Espíritu Independiente (Part One)

A retrospective on Spain’s automotive flag-carrier and the rare occasional flowering of its independent design talent.

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In the late 1940’s Spain was an economic wasteland. The bloody 1936 to 1939 Spanish Civil War, immediately followed by the privations of World War II, had left the country impoverished and largely without an industrial base. The government of General Franco was desperate to improve the welfare of its people and reduce their reliance on subsistence level agriculture and fishing.

One key element of this plan would be the development of an indigenous automobile industry. European manufacturers, still rebuilding their post-war domestic capacity and markets, were largely uninterested in expansion into Spain, but the government realised it had neither the capital nor the technical expertise to build the industry from scratch. Instead, it courted both Fiat and Volkswagen, offering shares in a new auto company and royalty payments in return for permission, not just to assemble but to Continue reading “Espíritu Independiente (Part One)”

Driven to Write’s Top 50 Best Cars Ever: Number 8

A touch of Porsche magic gives the unique 1982 Seat Ronda its special allure.

Let's make sure everyone knows it's Spanish: onlytruecars.com
Let’s make sure everyone knows it´s Spanish: onlytruecars.com

Only die-hard Porsche fans and Seat connoisseurs know the secret of the Ronda’s appeal after all these years. For most people the Ronda is merely an attractive front-wheel drive car. For anyone conversant with the magic of Zuffenhausen, the Ronda is almost a Porsche in disguise, invisible to thieves and the law alike. What precisely was the Ronda? The Ronda had an efficient five door body, front wheel drive, rorty petrol motor and all-round disc and drum brakes.  There is more to it than that though.

The Seat Ronda had other significance in addition to its clever engineering and distinctively Spanish styling. More than any other Seat until its inception it epitomised Spanish manufacturing capability and the country’s strong wish to Continue reading “Driven to Write’s Top 50 Best Cars Ever: Number 8”