to me as a smart little sport saloon and also better resolved than the part-graphic, part amorphous hatchback. The present car is very characterless indeed. Actually, Mr Photo, I bet it isn’t an Ibiza at all. It’s a VW or Skoda, right?

  2. At least in profile, the new Ibiza could be a Hyundai or Kia too. It’s a good effort, but the connection with the pre-VAG first Ibiza, which is clear in the 6K, has been completely lost.

    Still, all credit to SEAT for having a strong supermini contender. Their original partner, Fiat seems to have given up the effort in Europe, with the Punto being outsold by the White Hen most months.

  3. Higher beltlines/gun slit windows/thick pillars have nothing to do with safety regulation, it is nothing but a fad through and through. If anybody remembers the oracle Faith Popcorn and her theory about cocooning?

    On the Polo, the problem with the Polo is that it never har the same strong design language as the Golf, it was always sorta anodyne. And when the Golf grew, the Polo grew with it. They could’ve gone full retro and applied first gen Golf cues in absurdum, as the Polo has replaced the Golf size wise. Why not go a little crazy? The Polo don’t have a heritage anyway.

  4. Don’t get me wrong – this Ibiza is no masterpiece, and no minor masterpiece like the previous generation Polo either. But next to the all new, Heidedesigned Polo, it’s a very confident piece of automotive styling.

    Mind you, it’s rather colour sensitive. But, in keeping with Seat’s realignment efforts, it definitely benefits from not having to be a direct Alfa chaser anymore. The more sober approach of Señor Mesonero-Romanos is certainly a lot more convincing than the attempts at an ‘Auto Emocion’, courtesy of Walter de’ Silva and Luc Donckerwolke.

  5. errr.. i’ll try to make my point briefly and clearly (that’s asking too much maybe): i’m mostly unimpressed and sometimes disgusted at most of today’s car designs. i am very interested in the evolution of car designs over the decades, in all about cars, actually.. there is this motto, “form follows function”. and then, hey, this is business, we have to make money, and the demands of the market work in mysterious ways, so to say. this is what i see in most of today’s cars, by their looks: pretension pretension pretension.. the front-lights, which are the eyes, are just mad, angry. the calender (radiator grille), a pantagruelic mouth. the body is usually fat and absurdly bulbous, the waistline too high and steep. and.. absolutely no fucking rear vision. i live in spain, and yes, people here tend to nurse their cars. wages aren’t too high and unemployment is a fact. the village where i live, i came here a few years ago, and i’m still amazed at the how many peugeot 205s are still around, working. also 305s, 405s, 306s. the peugeot dealership must have done a pretty good job. also audi 80s, golfs mk2, 5th hand mercedes 190s. one fiat tempra has survived too, hehe. there’s this sticker, on the base of the peugeot 205 ample rear window, with the slogan: “contigo al fin del mundo”. rightly so!

    still pleased and impressed.. i just found you. very interesting articles.

    honestly, i lost interest in new cars in or around 1995 (i was born ’78). there’s plenty to enjoy in the years preceeding.

    1. Hello Mit: It’s the dry climate that helps. I’d like to see a running 305 saloon most of all.
      There are a few modern cars I like somewhat if I make excuses such overlook the excessive width or lack of rearward vision as you point out. Most of what I’d really like to own from new, with my own money, comes from Japan – small, eccentric vehicles rather than GTs or the like. We have a Tempra article here somewhere. How about the Regata? We will award a free 3-month unlimited subscription to DTW if you can snap a SEAT Ronda Crono and send it in.

    2. hello richard,

      spain usually means sun, except in northern spain!, where i live. it’s not manchester, you get sunny days specially in the summer, but then there are weeks of relentless showers. it’s all green and mountainous here. i think the tempra sleeps under roof. rust has taken its toll on some of those oldies.

      jeez, i was wrong, it’s the 309 that is still around. there’s even a lovely red 309 gti that sleeps on the street, or there it is everytime i pass this place. all original, such nice rims. the 305 saloon is awesome, agree. i can’t remember when i saw the last. the 505 is the swan song. i remember i peed on my pants the day my neighbour got himself a grey 405 mi16.. but the 505, that’s top of the class.

