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Santana Land-Rover


Santana Land Rovers 1958-2011

The origins of the Santana company can be traced back to the formation of Metalurgica de Santa Ana, S.A. in Linares, Spain in 1955. In 1954 under "Plan Jaen", a government initiative to industrialize the Andalusian province, a group of businessmen obtained the license to produce 1,000 units of agricultural machinery per year.

The company started out by building combine harvesters and other farming equipment, but anxious to diversify their production, they soon came into contact with Rover. The Linares factory had been built with the aid of funding from the Spanish government, and so with their help, the following year an agreement was reached with the Rover Company to build the Land-Rover at the plant.

The initial worldwide success of the Land-Rover had outstripped Rover's ability to supply, and at that time Land-Rovers were being produced under license in Belgium by Minerva, and in Germany by Tempo. Rover was interested in the project, and talks focused on the choice of a model to be produced in Spain, as Rover wanted the Series I model to be built in Spain, using the machinery and tooling from Minerva whose contract had ended, while the Spanish wanted to produce an updated model, namely the new Series II.

Import permits were obtained for the necessary machinery from the Ministry of Commerce and finally in 1958 the company began production of the Land-Rover Series II model.

In 1959, just a year after the Series II became available from Land-Rover, the first Spanish-built Santana Land-Rovers are launched, 75 percent locally manufactured, with a choice of 2.25 litre petrol engine or 2 litre diesel engine.

Due to the Spanish government's stake in the venture, the first 1500 vehicles had to be 75% locally made, the next 1000 85% locally made, and from there the Santana Land-Rovers had to be 95% of Spanish manufacture. This prompted the development of engine design and manufacture within the company.

The first Santana Land-Rover vehicles were 88 inch models, with the long wheelbase 109 inch model following later. These were almost identical to their British counterparts.

The large majority of the vehicles manufactured in these first years went to the Armed Police, Civil Guard, Ministry of Public Works, etc. The Spanish armed forces also purchased numerous vehicles, a military version with a canvas roof and a jerry can located at both ends of the front bumper.

Santana Military version
Santana military version.

In 1962 production of the new Series IIa began, with few changes in comparison to its predecessor, but with the new 2.25 litre diesel engine as an option. Meanwhile the company diversified their production further by starting the manufacture of gearboxes for the Citroen factory in Vigo.

The factory was enlarged several times, and a new centre of production was established for the production of components for engines such as blocks and rods, plus axles and differentials. In La Carolina, a new centre was set up dedicated to the distribution of completed models, and the installation of specific special order components, as well as hosting the training school of the company.

In 1962, with local content of the vehicles now at almost 95 percent, the company began exporting operations with a first shipment of vehicles to Colombia, revealing the South American market as one of the main destinations for Santana Land-Rovers. Supplying fully-built or as completely knocked-down (CKD) kits to be assembled at the destination country, Santana exported Land-Rovers to Central and South America, North Africa and the Middle East, especially Morocco, Iran and Costa Rica. The Rover Company supported these exports as they were unable to access many of these markets themselves.

Early on, Santana had also set up a research and development department, the first product of which was the 1300 forward control model, which appeared in 1967. Although totally of Santana design, it does bear many similarities to the Land-Rover IIa forward control, and was developed in a similar way. Santana decided to name this vehicle by it's load capacity rather than by it's wheelbase size, as Land-Rovers were named, and so the '1300' could carry 1300 kilos of goods. The vehicle was available in several different versions, including pick-up, chassis-cab, double-cab or, minibus / van, each being available with 2.25 litre petrol or diesel engines.

Santana Land Rover 1300
Santana Land Rover 1300.

In 1968 a new version was added to the range. The five door 109 inch "Station Wagon", having been available from Rover almost from the outset, finally aquires a Spanish cousin.

The production of Santana Land-Rovers received a fresh impetus in the late 1960s with the emergence in 1969 of exclusively military models, developed entirely in Linares. Although these bear some resemblance to the 'Lightweight' Land-Rover, the emergence of both British and Spanish versions was parallel, and because of differing design considerations, none of the panels on the Spanish vehicles needed to be demountable to make it airportable.

