TEXT AND PHOTOS: NACHO SÁENZ DE CAMARA
After the cessation of manufacturing for Seat of the bodies of the Seat 850 Four Doors, the Inducar cooperative had to make use of inventiveness to ensure its future. Thus, in its Terrassa workshops the project for the bodywork of a Seat 127 Sport was born, directed by the engineer Antoni Amat. It was the beginning of what is today a great Classic sports seat.
A SEAT 127 PERFORMANCE
Once the creation of said project by Inducar was accepted by Seat, during Antoni Amat's visit to the Turin Motor Show in 1970, there was a studio at the Glasurit Paints stand that impressed him. It was the Nergal, the work of Aldo Sessano.
This amazing coupe was built on the platform of an NSU Prinz. And Mr. Amat immediately set about contacting Aldo Sessano, with whom he reached an agreement to be in charge of the design of the Seat 1200 Sport, one of the most Classic seats most valued today.
From the agreement between Inducar and Aldo Sessano, between the Terrassa workshops and the Turin designer's studio there was a constant intercommunication in the creation of the model. While Antonio Amat and his team of professionals took care of the technical section of the Seat 1200 Sport, in the transalpine country they outlined the new style of the body and the interior.
It was also necessary to turn to Ddauto, a Madrid company specializing in preparations. The pilot and engineer Eduardo Villacieros worked at said firm, and he directed the project to transform the engine of the Seat 124 into a transverse position. Sports seat the 70's was taking shape.
PRESENTATION OF THE NEW SPORTS SEAT
After completing the first 1972: 1 scale plaster model in 1, in 1973 the project of Sports seat. Then it was time to carry out the aerodynamic tests in the INTA wind tunnel, where it obtained a fine Cx coefficient of 0,37. Subsequently, groups other than Inducar devoted themselves to developing the sheet metal projects and auxiliary components. And also to define the materials of the cabin, the working methods and the way of carrying out the production.
In 1975, Inducar was prepared to manufacture the bodies, which were sent by truck to the Seat factory in the Zona Franca. There they proceeded to paint them and assemble the engine and other elements, until they became a car destined to become a Classic Seat, con uppercase.
In December 1975, the presentation to the press took place in Malaga and included in the tour the capital of Granada and Sierra Nevada, the latter especially successful for a Sports seat. What is striking is that Seat claimed the paternity of the 1200 Sport, without mentioning either Inducar or Antoni Amat.
The first units of Bocanegra, the nickname it received for its characteristic front end, they began to be registered in February 1976. The car was equipped with the 1.197 cc engine used in the Seat 124, which in this version increased power to 67 hp by incorporating a thermostatic electric fan.
DEFECTILLOS OF YOUTH
In the first tests published by the specialized press, the failures of the Bressel 32 carburettor, double body and simultaneous opening, which hesitated at low speeds, were mentioned. East Old sports seat it was not perfect in this sense. Their high price in relation to the somewhat scarce equipment was also criticized. Likewise, the limited autonomy allowed by the 30-liter fuel tank and the improper placement of the spare wheel, located in the trunk.
Instead, there were praiseworthy points in this Classic seat, starting with the style and solidity of the body, as well as the ideal habitability for four people to travel with ample space. And there were more sections to be commended. One of them was the behavior on the road, since the speed and precision of the steering went together with excellent cornering stability and a nobility of reactions that made fast driving possible.
Similarly, aerodynamics worked in his favor of the Classic seat sporty, since at sea level it reached 160 km / h of maximum speed. As if that were not enough, its weight of 792 kg when empty allowed it to accelerate to the kilometer in 35,2 seconds, a brilliant chrono for its 67 HP.
AN INTRUDER ARRIVES, ANOTHER CLASSIC SEAT
Surprisingly, in December 1976 Seat presented the Seat 128 3P to the press in Tenerife. A strange strategy, as it was a direct competitor to the Seat 1200 Sport. However, the arrival of the Seat 128 -another Classic seat par excellence - it was due to a Fiat decision. In exchange for the successful export to Italy of the four-door Seat 127, it offered the 128 3P coupés in return.
