With almost 800.000 units sold and sixteen years in production, the SEAT 600 is the undisputed icon when it comes to family motorization in Spain. A car designed by Dante Giacosa for the new middle classes. Which advanced firmly within the framework of developmentalism and access to the consumer society. A context where growth was as fast as the rural exodus that fed the cities, giving the feeling that times ran faster than ever. In fact, even the most modern were soon falling into the past.
Just what happened to the 600. Which nine years after its launch in 1957 was complemented by the SEAT 850. A utility also manufactured under a FIAT license, combining its accessible price with a habitability greater than that of its predecessor. Model with which he lived for almost all his commercial life, finished in 1974 just a few months after the 600's. One more proof of the speed of that time. Overlapping old and new in a kind of race that should end the popularization of C-segment passenger cars with the 124 to the head.
Situation in which the SEAT 850 represents the leap of more than a few families to larger vehicles than the original 600. Something that is complemented by the sports versions of the model. Which tell us about a country where market niches for leisure vehicles or simply more performance vehicles make their appearance. Undoubted proof of economic development. At least as far as the young pros of the wealthy class are concerned. Precisely the type of buyer the 850 SEAT 1970 Sport Coupé was targeting.
SEAT 850 SPORT. A NEW MARKET NICHE
Typically, many sports trainers have used popular models as the basis for their creations. In this sense, possibly the most successful case is that of Carlo Abarth with his interventions on the FIAT 500 and 600. Both Italian vehicles with simple finishes that, however, gave way to models with a greater gradient of variants. One of them was the 850. A model that was adjusted by offering four-door bodywork and more space in the rear seats to the demands of a more solvent and diversified market
Situation that also occurred in Spain after the Stabilization Plans. With its borders open to foreign investment to create the vertiginous growth of the service sector in urban areas. A perfect breeding ground for new market niches in which SEAT wanted to intervene with the sports variants of the 850. And it is that the same business growth encouraged the appearance of wealthy young people eager for a service vehicle with more leisure vocation in singleness than in family.
Thus, in Spain there was an intermediate commercial demand between the powerful luxury models and the popular 600. In addition, it required a sporty touch since it longed for a recreational vehicle adjusted for the stage prior to a hypothetical fatherhood. For all this SEAT decided to manufacture the sports variant of the FIAT 850, which would be called 850 Sport from its presentation in 1967. Just a few months after the departure of the base model, which had a totally different body even having the same scheme of "All behind". Good base for a sports car with the engine, gearbox and rear axle drive.
ONE OF THE LAST TO ARRIVE AT SEAT CLASSICS IN SHOOTING
Although the 850 Sport's engine is based on the same 843cc inline-four as the rest of the range, its higher compression ratio and improved camshaft bring power up to 47hp. About ten more than those provided by the saloon. And that, although they may seem few, are enough to deliver strong sensations at the wheel of a rear-wheel drive vehicle and only about 700 kilos of weight. Nevertheless, In 1970 SEAT presented a new improved version which was christened the 850 Sport Coupé.
Here the power rose to 52CV. Powered by a double-bodied Weber 30 carburettor that ensures a characteristic gasoline smell in the passenger compartment. Which wraps itself with a body almost the same as its predecessorWith the exception of the dual headlights that both front and rear give the 850 Sport Coupé a sportier touch. A 2 + 2 -its rear seats are testimonial or simply for cargo or children- which has been one of the latest additions to the collection SEAT on the road.
One of the references when it comes to preserving the history of the brand, which has just carried out the mechanical restoration of this delicious unit finished in Lago Verde 316. Color that combines perfectly with the interior upholstered in white scay . Definitely a combination of soft pastel tones with clear evocations of the Mediterranean summer. Perfect moment to enjoy this 850 Sport Coupé since, far from being designed to bring out the rage of a rally or promotion car, this sports car has leisure driving as a more than pleasant goal.
Photographs: SEAT Collection in Shooting / SEAT