The Best Land Rover Classic – Santana 4×4

This article is about The Best Land Rover Classic – Santana 4×4

Land Rover never imagined that its history would change in such an important way by granting a production license to Metalúrgica de Santa Ana, S.A. at the end of the 50s of the last century.

Land Rover never imagined that its history would change in such an important way by granting a production license to Metalúrgica de Santa Ana, S.A. at the end of the 50s of the last century.

The Best Land Rover Classic - Santana 4x4

The Best Land Rover Classic – Santana 4×4

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History of Santana 4×4

To understand Santana’s history a little, we have to go back to post-war rural Spain, where the need to produce work vehicles for the countryside could not be supplied by imported cars, given the harsh restrictions and high customs tariffs at the time.

At that time, the response of the metalworking industry in Jaén (Andalusia, Spain) was to buy the production rights for the Series II SUVs model 88 (short chassis, 3 doors, and up to 7 seats) and 109 (long chassis, 5 doors, and up to 12 places) to be used for fieldwork and for state security and defense forces and bodies.



Aside from vehicles built to look exactly like their Land Rover counterparts, the brand later called Santana Motors produced self-designed SUVs like the 1300 models and its successor in 2000 with various body options like a pickup, crew cab, double cab, and even vehicles. Tailor-made as motorhomes and special units for rallies such as the Dakar.

By the mid-1960s, Santana had already built a very strong reputation for getting where not even Land Rovers made in the UK could get.

This reputation prompted the army to request the design of a series of light vehicles (based on the British Lightweight) in different types of bodywork and with equipment for various tasks such as an ambulance, gunnery unit, troop transport, telecommunications, etc.

This period also coincided with the last years of the Spanish colonies of Equatorial Guinea and Spanish Sahara in Africa, where the poor road infrastructures required the use of all-wheel drive cars, which is why Santana became the official provider of vehicles for individuals and state entities.


Santana 4×4 Production

This produced that the capital flow of Santana was the best in its history and that the investment in research and development paid off in the form of the indestructible gearbox LT85, known worldwide as “Santana Gearbox”.

Such was the reputation of this gearbox that the same parent company Land Rover in Solihull (Birmingham, United Kingdom) acquired the rights to produce it and offer it as a “Premium” transmission for its 90 and 110 models and, later, in the Defender models. .

It can be said that Santana was the victim of the null capacity to modernize, not only in the field of design and production of its most successful models, but also in the way of relating to its traditional market and little vision in the diversification of its product.

The strategic alliance efforts are Suzuki or Iveco were unsuccessful and its last stage passed in the red as a nationalized company that could not float.

Packed with the presence of Japanese SUVs with better performance and lower prices, Santana closed operations in 2011, thus ending more than half a century of history.

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One of the best decisions of the Management of Santana was to establish good business relationships with the governments of Latin America, which led to the opening of a good number of dealers from Central America to Patagonia.

The good reception of the public and the good performance off road made Santana a prestigious brand and sowed the seeds of many clubs and associations of owners of models of series II, III and IV (Defender) that are dedicated to restoration, maintenance and exhibition of SUVs as well as concentrations and exits through different places in the American geography.