Art and the Automobile: Conmemorando el SEAT 600

James Kraus

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Monumento al SEAT 600, 2008

While many nations have seemingly all but forgotten specific examples of their automotive heritage, Spain is a notable exception.

Spain’s SEAT 600; a licensed duplicate of the celebrated Fiat 600, was the second automobile to be manufactured by Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo. 

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Barcelona, 23 July 1962, the 100,000th 600 leaves the production line

Introduced in 1957, it rapidly became the most popular car in Spain, generating a waiting list of buyers that sometimes reached two years in length. The 600 put Spaniards on wheels, performing a societal role equivalent to America’s Model T, Germany’s Volkswagen and France’s Citroën 2CV. It would continue in production through 1973.

While later SEATs were technically superior, none have proved a match for the 600 in personality and character, and the Spanish have not forgotten. Their affection can be appreciated by observing the various artistic tributes to the 600 sprinkled throughout the country.

The unveiling of Monumento al SEAT 600, prior to placement on its pedestal. This was the appearance of the original bronze finish prior to developing its green oxidized patina.

The first major installation was Monumento al SEAT 600 in Fuengirola, Malaga. In June of 2008, a full-size fibreglass-reinforced resin replica covered in bronze was erected in a beachside plaza. The unveiling was proceeded by a procession of over two-hundred 600s from local vintage SEAT clubs with their occupants dressed in period clothing, some piloted by their original owners.

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Homenaje al 600, 2010

In April of 2010, another life-size tribute to the iconic SEAT was erected at a roundabout in Churriana de la Vega, Granada.

600 D on formed concrete ramp

In this example the SEATs are genuine vintage 600s donated by collector Manuel Fernandez Esturillo. The red example is a 600 E, the blue one an earlier 600 D featuring the original rear-hinged “suicide” doors.

Under construction: placement of the 600 E

Other SEAT tributes abound; in the capitol of Madrid one can spot a vintage 600 above the entrance to a popular pub, Bar 600.

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4 thoughts on “Art and the Automobile: Conmemorando el SEAT 600

  1. Spanish writer Manuel Vazquez Montalban, a keen observer of Spain’s reinvention, wrote that “The day Spaniards got into their 600s, they began to leave their past behind them, embarking on a weekend trip from which they have not yet returned.”
    (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/motoring/features/seat-600-5529438.html )

    And also, for my Spanish-speaking counterparts: http://elpais.com/diario/2007/06/03/economia/1180821602_850215.html

  2. Pingback: Four-Links – drag racing in Brazil, holy grail of Ho | Hemmings Daily

  3. The cover photo at Hemmings Daily with the link to this page shows the Monumento al 600, but the cars are clearly Fiat 500s!!!! Your photos however show 600s, which must have replaced the 500s. Somebody’s head must have rolled for this!

    Anyone know the story behind this?

    • Most observant! Unfortunately, it seems the image you mention does in fact feature a pair of Fiat 500s.

      I called on Lew Wickersham, an old acquaintance and former CEO of the world-renowned Intertect Agency, to investigate the origin of this suspect photograph. It appears that the image in question is of a virtual nature, created through the magic of digital photo manipulation. Lew pointed to the following clues:

      Different lamp fixture in centre
      Curbing replaced by spherical bollards
      Unusually uniform and lividly-coloured grass
      Man and light poles at the left casting no shadows, yet the bollards and car-ramp are throwing shadows to the right

      Finally; all metadata as to location, camera type, etc. of the original image capture have gone missing. Lew believes that the manipulated image was possibly created by members of a Fiat 500 club gone rogue.

      As an aside, if you happen to be driving through Churriana de la Vega, the real Homenaje al 600 can be seen at 2 Av. Cristóbal Colón. You can observe the location on Google Street View, but they haven’t uploaded new images since 2008, prior to the installation of the Homenaje.

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