SEAT Marbella

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SEAT Marbella
SEAT Marbella   1986 1998
1986 1998

That’s what was left for the Spanish carmaker SEAT after its divorce from Fiat, and things were not looking good.
But the Spaniards were not ready to throw the towel.

SEAT was born on a dictator initiative and ended up in a partnership with Fiat. That was a good idea of how to put a country without an automotive industry on wheels. Over time, the Spanish carmaker learned enough and knew how to keep a car on the assembly line: add another facelift. In 1986, after its split from Fiat, SEAT had to change Panda’s model name, and it chose Marbella, a famous Spanish resort.

There was no way to hide the shape of a Fiat Panda. Its boxy-look with flat panels and straight lines across the bodywork was obvious. But the Spanish carmaker found a way and changed the headlights. They were larger, with corner-mounted turn-signals, and that made the front’s car looks different than Panda’s front fascia. Moreover, the slatted, plastic grille was completely different. In the back, it installed corner-mounted, tiny taillights on the sides of the tailgate. It was another cost-cutting measure that worked well. Its black, plastic, wrapped-around bumpers were visually connected via a set of plastic molds glued on the doors and rear quarter panels.

Inside, the boxy exterior allowed the carmaker to create a spacious interior for its class. The dashboard was a curved shape with storage areas without doors or a locked glove compartment. There was no center stack nor a place to install a radio.

Under the hood, SEAT used the same 0.9-liter inline-four used for the base Fiat Panda version, paired to a four-speed manual.

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