Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

SEAT 850

I sent an email to Jesús Ros del Moral, asking him if he knew of the whereabouts of any old, small, cheap, Spanish cars. Jesús is the secretary of the Orihuela Seat 600 club so he seemed like a good bloke to ask. He rang around and was told there was a nice one that was nearly perfect. The owner wanted 2000€ which sounded like an affordable amount to me.

The car in question was a SEAT 850, a range of models built in Spain, under licence from Fiat between 1964 and 1974. The 850 was built alongside the SEAT 600 (see post in September 2006) and came to outsell the smaller car as Spaniards grew richer. Mind you it never captured people's hearts the way the little 600 did and nowadays it has nowhere near the same "iconic" status. Nonetheless when I told a Spanish pal I was going to look at one; she was made a sort of girlie giggling sound, "First car my dad ever had", she said.

I'd done a bit of research on the model and my only real criteria was that it should be one of the ones with front disc brakes. Sweet and cuddly as drum brakes are I'm not a big fan of the way they don't always make the car they are fitted to stop. The rest, four doors, longer or shorter body were all as one to me. All I knew about the car before I saw it was that it was red.

As soon as we walked into the lock-up I knew the car was no good. I could spot the filler in the body and the mismatched panels from 10 metres away. Closer up the tatty interior, the rot in the sills and wings and the water leak did nothing to change my first impression. Even the fact that it had discs wasn't enough. I was a bit worried that Jesús would be slighted if I just turned it down out of hand but thankfully he thought the car was rubbish too.

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