The origins of the Santana company can be traced back to the formation of Metalu’rgica de Santa Ana, S.A. in Linares, Province of Jaén, on 24 February 1955.
The company’s factory (above), which would manufacture agricultural machinery, had been built with the aid of public funding from the Spanish Government, which was keen to promote the industrialisation of the province.
The following year, an agreement was reached with Rover to build the Land Rover at the plant, with the first Spanish-built models scheduled to reach the marketplace in 1959; in the event, that deadline was beaten by a year…
The following table charts the main developments in the production of the Land Rover in Spain until 2011:
|The first Spanish-built Land Rovers are launched: Series II models, with a choice of 2.0-litre or 4.0-litre petrol engines and a 2.0-litre diesel engine.
|Production of the Series IIA begins, in 4.0-litre petrol and 2-litre diesel versions.
|Production of a new model, the Land Rover 1300, begins, again in both petrol and diesel versions.
|The Land Rover 109 ‘Rural Taxi’ is launched, with five doors and a second row of forward-facing seats.
|Assembly of 106-inch military versions begins, with various versions, including an ambulance and special models designed for deep-fording and desert use.
|Special versions of the 88-inch and 109-inch Land Rovers are launched, with anatomical seats, Alpine windows, an aerodynamic hood and headlights mounted in the front wings.
|All models gain the wing-mounted headlights.
|Production of the Series III models begins, with some important improvements over the Series II, including synchromesh on all gears and a dashboard redesigned with safety in mind.
|All models gain dual-circuit brakes.
|All models gain a brake servo, and manufacture of a one-tonne, six-cylinder military version begins.
|The first six-cylinder diesel-engined 109-inch Land Rovers are built.
|The Land Rover 1300 is replaced by the Santana 2000, with a two-tonne payload and six-cylinder engine.
|The 88-inch model is withdrawn, and a number of improvements are introduced across the remaining range, including a five-bearing crank.
|The company name is changed from Metalu’rgica de Santa Ana, SA to Land Rover Santana, SA.
|A contract is signed with Suzuki which would saw the Japanese company take a 20% stake in Santana, which would in turn start building the Suzuki SJ-series off-roaders, with first sales planned for 1985/86.
These Spanish-built models had over 60% European content, which meant that they were exempt from the quotas governing Japanese imports to Europe. [The manufacture and sale of such models currently forms Santana’s core business.]
|Suzuki Motor Corporation becomes the majority shareholder in Santana, with 49% of the share capital. This led to the company being renamed Santana Motor, SA at the end of the year and Land Rover production was discontinued.
|Company re-organisation sees the workforce reduced by 862 people, and a new direction for the company. A new Contract of Licence is signed with Suzuki, and Soprea SA of Andalusia acquires 83.74% of the share capital.
|The EU Commission approved community funding for the company, and agreements are signed with Suzuki for the production of new diesel-engined models and extension into new sales markets.
|The Contract of Licence with Suzuki is extended to 2006, and Santana’s share capital is reconstructed.
|The owner of the company, the Government of Andalusia, decided to close the Santana Motor company and its car factory and 1341 people were laid off or retired prematurely. From 6692 cars made in 2007, the company manufactured 1197 in 2009 and no more than 769 in 2010.
So, by the early 1990s the focus of the company’s operations had changed completely from Land Rover to Suzuki, but the story doesn’t end there. The new century saw the company facing sharply declining sales (2000 – 33,821 units; 2001 – 22,736), resulting in a loss of 301 million Euros.
Santana decided that it needed to broaden its product base and introduced a new model – the PS-10 Hannibal – at the 2002 Madrid Motor Show, with sales beginning in the autumn of that year.
Bringing the story full-circle, the Hannibal (pictured below) is, in fact, a thinly-disguised Land Rover Defender, powered by an Iveco 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine, and produced in two main body styles – a five-door station wagon and a Jeep-like cabrio. Interestingly, a front-wheel-drive version was also available in both body styles.
This page was contributed by Declan Berridge and is based on information from the official Suzuki-Santana website.
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