1957 almost seems a lifetime away but even then, the designers at SEAT embraced a revolutionary way of construction cars. Back then it was to create the SEAT 600 and now, almost 60 years on, the SEAT Ateca is benefitting from those very early technological advances.
The body of the SEAT 600 was quite revolutionary. Most of the pre-war cars features a separate chassis to which a body was attached. Even the most luxurious cars were built using this method. Rolls-Royce would supply a complete chassis with engine – gearbox – suspension – wheels and brakes to a ‘bespoke’ coachbuilder who would then produce a body to mount onto the chassis.
Then in the 1930’s a new method of construction was developed so the body was then built from pressed steel parts and welded together to form a body and chassis as one! This was then known as unitary construction. That is how the SEAT 600 was build and how the Ateca is built today. But, that’s where the similarities end!
They are both unitary constructions but the method and materials used are very different. The SEAT 600’s vast array of steel panels and sections were welded together by hand. The Atecas panels are spot welded but nowadays not by hand but by robots. The difference now being that on the modern-day cars, ever spot weld is in exactly the correct place and this is consistent all the way down today's production line.
The SEAT 600 was made from one type of steel whether it was used for the bulkhead, doors or between the engine and the passenger compartment. In today’s Ateca, a variety of different grades of steel are used. This use of materials not only creates a very strong, still and safe body but it also helps makes the modern-day car as light as possible.
The SEAT 600 in its day was a safe car but it did not perform well under crash tests.
In this modern-day era, sophisticated computer and computer programmes are used for analysis. The SEAT body can now be virtually built on a computer and then manipulated to simulate the loads that go through the body on the road via the cars suspension. In the same these computers are used to simulate a crash thus predicting how the structure will deform on impact. So, by the time the car is actually crash tested, the engineers will have a pretty good idea of how the cars structure as a whole will perform.
What hasn’t changed in the 60 or so years of SEAT creating beautiful cars is that on both the SEAT 600 and the Ateca a great deal of effort was made to produce an attractive, stylish car. It’s what the eye cannot see that has been transformed.