This 1969 SEAT 600D Lives A Happy Little Life In Chicago
Photography by Ivan Scott
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Almost any Spaniard of any generation will identify with the most iconic car manufactured under the SEAT make. Much like the British relate to the Mini and the Land Rover and Italians to their FIATs and Alfa Romeos, the motor revolution arrived in Spain in 1957 by the way of the licensed-by-FIAT, SEAT 600.
Manufactured in a single plant on the outskirts of Barcelona, it was fuel efficient, reliable and had enough room for your standard Spanish family of four. But more importantly, it meant Spain now had affordable family transportation! Much like any other Spanish family, this was my father’s first car. But by the time I was born, the dictatorship was over, and the Spanish-motor landscape had allowed cars like Peugeots, Renault, and Citroën along with the Germans into the market.
However far from being forgotten, I had always wanted to own one of those SEAT 600s and be able to experience the car that meant the most to Spain. After months of searching through online classifieds and websites, I came across this SEAT in a post with only one picture. But for some reason, the red interior drew me to the car, and I soon had my father, who still lives in Spain, calling on the owner to set up a date to see it. As part of a business trip to Barcelona, I laid over in Madrid for a few days and my father picked me up from Madrid Barajas Airport and we headed straight to Paracuellos del Jaramathe, a town of on the outskirts of Madrid.
The owner, an avid SEAT collector, was not sure about wanting to sell it as his 14-year-old daughter was quite fond of the car but he let us see it. The SEAT was living in the owner’s typical Spanish underground garage and it was covered by a yellow cloth FIAT cover. It had not been used regularly in eight years, but the owner poured some gas in the tank, connected the battery and with the wispiest puff of smoke, it came to life.
I knew right then, without a doubt, that I had to convince the owner to sell it to me. Hoping that the lure of an international destination would suffice, I proceeded to explain that the car would come to Chicago with me and become an almost one-of-a-kind in the US. That helped seal the deal and with some savvy paperwork done and about 45 days later, I had a little piece of Spain with me in Chicago!