Test your knowledge: When was the Spanish car maker Seat founded?

The moment Spain got back onto its feet, or rather wheels

Seat's first car, the Seat 1400

IN THE late 1940s and early 1950s, Spain was creaking at the seams. The civil war had left it alienated for a decade and in dire need of economic invigoration. When the author Truman Capote travelled through the country by train for the New Yorker magazine, he remarked that it trundled along with such faltering progress that butterflies were able to flit in and out of its missing windows.

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People had little choice, though. Cars were considered such an extravagance that there were just 3.1 vehicles per 1,000 people. The state realised that building its own cars would not only mobilise its citizens but provide jobs and prosperity too. It set about founding Seat.

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Seat – which stands for Sociedad Española de Automoviles de Turismo – was founded on May 9, 1950, by a state-owned industrial holding company. The government ploughed 600m pesetas (equivalent to about £300m in today’s terms) into the business, and the first car, the 1400, was aimed at the wealthy and taxi drivers.

When the first 1400s rolled off the production line in Barcelona, at a rate of just five a day, it was November 13, 1953. By 1956 Seat was making 42 cars a day, or 10,000 a year. Things have moved on somewhat since then. In the first quarter of this year the company, now owned by the Volkswagen Group, sold 102,700 cars.