For sale in versions 1200 and 1430, the presence of these two models also meant the possibility of having interesting components available to Seat. Among them, the 1430 transversal engine and the gearbox used by the Fiat 128.
On the rebound, Inducar was affected by the news. Although deep down it had something positive, such as the possibility of using the 1.437 cc engine in the Seat Sport and a gearbox designed for greater power than that from the Seat 127. The Sports seat that concerns us became even more sporty.
THE SEAT SPORT 1430
Obviously, the competition from the Seat 128 reduced the possible sales of the Seat 1200 Sport. And in the case of Inducar, the production of the bodies, which was its source of income. On the other hand, Seat took advantage of elements from Fiat 128 and in 1977 introduced changes to the Seat Sport. In addition to introducing the Sport 1430 version in September, the range benefited from the Weber 32 DMTR carburettor, which did not jerk.
The adoption of the clutch, the bearings and the gearbox of the Fiat 128 was also positive in this Sports seat from the 70s. Compared to the Seat 127, they were more suited to the power of the Seat Sport. Likewise, three small improvements were incorporated into the driving position. The windshield washer was activated by an electric pump, there was a warning switch and the heating fan started to incorporate a two-speed control.
This unit of one of the Classic seats par excellence, manufactured in 1978, it was destined to be exported to Germany. The color of its original paint is dark blue F-456, a shade only available in the copies that left for Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Greece and Switzerland.
Instead, in the end it was bought with a considerable delay by a Seat employee, who registered it in May 1980. Its current owner is the Asturian Luis Ángel González López, a great enthusiast of the Seat 1200/1430 Sport. Such is his fervor for these Spanish coupés that Luis Ángel wrote and published the book Los Seat 1200/1430 Sport and 128, from the collection "Our Cars", published by Dossat 2000.
The mileage of this Old sports seat at the time of the photographic report it was just over 52.500 km. It is a preserved car, which only needed a paint job and a deep cleaning.
INSIDE A LOOK
When opening the driver's door, there is a detail that changes with respect to units sold in Spain. It is the opening knob, rotated 180 degrees and opens in the opposite direction. When activated, it is then that the seats with integrated head restraints and the clutch and brake hanging pedals are visible. And the dashboard by Aldo Sessano is striking, whose shapes and gray tones are attractive and enhance the personality of this Classic seat.
The five spheres that make up the instrumentation include a speedometer graduated up to 180 km / h, a lap counter with a red zone from 6.200 rpm. And further towards the center is a clock, a coolant thermometer, and an oil pressure gauge. We also discovered an unparalleled witness in the Spanish range. Indicates that the parking brake is on and goes between the steering column and the hazard light switch.
WE UP THE HOOD
As a preliminary step to shooting with this Sports seat from the 70s, we raise the hood by actuating the control located below, on the left side. Once the bar that holds it in place, we contemplate a fairly crammed engine compartment. In front of the two McPherson columns you can see the engine, tilted 17 degrees forward, and a solid connecting rod that is responsible for reducing torque reactions.
We also see the brake booster, which did not exist in the Seat 1200 Sport, and the windshield washer bag, accompanied by the electric pump that makes fluid flow with more pressure and intensity.
Back in the driving position of our Classic seat Once the adjustments have been made, you can see that the sidewalk is somewhat short, as if it were designed for people of 1,55 meters. Likewise, the not very anatomical shape of the upper area of the backrest is quite annoying. For its part, the position at the wheel is low and you have to get used to stepping on too high brake and clutch pedals, which are also shifted to the right.
One turn of the ignition key and the tachometer needle is slightly under one thousand revolutions. It is because the engine was already warm and it was not necessary to start it cold. From the first meters on the road, the compact size of the body is appreciated. Also the quick reaction of the steering and the feel of the steering wheel made of polyurethane, whose 36 cm diameter facilitates lively handling in urban use. The Old sports seat he moves fluently in this area.
Still in low gears, just press the accelerator energetically to see an extraordinary verve. Thanks to the 800 kg of empty weight and an engine that turns without hesitation, the Seat 1430 Sport can stand out in traffic.
In this task, it brilliantly accompanies a front end that provides the necessary motor skills, coupled with a frame that provides agile behavior. And as for the brakes, they are sufficient, modulable and resistant to heating.
