Saturday, 24 November 2007

Santana (1)

The amount of information about Santanas on the Internet is tiny compared to the info about Land Rovers.

Having a vested interest in this, I thought I would start to write something based on everything I have found so far in Spanish and English - with links.

In my reading about Santana I have found a lot of inconsistencies - so I am trying to put them all together. If I have mistranslated anything please let me know. Also if you have anything to add or find any errors please comment and I will update it (with a reference back to any other sources or websites, and acknowledgement to the sender).

So...Santana...The history. Part 1

Land Rover and Santa Ana struck the deal in 1956, for the Spanish company to build Land Rovers under licence in Spain. santanauk (Image courtesy of the same website).

But how and why did Santa Ana start up? For the following history I am grateful to AutoAventura 4x4 for the excellent and very interesting story of the origins of Santa Ana.

The Jaen Plan

In the early 1950s the province of Jaen in Andalucia was in a poor economic position. Many people could only get work for a few weeks in the olive-picking season. Only 20% of the population had running water. After some lobbying of the Franco government of Spain, a development plan for Jaen was approved in July 1953.

There were four aspects to the plan: improving the water supply with new reservoirs, regenerating the countryside, extending electrification and the railway connections, and finally - industrialisation.

The last one of these, industrialisation, included the establishment of an agricultural machinery factory. There were two key contenders for the location of this new factory, Martos and Linares. The efforts of the Civil Governor of the Province and the Mayor of Linares ensured that the site of the new factory was to be Linares.

Linares was a city with an impressive and long history, and from the sixteenth century onwards, it had become an important centre for agriculture and stock-breeding. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the lead-mining industry developed in the area - many exploited by British companies - with the lead exported not just to Spain but also to America. It's slightly ironic that the location for the Land Rover deal was a place where the British had already made their mark.

The decline of the mines was one of the reasons why Linares was chosen for the new machinery factory. The approval for Linares as the site for the new workshop or factory for agricultural machinery was given in December 1953.

The bid for the right to go ahead with the factory was won by Don Antonio Saez de Montagut, Don Alfredo Jimenez Cassina, Vicente Izurquiza and other associates. They formally constituted themselves as a firm in February 1955 with initial capital of three million old pesetas.

Jimenez Cassina had found the right place to build the factory. It was on land owned by a family from Santander. They had come to Jaen to try and acclimatise dairy cows from Cantabria to the hotter climate of Jaen. It hadn't worked, but the swimming pool they started was successful, attracting lots of swimmers. In a very short time the consortium acquired the finca for the grand sum of 650,000 pesetas - a fortune in those days.

They called the new finca Santa Ana - which quickly became contracted to Santana. They immediately built a warehouse of 4,000 square metres, and in December 1955 they had extended the property by buying another 90,000 square meters of neighbouring land. The new buildings were blessed in May 1956 - Santana was up and running.

Image from Club Land Rover Todo Terreno España

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