The 88 inch Ligero Militar and the 109 inch Militar were produced, with specifications for a payload of 1/4 ton for the 88, and a ton for the 109. These models received a new body with greatly simplified lines, angles and wings, with a canvas roof top on all versions.

These were further developed, producing a special version equipped for deep wading, with a shielded electrical system, snorkel and high exhaust exit, specially designed for the Marines, and a model designed to carry a 106mm gun on the back. This model had backwards angled wing fronts, and the windscreen was split into two independent halves with a gap between them to allow the gun to protrude over the bonnet.

Snorkel equipped Santana

Snorkel Equipped Santana Land Rover

Santana 88 inch CSR 106

Santana militar 88 inch CSR




3 pics above supplied by Neele Wajnsztok


Other versions were equipped for radio communications, in this case with a fibreglass hardtop, or intended to patrol in the desert, equipped with a cooling system, strengthened upper air intake and two fuel tanks. An ambulance version was also created, with capacity for four stretchers, with special bodywork in the same vein as the Series IIa Land-Rover ambulances.

Santana Militar 109
Santana Militar 109.

The evolution of civilian Santana Land-Rovers continued and in 1970 they introduced two new versions (88 inch and 109 inch) called "Especial" with a more comfortable interior than the basic models. These were offered with their own paint colour range and had Alpine windows in the rear, although the most significant change occurred at the front, as the headlights moved to the wings for the first time, while on the grille panel, where the ordinary models had their headlights, driving lights were fitted.

In 1972, due to a change in Spanish motoring legislation, the lights moved to the wings on all models, three years after they did so on their British counterparts. Most Santana Land-Rovers made prior to this date and still 'on the road' in Spain were forced to adapt to the rules and change the location of their headlights, with varying degrees of success, but for unknown reasons a few vehicles have been maintained to this day with the lights in their original position.

In 1974, three years later than in Britain, the Series III model is launched, distinguished from its predecessors by various technical improvements which include a new gearbox with synchromesh on all gears and a redesigned dashboard, as well as adopting across the full range some of the improvements of the 1970 Especial.

In 1975, all models were now supplied fitted with dual-circuit brakes.

In 1976, all models gained a brake servo.

The obvious need to provide more power for the vehicles gave birth to new 6-cylinder engines developed totally in-house. The V8 petrol engine used in the Range Rover and other Land Rover models was never adopted by Santana, as it was perceived as being too thirsty.

The new 6-cylinder, 3.4 litre petrol (104 hp) and diesel (94 hp) engines were produced essentially by adding two more cylinders to the current Land Rover 2.25 litre 4-cylinder engine design. Because of this new longer engine type, 6-cylinder equipped vehicles were redesigned with the radiator grille moving out flush with the wings, whilst the gearbox and axles were upgraded to deal with the extra power.
The engine was only available on the 109" versions as this allowed the capacity of the fuel tank to be increased, although on request it was installed on military models and in some versions of the '1300'. Overdrive and free-wheeling hubs were offered as a factory fitted option for the first time.

Santana Series III 6 Cylinder Land Rover
Santana Series III 6 Cylinder Land Rover.

One of the good qualities of a 6-cylinder equipped 109 was that it allowed road travel speeds previously unknown to the owners of Santana Land-Rovers, but against them was difficult starting due to the starter motor being too small, and fuel consumption was high.

In 1978, the '1300' forward control model was replaced by the new 'modelo 2000' forward control vehicle, with a 2-tonne payload and 6-cylinder petrol or diesel engine fitted as standard, with an unladen weight (chassis-cab version) of 2,360 kg. The Santana 2000 was marketed in different versions as a double cab or panel van, although the most widespread was the chassis-cab bodywork supplied to specialist conversion companies.

Santana '2000' Forward Control
Santana '2000' Forward Control.

