TEXT: JAVIER ROMAGOSA / PHOTOS: ENGINE MANAGE
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The Santana is a rare beast in itself. The company was founded in 1954 in Jaen, Andalucia, to produce agricultural equipment. Talks with Land-Rover UK began in 1956 to license Santana to produce Land-Rovers for the Spanish market. From 1958 to 1982, Santanas were hand-built from CKD kits suppllied from UK, so were identical to the UK 88 ″ and 109 ″ models.
The agreement with Land-Rover finished in 1983, Santana continuing to produce his own variations on the theme. In 1983 the company also signed an agreement with Suzuki to build Jimmy and Vitara. Suzuki terminated the agreement in 2009, but kept the dealership network, making it very difficult for Santana to survive and the company was wound down in 2011.
Forward Control (FC) Santana Land-Rover
One of the earliest Santana variations from Solihull was in Forward Control (FC) vehicles. Land-Rover´s own FC concept debuted in 1962, based on a Series IIa 109 ″ chassis. Santana´s counterpart, the S1300 (1300kg payload) did not appear until '67, looking similar to the British FC but being a simpler specification which based more on the standard 109 models. The S1300 was available throughout the 70s, replaced by the larger S2000 (2000kg payload) in '79.
The S2000 was designed 100% in Spain, and is a model unique to Spain. Weighing up to 5 tons, 16 ft long, over 7ft tall and 6.5ft wide, the S2000 was envisaged to compete with the Unimog. S2000 was cataloged with different body options: dump truck, tow truck, tanker, snowplough, with the aim being cross-country performance rather than highway speed.
To this end, Santana developed its own 6 cylinder diesel, basically the Land-Rover 4 pot with an extra 2 cylinders. This gave 94 bhp from 3429cc, with a strong 309 Nm (230 fl / lbs) of torque at 1800 rpm. With a ground clearance of over 11 ″, minimal overhangs and the Land Rover transmission / 2 speed transfer box, the S2000 has brilliant off road performance.
This example of Land Rover Santana 2000
This example is bodied as a 4 crew fire truck by leading Spanish coachworks, FIMESA, whose catalog number for this double cab firetruck was A 128. It is owned by the volunteer firemen of Bocairent, Valencia, Spain (Asociación Mariola Verda) and has been their main weapon against forest fires in the beautiful Sierra Mariola. A new vehicle (URO F2) has been presented to the group, and they are now selling their classic truck to raise funds. This sale is on behalf of the association and all monies will go to fund their fire-fighting.
The S2000 was sent new to the city of Valencia, coming into the hands of the Bocairent volunteers in 2002. It needed some re-commissioning, done by the brigade's designated driver (and classic car restoration professional) Marcos Blasco. Marcos fitted a bigger 1100 liter water tank and a Honda generator has been fitted to improve pumping capacity. It has under 25.000kms on the clock.
The Sierra Mariola is a large designated area of outstanding natural beauty on the borders of the provinces of Alicante and Valencia. Sierra Mariola can only be accessed by tracks and summer temperatures of up to 44C / 110F mean that fires start quickly and spread rapidly. It is dangerous for the fireman (2 volunteers from another local brigade lost their lives 3 years ago) who have put their trust in the S2000´s ability to cross difficult terrain and Marcos´ skills at the wheel. He says «You have to go steady, stay calm and respect the limits of the truck and terrain. But in crawler, with the reducer on, this thing will get anywhere ».
The Santana 2000 still acts as back up for the brigade, so is offered fully functioning and ready for action ...
* Article based in Francisco Carrión original spanish version