In this Mobil’Idées largely devoted to Seat, we could obviously have found one of the models offered for sale by the Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo during the ’50s, ’60s or ’70s… which in fact came down to make you discover adaptations of many Fiats of the time, from the moment Seat had indeed seen the light of day with the help of the Italian giant. Until the beginning of the 1980s, with a few exceptions, Seat’s history was therefore not fundamentally interesting…
And hello from Seat, it was coming from Volkswagen! The German group is indeed becoming a commercial and industrial partner of the Spaniards. And if some Audi and Volkswagen were going to be built in the Seat factories, a first original model finally appeared in 1984: the Ibiza! Finally, original, more or less, because the project that was to lead to the Ibiza had initially been refused for the second generation of the VW Golf!
The look of the Ibiza, well in tune with the times, we owe it to the Italdesign company of a certain Giorgietto Giugiaro, who started from a platform of… Fiat Ritmo! Or when history tends to repeat itself… Presented at the Paris Motor Show, it immediately hit the mark, attracting a young clientele, who clearly had a lot of sun in their heads. It is even worth talking about an incredible Success Story, since Seat was to produce more than 1,342,000 first-generation Ibizas.
Among the elements explaining the success of the Ibiza, there is another collaboration to discover… under the hood! Here is indeed a little something that was going to make all the difference: a mechanics… System Porsche! Useless however to imagine any block of the famous German manufacturer, this one having more simply collaborated in the development of the engines and gearbox of the Ibiza. Better, to be able to include the mention ‘System Porsche’ on its engines, Seat had to pay at the time the sum, certainly modest, of 7 deutsche marks to Porsche… by Ibiza sold! But at the image level, it was just great…
Little genius, however, in terms of equipment and the passenger compartment, very much in the style of what was being done in the heart of the 80s, the golden period of ubiquitous plastic. It’s functional and practical, if not spectacular. On the other hand, the habitability of the model is rather surprising, an impression confirmed by a 320 dm³ trunk, which takes full advantage of the fact that the spare wheel has been placed… on the engine compartment, at the front.
In fact, what will go down in history is the modern character of Ibiza. With its 1200 and 1500cc mechanics, the first Seat worthy of the name exceeded 150 km/h at peak speed. All backed by front suspensions that should be described as well in tune with the times, and an efficient rear axle.
If the Ibiza is not the most comfortable of cars, its seats being rather firm and its noise level high, at 37 springs for our test model, it continues to find its place in current traffic. And what does not spoil anything, with a consumption oscillating between 5 and 9 liters per 100 kilometers, according to the use, the model was certainly not most voracious of the Eighties.
Does this mean that the first version of the Seat Ibiza, or Ibiza Mk1, is a good pick for the old car enthusiast wishing to start a collection? Yes and no. Yes, because with a production that lasted almost 10 years, this car is not rare. The Giugiaro look goes well, with the wheels returned to the ends, and if you take good care of the bodywork, the Ibiza Mk1 can still be synonymous with fun, without having to break the bank.
On the other hand, as we saw during our test drive, the first-generation Ibiza does not yet give the impression of an ‘old’ car. She is one of the increasingly popular Youngtimers, but does not turn heads. At least not yet. Especially in this rather dull shade, on a rainy day. Make no mistake, though, proudly enthroned in the D’Ieteren Gallery, this 1985 Ibiza is waiting for its time and a new period of glory that is sure to arrive. (Vincent Franssen)