In 1979 the Series IIIa 109" 6-cylinder 'Especial' was introduced, with rectangular headlights.
The front door sliding glass panes became a wind-up/down type, the windscreen was made as one piece (no centre split) and the roof was now made of fibreglass rather than aluminium.
The front central seat was eliminated and a centre-console was fitted, Overdrive and freewheeling hubs came as standard equipment, as well as two fuel tanks giving 92 litres capacity. The spare wheel was originally positioned on the tailgate, but ultimately this caused the breakage of the hinges and Santana had to find another location.

Santana Series IIIa Land Rover
Santana Series IIIa 4 cylinder Land Rover.

Santana Series IIIa 6 Cylinder Land Rover
Santana Series IIIa 6 Cylinder Land Rover.

In 1980 the 88 inch model was withdrawn, and a number of improvements were introduced across the remaining range, including a new engine block with a 5-bearing crank. To supply the then fledgling market for leisure vehicles, the Santana 'Ligero' (Ligero = 'Light weight'), a civilian version of the Series III 'Militar' lightweight-style vehicle was introduced. Soft-top or hardtop options were available, with an exclusive range of very bright colours.

Santana Land Rover Ligero
Santana Land-Rover Ligero.

In 1981 the company name is changed from Metalurgica de Santa Ana, SA to Land Rover Santana, SA. The petrol engined Ligero was the cheapest model of the entire Santana Land Rover range, whilst the diesel version cost the same as the 88 inch base model.

In 1982 Santana Land Rovers with a 6-cylinder engine were renamed 'Cazorla' and 1983's four-cylinder engined models were renamed 'Super'. The new 'Cazorla' version was visually rather like Land Rover's Stage 1 vehicle, it was fitted as standard with overdrive, front disc brakes, power steering and three windscreen wipers on the one-piece windscreen.

The 'Super' versions incorporated part of the improvements of the Cazorla, and the 4 cylinder engine size was increased to 2,500cc. The 'Super Turbo' version was among other things the first turbocharged variant of the 2.25 litre Diesel, with an output of 75 bhp and a torque of 180 Nm, - three years before the British turbo-diesel appeared.

Santana Land Rover - Cazorla 6 Cylinder

Santana Land Rover - Cazorla 6 Cylinder
Santana Land Rover - Cazorla 6 Cylinder.

In early 1983 Santana signed an agreement with Suzuki to manufacture the Small Suzuki SJ-410 off-roaders, with first sales planned for 1985/86. Suzuki took a 20% stake in Santana. At around the same time, Land Rover decided to release its equity, which had become 30% thanks largely to its contribution of machinery, and so Santana terminated co-operation with Land Rover, removing the Land Rover name from it's vehicles. Santana had enjoyed a long association with Land Rover, having built in the region of 300,000 'Series' vehicles from 1958 through to 1985. By the end of this period however, the vehicles being built were quite different in many respects from British Land Rovers.

1983 saw the launch of the Santana Series IV 2.5 or '2500' model. As part of a cost cutting package, the hardtop windows each side of the rear door disappeared. The 2500 introduced the use of parabolic leaf springs, the same year Land Rover changed to coil springs. Power steering became standard equipment. The six-cylinder diesel engine remained with the designation of '3500', and petrol versions were only available by special order until stocks were depleted.

Santana Series IV / 2500
Santana Series IV / 2500.

In 1984 the six cylinder diesel engines were discontinued.

1991: Suzuki Motor Corporation became the majority shareholder in Santana, with 49% of the share capital. This led to the company being renamed Santana Motor, SA.

Although on the sales catalogue until 1994, the appearance of the Nissan Patrol and the massive influx of new all-terrain vehicles caused a gradual decline in sales of Santana Land Rovers. This focused the firm on the production of the Suzuki, whose range was increasing with the emergence of the SJ-413, Samurai and Vitara models.

1994: Santana 2500 production ceased.

A last attempt to revitalize the model occured with the development of the military prototype 300-M, equipped with the Italian VM Motori turbo diesel engine, but the Spanish Army chose another vehicle, which stalled the project that could have produced a new Santana model.

