• 21-MAR-2018

Experience the SEAT approach to classic car restoration

600 verde lateral
SEAT at the 30th edition of Techno Classica in Essen

  • SEAT's appearance at this year's Techno Classica is all about restoration
  • The Spanish brand is showcasing models in different 'states of aggregation'
  • Restoration experts have returned the SEAT 600 to its original condition
  • Rare barn finds as eye-catchers and authentic historical witnesses
Essen, Germany, 21/03/2018 - SEAT will be prominently represented at 30th edition of Techno Classica in Essen, which will take place from March 21st to 25th. The Spanish car maker will not only be showing rare models from its brand history at this year's jubilee edition of the world's largest show for classic cars; it will also be dedicating its stand in Hall 7 to the restoration of cars.

As an example, the brand will provide authentic insights into the highly devoted work of the SEAT Coches Históricos restoration team, who have set themselves the goal of returning their own historical automotive icons to pristine condition in time-consuming manual work in Barcelona, the brand’s home city. Taking a SEAT 600 in two very different states of aggregation, the factory restoration team will demonstrate what they can accomplish.

Craftsmanship and passion

The ultimate proof of the craftsmanship and passion for detail shown daily by the SEAT restoration team, in the Zona Franca industrial zone in the Spanish metropolis, is an early and fully restored specimen of the SEAT 600, which is certain to be one of the automotive stars on the SEAT stand in Essen. Two other historical models will flank it, both based on this popular vehicle type, but in a very different condition.

The three models to be exhibited are:

  • SEAT 600 N – a car that embodies real enthusiasm for the brand’s history
  • SEAT 600 Comercial - a rare and genuine barn find
  • SEAT 600 Formichetta – the little SEAT, a very rare box-type van

The SEAT 600 N awakens real enthusiasm for the long history of SEAT

This specimen in green of an early SEAT 600 from 1957 demonstrates the great passion and dedication the car manufacturer from Martorell has for its long history and automotive tradition. This model was restored in 2017 by the SEAT Coches Históricos team in the Zona Franca industrial zone in Barcelona on the 60th anniversary of this small iconic car.

No expense or effort spared

The elaborate all-round restoration of this model, which was popularly and affectionately known as the 'little ball' or ‘little SEAT’, and which made a decisive contribution to Spain's sweeping departure into the automotive era that started in the late 1950s, took a whole year to complete. No expense or effort has been spared in restoring the car to its original condition so that it can be exhibited at the show in Essen.

It is probably the best-preserved specimen of a SEAT 600 the Spanish car manufacturer has in its own vintage collection, together with a specimen from the second to last production series, a 600 L from 1973, still in mint condition.

The version being shown at Techno Classica was originally called the 'SEAT 600' when it first came out, without a letter after its name. Now, however, the model in question is referred to as the '600 N' (for 'Normal') to better distinguish it from the other models of the range. It is undoubtedly the rarest and most interesting of all series-produced 600s.

Indicators and reverse opening doors as a badge of recognition

In a certain sense, this lies in the nature of things: in total, some 800,000 SEAT 600s were produced until 1973. Of the original version which left the production line between 1957 and 1963, until the introduction of the SEAT 600 D, only 132,462 were built. A special characteristic of the bodywork on the SEAT 600 N stands out at first glance and distinguishes the earlier model clearly from the later D, E and L versions, and that is the indicators on the front bumpers, which are mounted on the side of the 600 D together with the chrome trim and not at the front.

The 600 N also has what are referred to as 'suicide doors', which have hinges at the back and not at the front. This feature was retained in the successor 600 D model from 1963, whereas the doors on the later E and L models from the 1970s opened the 'right way around'.

The 'Normal' 600 was also unique in that it was powered by a simple, but almost indestructible, 18 PS, 633 cm3 rear engine, which was good for a top speed of 95 km/h. All successor versions were driven by 767 cm3 engines, which provided a larger displacement and more power.

SEAT 600 Comercial – a rare barn find

The second vehicle SEAT is exhibiting at Techno Classica is a barn find in the form of a rare 600 Comercial in the commercial vehicle variant. The vehicle being exhibited is interesting for different reasons: it authentically demonstrates the extremely bad condition some classic cars are in today after being abandoned for many years in some forgotten corner of a warehouse or garage with no regard for the onset of decay. Fortunately, several specimens of the SEAT 600, which can quite correctly be described a barn finds, have been discovered in fortunate circumstances in recent years and lovingly restored.

Rare model with the qualities of a commercial vehicle

The 600 Comercial is a very rare model, because only about 18,000 were ever made. The body remained unchanged in the commercial vehicle version, but the back seats were removed inside to create more space for loads.

