King meets an old friend

HE visited most of the SEAT facilities in Martorell, he got close up to the assembly lines and was given an insight into some of the car company’s best-kept secrets – its future models.

But the biggest smile on the face of Felipe VI during his entire visit came from a surprise.

The King once more came face-to-face with his first-ever car – a 1.5 litre, metallic gold Ibiza which his father, King Juan Carlos, gave him for his 18th birthday in 1986.

The King let out an emotional laugh on seeing the car.

“I imagine he recalled his first car, his student days, his 18 years,” said Isidre Lopez, head of Classic Cars at SEAT, and whose team carried out the painstaking work of restoring it, with 152,000 kilometres on the clock and not having been started up for more than 16 years.

When it was built, the car was very much ahead of its time, being equipped with an injection engine and air conditioning, two full years before these items were introduced on series production cars. For the technical team in charge of the process of restoration, the most difficult part was getting the fuel feed and injection system up and running, since the car had not been on the road for many years. Other work was also done on the integrated paintwork, upholstery, tyres and wheels. In fact, “it is a unique, special, custom-built Ibiza,” added Lopez. One example of this is that the seats are tailored to the height of Felipe VI.

“The effort put in was well worth it,” said Lopez and his team.

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