The Seat 1400. The first car from Zona Franca

ER Classics Desktop 2022

In November 1953, the Spanish Seat introduced the 1400. The first model of the Spanish car manufacturer, founded in 1950, was a licensed Fiat 1400. The Seat, like its source of inspiration from Italy, caused quite a stir by then modern technology. It would be produced in four series by Seat, which built the car at the Zona Franca factory in Barcelona. The factory opened in 1953, and on November 13 of that year the first Seat 1400 rolled off the production line.

As said, the Seat 1400 was a direct derivative of the Fiat 1400, which had been in production since 1950. It was the first tangible result of the agreement the Spaniards concluded with Fiat in 1948 to build cars under license. However, the earliest copies of the Seat 1400 came as a package from Italy. Later, the car was assembled from more than 90% of Spanish-made parts in terms of production technology. That was a demand from Franco, who attached great importance to using as many ingredients from Spanish soil as possible. It was the same Franco who also took care of the inauguration of the factory in Barcelona in November 1955.

Benefit from Giacosa's design

However, the Seat 1400 also took advantage of the design work done by Dante Giacosa on behalf of Fiat for the 1400. It was the first Fiat with monocoque, and of course Seat took over. The 1400 had a fairly modern chassis at the time. For example, the Seat received independent front suspension with double transverse suspension arms coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers. The rear suspension consisted of a rigid rear axle with longitudinally mounted semi-elliptical leaf springs and a Panhard rod. Hydraulic shock absorbers provided the damping. There were four drum brakes all around, and the handbrake was mounted on the differential.

Fiat OHV engine

The engine was also a Fiat design. It was a longitudinally placed four-cylinder in-line engine with an underlying camshaft and 1.395 cc, good for 44 hp. That enabled the Seat 1400 to reach a top of 125 kilometers. With these specifications, the first Seat 1400 continued until 1955, when a modified and faster version came on the market. That was the 1400 A, which got 50 HP from the same displacement.

The B: step up

The Seat 1400 was therefore in a fairly luxurious segment, especially for that time. Seat took it a step further with 1400 B. It came in 1956. An important change was the application of a new grille with central fog lamp and more chrome, a choice inspired by the way in which the Americans decorated their cars. Furthermore, the panoramic rear window caught the eye. The installation of white wall tires was also exemplary for this type of construction. Seat also introduced a five-door station wagon (Familiar) and a Fugon (van) based on the 1400 B.

The latter with the original body

The Seat 1958 B Especial was launched in 1400. It still had the 1.395 cc engine, but the power was now 58 HP and the top was 135 kilometers per hour. The car received a tape measure dashboard and a luxurious interior, which was actually based on the Fiat 1900. The B versions were available with a combination of two colors, which were the last series of the 1400 with the original body.

Inspiration para el futuro: 1400 C.

The last Seat 1400 was the C, which resembled the Fiat 1800 designed by Dante Giacosa. The 1400 C was produced from 1960 to 1964, had the same technology as the last B-series. Another Familiar version followed in 1963, and in recent years ONECA built a six-seater limousine, SERRA previously created a two-seater convertible. For example, other special versions based on the 1400 were ambulances. In 1964, the Seat 1500 succeeded the Seat 1400, which was built almost 100.000 times in total.




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  1. What a wonderful subject! In my family (family) we only rode with Fiats, always. When I came to Spain in the late XNUMXs, my father pointed me to the Spanish Fiats, called Seat there. Thus. And when I worked for Nissan, the Zona Franca was the center of European Nissan production until the plant in Sunderland (UK) opened. Memories ...

  2. The Seat 1400 C is outwardly like the Fiat 1800, 2100 and 2300 and the later 1500. These Fiats are not only sold a lot in Italy, but also in our country. I am always surprised that these Fiats are never described in an article, but the Peugeot 404 and the Austin Cambridge / Morris Oxford. These are slightly younger contemporaries of the Fiat 1800 and of the same designer Pinin Farina. The Fiats were luxuriously designed and all but 1500 cylinders. Due to the larger engines of 6 and 2100 cc, these models were more or less competitors of Alfa in Italy.

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