Regarding the automotive evolution of Spain, only a few voices would break the consensus on the main role of the SEAT 600. And, despite many other relevant models in the history of our fleet, it is logical to recognize this small utility as the responsible to motorize the new middle classes. Merit that does not give a complete vision of the reality of the country, since Beyond the families that accessed consumption during the rural exodus, there was a large industrial sector next to not a few agricultural areas.
In this sense, the contribution of companies such as Pegaso or Barreiros is undeniable. Which planted the roads of the country with trucks of robust mechanics and affordable prices to meet the growing needs in construction or agriculture. In addition, since the settlement in 1958 of the Santana Motor factory in Linares mobility demands in rural areas received a boost thanks to the Land Rovers Manufactured under British license.
As it was, from there came English-inspired models until well into the eighties. Which were not always a simple replica of the original Land Rovers, appearing national variants on various occasions. One of them was the Santana 1300. Model with practicality as the absolute definition. Therefore widely used by fire brigades and the military for its off-road capability and easy maintenance. So much so that special series were even manufactured for precise uses in institutions such as the Civil Guard. Just the situation for which this 1300 Land Rover Santana 1969 prototype was built.
LAND ROVER SANTANA 1300. THE SPANISH SIMILE OF THE 101 FOWARD CONTROL
When a number is used to name a car, most of the time it has to do with the displacement or a combination of this with the number of cylinders. Nevertheless, In the case of the Santana 1300, this is the result of the number of kilos of cargo it could carry without losing its off-road qualities.. Exactly 1300. Which is undoubtedly an achievement for this industrial vehicle sold both to the public administration and to the general public. A model that was first born in the form of a truck with a cabin to later serve as the basis for multiple types of cabins.
Born in 1967 on the basis of the Land Rover Series IIA with a long chassis, the Santana 1300 was sold for twelve years with customers ranging from the military to fire departments to transport fleets. A massive sale in which Santana offered both diesel and gasoline versions. Both of 2283cc but with 62CV and 81CV respectively. Enough to move this model with ease on dirt tracks and roads. Surface where it offered a better cruising speed than expected for a spartan national off-road of the sixties.
Quality that put the Santana 1300 in the crosshairs of security forces such as the Civil Guard. Which commissioned Santana to develop a cabin prototype with two rows of longitudinal seats apart from the two for the driver and passenger. A van-like vehicle to transport eight to ten officers - although in reality they can fit several more - to places that require rapid intervention. For it, Santana joined parts of two cabs of a model 109 on the basis of a 1300 to create this project where the engine goes next to the driver's seat and above the front axle.
A MALOGRATED BUT NOT WASTE PROTOTYPE
When in 1969 the prototype of the Santana 1300 van was presented to the Civil Guard, its biggest problem became evident: habitability. And is that the booth was so low that a 180-centimeter-tall agent hit the ceiling with his head still cautiously seated. Fact that a priori did not convince those responsible for the Civil Guard. Which did seem more satisfied when Santana managed to lower the ground clearance by about eight inches towards the chassis. Thus, the Benemérita finally ordered a series of Land Rover Santana 1300 cabins from the Linares factory.
Many of them used for tasks such as retransmission of radio signals. Mission that the prototype unit of the Santana 1300 never fulfilled, since after serving as a test car for the development of the model was finally left out of the sale made to the Civil Guard. In fact, it was never painted in the colors of this state security body. Receiving them late during your restoration process. From this point on, the prototype unit lived through a wandering and uncertain time that ended with its deposit in Noah's Ark.
One of the main scrap yards of classics in Spain. Located in the province of Toledo and where the Land Rover enthusiast Tomeu Darder recovered it in its original condition. In fact so original and spartan that after a set-up it had to include some changes to improve its handling on long trips at various concentrations. Under this premise, the first thing he did was install an overdrive and power steering adaptable to any model. Which was necessary since it was impossible to turn the wheels without the vehicle in motion. Behavior and ease of use also improved with new two-blade elliptical crossbows instead of the very tough original crossbows.
In addition, a heating system and an as practical as necessary anti-fog was installed. Always with pieces of the time and others made by hand in imitation of those such as the glove compartment lid. All this with the wrapping of its iron bodywork. Another feature that betrays this unit as a prototype, since the series ones were finally made of aluminum. Details that make this Land Rover 1300 a really interesting piece in Santana's career, as well as an interesting example of a prototype in use.
Photographs: Tomeu Dardes / Club Històrics / Catawiki / Land Rover
P.D. From La Escudería we want to thank the kindness of the Històrics Club and Tomeu Darder for the realization of this article.