In 1972 FIAT introduced the 127. Grandson of the legendary 600 as the successor to the 850, this utility is one of the brand's greatest successes. In fact, not only was it in production for more than 20 years, but it also saw a multitude of versions focused on various uses. Among them we find some with a mountaineering vocation such as the Rustica from 1979 manufactured at the Lamborghini facilities. But also others with beach environments in their sights as if we were talking about a Mini Moke or a Citroën Mehari. Of course, always under the banner of small bodybuilders capable of doing something really original from the FIAT 127.
In the case of Italy, the most famous was Fissore. An independent workshop that launched two models under the name Scout - one with a semi-rigid roof and the other completely open - with clear reminiscences of beach buggies. An excellent idea that, in the case of Spain, was replicated by the Catalan bodybuilder Emelba. Of course, on the basis of the SEAT 127; produced under license FIAT like its predecessors. An active workshop from 1978 to 1986, which had the SEAT 127 Samba as its first creation.
Given the versatility and ease of use of the SEAT 127, Emelba not only produced this Samba version, but also a perfect pick-up for agricultural use. Because, in fact, The qualities of this small utility vehicle on the roads shone both in the numerous rallies where it competed and in the farms where it was an excellent work tool. However, the unit we are going to focus on today has a cheerful look perfect for leisure. It is precisely the first of the 1.800 of the SEAT 127 Samba. A very special car that has just been restored by the collection SEAT on the road.
EMELBA. A BODYMAN IN THE SHADOW OF SEAT
For SEAT-focused collectors, Emelba is a myth due to its rarity. In fact, their versions are so rare that they are even officially protected cars by the brand. However, its extensive dedication to it means that Emelba has even seemed to some a subsidiary. Nothing could be further from the truth, since This bodybuilder based in the Girona town of Arbucias was independent during his eight years of existence. Time in which he could not solve various economic problems, mainly limited to his debts precisely with SEAT.
A shame, since Emelba's inventiveness on the various platforms offered by SEAT turned out to be most prolific. Proof of this are the twelve versions designed from models such as the 127, the Panda, the Ronda or the Ibiza.
A bulk of creations that stand out along with an approximate ten models with as much charm as the convertibles made from the Opel Corsa, Talbot Samba, Lada Niva, Citroën Visa or Peugeot 205. Furthermore, we must remember that we have all seen some in person. Emelba. Even if it is unconsciously. And is that was responsible for painting the famous SEAT Trans by Telefónica.
An interesting story of which we will talk calmly soon, but that today we begin with the first unit of its first model: the SEAT 127 Samba. A preparation in the image and likeness of the one created by Fissore in Italy as it was manufactured under his license. A bestseller of which, unfortunately, we found that hardly any are preserved in the market after a simple investigation. For this reason, the three-year restoration carried out by the SEAT collection on the road takes on even more importance, which has managed to preserve this curious version of the popular 600 grandson utility vehicle.
THE SEAT 127 SAMBA ON THE RUN. PRESERVING OUR HISTORY
SEAT is a brand that can take advantage of many things, although for us there is one thing that stands out: taking care of its heritage. For this, the company has the SEAT Históricos department and its splendid warehouse 122. A place where they restore and store a collection that illustrates in an encyclopedic way the history of the company responsible for motorizing our country. In addition, their activities give new life to competition classics, creating community among the popular with powerful events such as the Classic and Family festivals.
However, the passion for preserving SEAT's history goes beyond the company itself, with private collections as complete as SEAT on the road. With almost 40 copies and a restoration workshop dedicated to them, in this collection it has managed to get hold of such interesting units as this first SEAT 127 Samba. A car to which they have dedicated a complete three-year restoration, as a result of which we see this careful result. Finished off in Lanzarote yellow, under its hood is the 903cc and 47CV engine. More than enough to drive the only 710 kilos of the set.
Acquired by SEAT in Shooting in 2016 from the hands of Emelba's former partner Juan Carlos Madriñán, its restoration process has encountered more obstacles than expected. That if, fortunately solved while waiting for some finishes and a documentary aspect. Normal difficulties in the recovery of such a specific model, which It not only tells part of the story of a model as popular as the 127 but also that of the bodybuilder Emelba. A vehicle of which less than 10% of the units are preserved, fortunately restored by SEAT on the road.
Photographs: Fissore, Emelba, SEAT in Shooting.