/ Brand’s first vehicle left Barcelona’s Zona Franca on November 13th 1953
/ Production 5 cars per day
/ Production of 1400 discontinued in 1964, after sales of almost 100,000 units
/ Prelude to large-scale industrialisation and car-ownership in Spain, prior to SEAT 600
Martorell, 12/11/2013. – Tomorrow will see the 60th anniversary of SEAT’s first-ever car, the 1400. On November 13th 1953, three years after the company was established, an elegantly luxurious high-end car – based on American car models of the day – rolled off the assembly lines at Barcelona’s Zona Franca. Since the launch of the 1400, SEAT has built more than 16 million vehicles, including such emblematic models as the 600, the 127, the Ibiza and the Leon. The company exports more than 80% of its production and has some 1,800 points of sale worldwide.
The choice of the impressive 1400 sedan as an initial model was not a matter of chance: government officials needed a means of transport, while at the same time it was a very suitable car for use as a taxi. In 1953, when the SEAT 1400 hit the roads, petrol rationing in Spain came to an end.
At an ex-works price of 121,875 pesetas (the equivalent of 41,735 euros today), initial production was 5 cars a day, built by a workforce of 925 employees. These figures would grow exponentially, and were the prelude to large-scale car ownership in Spain.
By the end of 1954, 945 units of the 1400 had been delivered. At the Barcelona Trade Fair in June, SEAT premièred the model and had orders for 10,000 units, enabling the company to bring the ex-works price down to 117,000 pesetas (39,648 euros).
SEAT’s reaction was to increase production. One year later annual production was nearing the 3,000 mark, with practically 100% of components being manufactured domestically. On May 5th 1955 the Zona Franca was officially opened. In 1956 production grew to 7,000 vehicles, with 10,000 being built the following year, at the rate of 42 units per day. After two years, SEAT was employing 5,000 persons.
Production of the 1400 was discontinued in 1964, after selling more than 98,000 units. At the dawn of the new decade, the country was beginning to experience growing economic development, with SEAT playing a leading role in the Spanish automotive industry, a leadership position it still maintains today, thanks to some of the most modern production facilities in Europe and a clear orientation towards design, R&D+i and quality.
SEAT 1400 key figures
– Bodywork: 4 doors (also estate, taxi, 7-seater and closed van)
– Engines: Petrol (44/58 hp)
– Gearbox: 4-speed
– Start of production: 1953
– End of production: 1964
– Units produced: 98,114
The launch of the first-ever SEAT 1400 is just one of a series of anniversaries to be celebrated by the Spanish automotive manufacturer. The 1400’s successor – the also very American-design1500 – was one of the most outstanding executive cars of its time, and a favourite amongst taxi-drivers. Its eventual replacement was the SEAT 132, the epitome of what a luxury car should be during those years. It reached the market in 1973 and was the company’s first model to be equipped with automatic gear-change, plus air conditioning in the final version.
SEAT’s personal stamp was provided by the Ronda, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Ten years later the car manufacturer presented the second generation of the Ibiza, a vehicle that was to continue along the road to success created by the previous model. It was the first vehicle to be produced at Martorell, which is also celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Ten years ago the second generation of the Cordoba also came into being.