The Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo (Spanish Corporation of Private Cars), or SEAT, is a relative newcomer to the automotive industry. Founded in 1950
as a subsidiary of Fiat, a significant share of the company was owned by the Spanish government under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. The first iterations were almost identical copies of the Fiat models, such as the SEAT Panda and SEAT 600 being more a badge re-engineered Fiat Panda and Fiat 600.
Fiat withdrew from the partnership in 1981
, paving the way for SEAT’s first true model to be released; after Fiat saw the new SEAT Ronda a lawsuit ensued, it being painfully obvious that the Ronda was very similar to Fiat’s Ritmo. Then president of SEAT Juan Miguel Antoñanzas showed a Ronda to the press with all the parts different from the Fiat Ritmo painted in bright yellow to highlight the differences. This may have ended the dispute, but Fiat choose to scrap their own planned re-style of the Ritmo, deeming it to be too similar to the SEAT. In 1986
Volkswagen became a major shareholder, and by 1990
that share had grown to 100%.