CURVES AND MORE CURVES
If in urban use the vivacity of this Sports seat from the 70s, On the open road, the force with which you accelerate in low gears comes to the fore. Even in fourth gear, it admits to go all the way from 60 km / h with a magnificent response from 3.000 laps.
And due to the steering pulling fast, of 3,4 turns of the steering wheel between stop and stop, its maneuverability encourages use in cornering areas. In that environment, driving it is a pleasure. All this thanks to the wheelbase of only 2,225 meters, the fairly low center of gravity, the 165/70 tires and the wide track on both axles.
AND THE FIFTH?
The question changes when we take a highway, the ideal place to benefit from the good aerodynamics that characterize this model. At 120 km / h in fourth gear, the engine turns at 4.500 rpm. At this speed, the response to the gas pedal of the Classic seat it is immediate and even the sound inside the cabin is not exaggerated. On the other hand, the mechanics are heard too much when the 4.800 laps are exceeded and it would be a delight to engage an absent fifth.
In any case, the Seat 1430 Sport reaches a top speed of 165 km / h, a worthy figure for its displacement and power. And in fourth, it accepts a cruising gear of around 5.500 laps, which translates into a speed of 145 km / h.
A BITTER ENDING
When the difficulties had finally been overcome and both the Seat Sport and the Seat 128 coexisted in the market, in September 1979 both models were discontinued. From today's perspective, precious time was lost in the development of the Seat Sport. And the delay in its appearance diminished the impression of novelty and decreased the volume of sales.
If instead of appearing at the end of 1975 it had done so in 1972, those three years in advance would have been very profitable, even to contribute to Seat's international expansion. But the reality was different. That highly suggestive and clearly Spanish project had to fight against too many adversities, but at least it managed to overcome them and made the existence of these coupes possible, both as we have said. Classic seats With all the letters.
Located 44 years after its release on the market, it is clear that the existing copies must be preserved as best as possible. In fact, it is estimated that only a few hundred of the 19.341 copies made today survive. The creation in 1994 of the Seat 1200/1430 Sport and 128 Club of Spain plays to their benefit. Thanks to this club, not only the destruction of usable units has been avoided, but it also serves to maintain contact between the owners.
In addition to the annual gatherings, which promote friendship, the club has favored its preservation. In this sense, the exchange of information and spare parts has become a fundamental asset for their maintenance. And in truth, a good part of the copies of these sports Seat display the original colors on their bodies. No quirky trimmings or timeless makeshift arrangements, which tarnish their aesthetic appeal and make it difficult to remain as collector cars.
SEAT 128: RIVAL IN THE FAMILY
Although the appearance of the Fiat 128 range dates back to 1969, at first its manufacture by Seat was not considered appropriate. The reason lay in the heavy investment that had to be made in the Barcelona factory, necessary to build that car. With front-wheel drive and transverse engine, it also won the Car of the Year award in Europe for 1970.
However, at Seat they were initially satisfied with the Seat 124 and the Seat 850 four-door. Between the two three-volume models, they easily led that segment. In the middle of the decade, the market sector formed by three-door, front-wheel drive cars grew. In this context, it was interesting to have in the range the Fiat 128 3P, renewed in 1975 and which could house the 1.197 and 1.438 cc engines.
Presented to the press in December 1976, the following month began its commercialization in two versions. Immediately, the sale of the Seat 128 3P surpassed those of the Seat Sport. In addition to having a lower price of around 20.000 pesetas, its body was more spacious and more functional. It had a tailgate, which in specific cases allowed the rear seat to be folded down and increased load capacity.
They were promoted in advertising with the slogan “Triple personality”. This motto alluded to its versatility as a sports car that accepts the family and becomes a break, a triplet of uses that were banned for Seat Sports.
Thus the things, already in 1977 the sales of the Seat 128 3P were clearly superior to those of the Seat Sport. The 18.207 Seat 128 3P units produced far exceeded the 4.066 Seat Sport built that year. And until its cessation of production there were 31.897 Seat 128 3Ps manufactured in Barcelona, well above the 19.341 Seat Sport produced since 1975. In other words, the multipurpose Seat ended up winning the game. to the sporty Seat.
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