1994-96: The company was forced through re-structuring and ownership changes, and Santana sold it's 2500 production line machinery and tooling to Morattab in Iran. However a new licence contract was signed with Suzuki, and agreements were signed for the production of new diesel-engined Suzuki models and extension into new sales markets.

1997: The licence contract with Suzuki is extended to 2006.

1999: The PS-10 concept vehicle is introduced - Essentially a re-design of the 'Series IV' 2.5 / 2500, but using Iveco's 2.8 litre, four cylinder turbo-diesel engine.

2000/01 saw the company facing sharply declining sales (2000 - 33,821 units; 2001 - 22,736), resulting in a loss of 301 million Euros. Santana decided that it needed to broaden its product base, and so introduced their new model - the 'PS-10' (outside Spain) or 'Anibal' (Spain only) - at the 2002 Madrid Motor Show in May that year. They planned to sell more than six thousand units per year, and sell directly to Land Rover's home markets.

Santana PS-10 Anibal

Santana PS-10 / Anibal

Bringing the story almost full-circle, the PS-10 was in fact a very thinly-disguised Land Rover, powered by an Iveco 2.8-litre 4 cylinder turbodiesel engine, using parabolic spring suspension, and produced in two main body styles - a 5-door station wagon and a pick-up. Interestingly, a front-wheel-drive only version was also available in both body styles.

PS-10 pickup

PS-10 / Anibal Pickup

2006 saw the release of a short wheelbase version, launched at the Madrid International Motor Show, with a new Iveco 3 litre diesel engine and a six speed gearbox. This machine was once again set to lock horns directly with the Defender.

PS10 anibal swb

PS-10 / Anibal swb

2006 May 26th: Santana and Iveco signed an agreement to work together to develop new light 4 wheel drive vehicles.

2007: IVECO Massif - a re-badged and restyled PS-10 - is unveiled.
Iveco are to market the vehicle worldwide, using the Fiat brand in the South American markets.

Iveco Massif

2009: Santana ceased production of right hand drive PS-10s for the UK market, Although parts were still available from Norfolk Trucks. With the change of industrial partner from Suzuki to Fiat-Iveco, Santana broke its relations with Suzuki in 2009 and from then on it no longer made any Suzuki models under license. The breaking of the partnership with Santana meant that in many countries, Suzuki no longer supported the cars that were made by Santana under the Suzuki license and brand.

Because Suzuki had kept the distribution network previously used by Santana, Santana was not able to sell the cars that it was manufacturing under its own brand. Only the access to the commercial network of Iveco would have allowed the company to go on. However, In 2010, the sales of the Iveco Massif were not as expected and Iveco decided to stop the agreement with Santana.

2011: The owner of the company, the Government of Andalusia, decided to close the Santana Motor company and its car factory, and the company is put into liquidation (the liquidation notice was posted on the santana website -


A. Miguel Zuniga Wrote:

Sir, I have read the history you published on your website for Santana. It's well explained, but the end of the story is not written. Santana is not in liquidation, all production lines are kept inside the factory and can not be sold. Nobody works today in the factory producing cars, but there is a contract to manufacture aluminum casings for Renault. (Santana started in the 1950s building gearboxes for Citroen).

Currently Santana is developing a new vehicle based on the Iveco Massif, the new version will be electric and will have a small diesel generator. They also plan to add a FIAT diesel motor version.

Electrical prototypes have been built with Renault collaboration. They have not specified the vehicle's power output, but they announced a range of 600Km. They plan to build their own distribution (dealer) network. They talk to start production in 2013. There was some copyright property disagreement between Iveco and Santana. Currently, property is exclusively from Santana. You can read more in Diario de Jaen newspaper: (Spanish language)

A. Miguel

If you can help out with more information regarding Santana SA or their vehicles, past or present, please do so.

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Santana pictures

Santana Series Land Rover
Santana Land Rover Station Wagon.

Scrapped Santana '1300' Minibus & Friend
Scrapped Santana '1300' Minibus & Friend.

Santana PS-10 'Anibal'
Santana PS-10 rescue truck.

Santana Militar
Santana Militar.