      a seat ronda crono! meow. it’s easier to see a rhd ferrari with a superfancy elderly briton couple inside. they come in the ferry and just cruise around. once i spotted, actually i awoke to the roaring thunder of a parade of tvrs through these quiet streets, fighting with the speed bumps. they seemed a bit lost.

      you get to see every once in a while a seat fura crono, 124s, 1430s, reworked and well taken care of. also gatherings of r8 gordinis. there’s craze for rallies in this part of spain, i guess it’s because of the mountains and the treacherous roads.

      when did you last see a ford taunus? a ford granada. a rover 3500. an escort mk3 xr3i (delightful). saabs 9000 are endangered species. an alfa 75, an alfa 90. love the clinical design, those are sweethearts. i saw you covered the 75 station wagon already.. meow. maserati biturbo, i know somebody who knows somebody who almost spotted one.

      i remember, when i was 8 maybe, i made my dad stop on the side of the road (we had a blue peugeot 504, and who cared about rear seatbelts, my head was usually between their headrests) to let this astonishing lamborghini espada that followed us in summer traffic pass. i’ll never forget that sight. i remember trips around southern france and to italy, and my jaw falling in nice and montecarlo’s garages. i’m talking about the 80s!

      about small smart japanese cars, yes i think they’re kind of cute and practical and goddamn smart. whenever i see a honda cr-z i’m intrigued, which i guess is good.

      sorry for the verborrhea and the melodrama. i left myself go.

    1. Hence the name: I’ll have done about 100,000 words this year.
      Oddly, I’ve seen most of those cars in my district barring the Alfa 90 which I saw once, in Dublin 25 years ago. I saw an Espada in Cologne. They are weird.
      The Fura Crono is new to me.

  6. The Fura Crona is a sort of reverse engineering of the 1200/1430 Sport powertrain into the 127 bodyshell. The 1200/1430 Sport – the original Bocanegra – used the 127 platform under the Aldo Sessano styled coupe superstructure, but with 124, rather than 100 series engines.

    Fiat did the same in a roundabout way with the OHC Brazilian 1050 and 1300 engines, which were 124-based, so in theory a 2 litre 127 was possible, assuming a gearbox could be found which was short and strong enough. As far as I know, the System Porsche engines (based in 124 engine tooling) never made it into the Fura, although first-generation Ibiza production overlapped with the Fura.

    I was in Italy quite a lot in the early ’80s and there was an embarrassment of choice for 127 buyers daunted by the Uno. The Fura was on sale in Italy through the SEAT dealer network. Fiat sold re-badged Brazilian 147s, and there was something called a Rustica which was a ‘ruggedised’ 147 for rural use.

    1. One assumes that ‘Rustica’ has rather more positive connotations in the native tongue.

    2. master class, robertas.

      the usual crush is when you are overtaken by one of these oddities. i know it’s not the rarest of cars, but a red bmw z1 doing easily 170 km/h (soft top up) on a quite empty dual highway made my day long ago. once an alfa sz appeared like virgin mary to me. also, in france, beneath this gothic cathedral somewhere, i caressed an aston martin v8 vantage zagato. i’m fond of zagatos. a lancia hyena i’ve never seen.

      another case of car voyeurism: in some films, in exterior scenes, you can get a taste of the car momentum. one example i love is nanni moretti’s “caro diario”, specially the 1st chapter titled “in vespa”, shot in the streets of rome, summer of 91 or 92. parked along the sideways, lines and lines of the usual italian small car fauna, everything from a cinquecento to a fiat tipo, derelict in half-deserted rome, so nice.

      or this delirious scene from claude lelouch, another one bitten by the bug. not the famous paris rendezvous.. when cars had soul: renault 25 – mercedes 190 – peugeot 505 – saab 900 – audi 100 – lancia thema – bmw 525.

      i’d like to bring up another issue, in case someone picks up the ball: you noticed, on some car ads, time ago, either on paper or tv, there were other cars in the background, filling the gap, and they were lame fakes or mixtures of other cars from other brands, somehow disguised for copyright reasons, but recognizable after all. has anybody tried to compilate these creatures? i always wondered. for the horror museum of cars.

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