Metal plates painted in the colour of the rest of the body replaced the rear side windows. This vehicle did not have chrome strips at the sides either. The 'Comercial' model was cheaper than the standard 600 version, partially because there were no luxury taxes levied on it. And, because it was also lighter than the contemporary passenger model, while having the same 767 cm3, 25 PS engine as the SEAT 600 D car version, it was even quicker, at least when empty.

Previously unrecognised, today irreplaceable

Until now, only very few specimens of this particular model have been preserved because it was exposed to much heavier use as a commercial vehicle than a family car. Most vehicles were scrapped at the end of their useful life because the owners and collectors at the time did not consider them worth preserving as classics.

This means that this barn find being exhibited in Essen can now be regarded as quite an asset, both in money terms and sentimental value. For this reason, it will soon be given over into the hands of the SEAT Coches Históricos restoration team as another exciting project.

SEAT 600 Formichetta - the little SEAT box van

The Formichetta delivery van (Spanish for 'little ant') is one of the newest additions to the SEAT classic car collection. It has been completely restored by SEAT Coches Históricos and painted in the original colour of the official SEAT breakdown service from the 1960s, with a wide deep red band along the sides and white lettering indicating its special purpose. It is also based on the SEAT 600 D.

Once a workhorse, now the star of the show

Overall, the Formichetta box-type delivery van is more consistent in its configuration as a commercial vehicle than the 600 Comercial. The front of the standard version was retained while the rear was completely changed. This gave it a large box-type shape, higher roof and longer wheelbase to optimise the load space.

As strong as a bear, as small as an ant

It was also a half metre longer than the standard 3.22 metre version of the SEAT 600 D. It also had two large back doors that came in the same 'wrong way around' design as the front doors. There was also a fifth door at the back, which was split in two: The 1.61 m3 load space could be accessed through the top section, while the engine could be accessed through the bottom. The vehicle could carry loads up to 250 kg, plus driver and passenger.

The vehicle was manufactured in cooperation with the car manufacturer Siata in Tarragona. Siata collaborated with the SEAT factory in producing small quantities of special designs or variants based on other models.

Only 7,500 made

In total, only around 7,500 examples of the SEAT 600 Formichetta were made, with nearly 10,000 examples of other vehicles of this type being built, with these being based on the  600 E that followed later however. As with the SEAT 600 Comercial, these models are very rare and very valuable due to the low production figures and few specimens still preserved.

Data on the exhibits:

SEAT 600 (1957)

Engine
Petrol, inline 4-cylinder
Bore/Stroke: 60.0 mm x 56.0 mm
Displacement: 633 cm3
Performance: 18 PS
Top speed: 95 km/h
Average consumption: 6.0 l/100 km
Fuel induction: carburettor
Cooling: water cooled

Transmission
4-gear manual

POWER TRANSMISSION
Rear-wheel drive

CHASSIS
Front: Independent suspension, with transverse leaf spring and shock absorbers
Rear: Independent suspension, with trapezoidal link, spring and shock absorbers

WHEELS
5.20-12

BRAKES
Front: drum brakes
Rear: drum brakes

DIMENSIONS
Length/Width/Height: 3,290 mm/1,380 mm/1,400 mm
Weight: 585 kg

SEAT 600 Comercial (1964)

Engine
Petrol, inline 4-cylinder
Bore/Stroke: 62.0 mm x 63.5 mm
Displacement: 767 cm3
Performance: Max. of 25 PS at 4,600 min-1
Top speed: 95 km/h
Average consumption: 6.0 l/100 km
Fuel induction: carburettor
Cooling: water cooled

Transmission
4-gear manual

POWER TRANSMISSION
Rear-wheel drive

CHASSIS
Front: Independent suspension, with transverse leaf spring and shock absorbers
Rear: Independent suspension, with trapezoidal link, spring and shock absorbers

WHEELS
145/80 R12

BRAKES
Front: drum brakes
Rear: drum brakes

DIMENSIONS
Length/Width/Height: 3,215 mm/1,380 mm/1,400 mm
Weight: 585 kg

SEAT 600 Formichetta (1964)

Engine
Petrol, inline 4-cylinder
Bore/Stroke: 62.0 mm x 63.5 mm
Displacement: 767 cm3
Performance: Max of 25 PS at 4,600 min-1
Top speed: 90 km/h
Average consumption: 6.0 l/100 km
Fuel induction: carburettor
Cooling: water cooled

Transmission
4-gear manual

POWER TRANSMISSION
Rear-wheel drive

CHASSIS
Front: Independent suspension, with transverse leaf spring and shock absorbers
Rear: Independent suspension, with trapezoidal link, spring and shock absorbers

WHEELS
145/80 R12

BRAKES
Front: drum brakes
Rear: drum brakes

DIMENSIONS
Length/Width/Height: 3,720 mm/1,520 mm/1,660 mm
Weight: 680 kg