- SEAT recovers and restores 18th birthday gift from former King Juan Carlos I
- Company shows King his first car on occasion of recent visit to Martorell plant
Felipe VI visited most of the SEAT facilities in Martorell, he got close up to the assembly lines and was given an insight into some of the car company’s best-kept secrets – its future models. But the biggest smile on the face of Felipe VI during his entire visit came from a very pleasant surprise. The King once more came face-to-face with his first-ever car – a 1.5 litre metallic gold Ibiza which his father, then the King Juan Carlos, gave him for his 18th birthday in 1986.
The King let out an emotional laugh on seeing the car. “I imagine he recalled his first car, his student days, his 18 years…”, says Isidre López, head of Classic Cars at SEAT, and whose team have carried out the painstaking work of restoring it, with 152,000 kilometres on the clock and not having been started up for more than 16 years.
When it was built, the car was very much ahead of its time, being equipped with an injection engine and air conditioning, two full years before these items were introduced on series production cars. For the technical team in charge of the process of restoration, the most difficult part was getting the fuel feed and injection system up and running, since the car had not been on the road for many years. Other work was also done on the integrated paintwork, upholstery, tyres and wheels, thus giving the car “an outstanding personality”. In fact, “it is a unique, special, custom-built Ibiza”, adds López. One example of this is that the seats are tailored to the height of Felipe VI.
“The effort put in was well worth it”, says López and his team. During the visit, the King was given a cherished reminder of his youth. For its part, SEAT has added another jewel to its collection of more than 250 classic cars.