Land-Rover Santana: aerodrome fire engine
It was originally created in 1956 as “Metalúrgica de Santa Ana, S.A.” to manufacture agricultural machinery, but soon, in 1961, it began to produce off-road cars under licence from Land Rover in it’s factory in Linares sold under the name “Land Rover Santana”.
It manufactured various comparable models, which were enormously popular among Spanish farmers and ranchers, and exported many to South America, North Africa and the Middle East, always with the authorisation of the British licensee, which had been unable to meet the demand of these regions.
In 1989, after financial difficulties forced Land Rover to cancel its participation in Santana Motor, the company began to market versions of the Land Rover under the Santana brand, such as the Santana 2500, an off-road vehicle that had broad appeal throughout Spain’s varying terrain during the 1990s. The last models manufactured under the name “Land Rover Santana” were sent at the request of the Spanish Government as a donation to Colombia, as were a few others to Mexico. Even today, collectors rank the Land Rover Santana 88 model as the most iconic of the brand.
The arrival on the market of new off-road models and a certain technological obsolescence led Santana to seek international alliances, which were found in 1985 with the Japanese brand Suzuki. Models such as the Samurai, Vitara and Jimny were manufactured under this agreement. In 1995, the Junta de Andalucía bought the entirety of the company from Suzuki; but this nationalisation of Santana quickly led to great financial difficulties, and by 2001 it registered losses of over €300 million. To compensate for this, the company launched its own off-road vehicle, the Aníbal, which was commissioned by the Spanish, French and Czech armies.
From 2006 to 2009, Santana produced cars under agreement with Iveco, most notably the Massif. However, the consistent and ever-growing decline in Santana’s sales and its financial losses of €42 million by 2010 led to a vote within the company’s workers to disband Santa Motor once and for all. The vote was won by an 83% majority, and the company filed for settlement the 16 February 2011.
Today, Santana vehicles are highly sought after, particularly in the United Kingdom where they have been auctioned for relatively high prices. Their similarity to the scarce original Land Rover-series cars and their longevity have made Santanas desirable amongst collectors and a icon of four-by-four vehicles.