The Big Car Database


Santana Motor S.A. was a Spanish car manufacturer based in Linares, in the province of Jaén, Spain.

Industry Automotive
Fate Liquidated
Successor Santana Motor, S.A., en Liquidación
Founded Linares, Spain (1956)
Defunct 2011
Headquarters Linares, Spain
Products Automobiles


The company was founded as "Metalúrgica de Santa Ana, SA" and originally manufactured agricultural equipment. The company was set up with a start up of just 3 million pesetas, following a drive by the Spanish government in 1954 who were offering start-up incentives to local businesses to encourage development in the Andalucia region of Southern Spain. The company decided to expand beyond its original products line and entered into talks with the Rover car company in 1956 in an attempt to get a licensing agreement to build Land Rover Series models in their factory, in a similar way to the Minerva company in Belgium, Tempo in Germany and Morattab company in Iran, all built Series Land Rovers under license. An agreement was reached in 1956 and production began in 1958 it was licensed to build Land Rover models. The Santana Motor company built Series Land Rovers under license in CKD form (Complete Knocked Down kits); essentially parts were shipped over from the Land Rover factory in Solihull and the Land Rovers were built up from this 'kit' at the Santana factory in Spain.

From 1968 Santana began to develop its own versions of the Land Rover Series Models, developing new engines and new models and this close relationship with Land Rover led to the company to change its name from "Metalúrgica de Santa Ana, SA" to "Land Rover Santana, SA".

In 1962 the company became responsible for promoting the Santana and Land Rover brands in the Central and South American Markets as well as Africa. CKD kits were also supplied to the Moroccan and Costa Rican markets by the company. Because of the harsh working lives vehicles lead in these environments, customer feedback on the range meant that Santana were often far more aware of each model's failings than the Land Rover company itself was. Because of the tight financial position of British Leyland in this period (who owned Land Rover), Santana were often better placed than Land Rover was to deal with these failings. This meant that Santana began to engineer its own solutions to common problems into the models it produced and so originality between Santana's models and Land Rover's equivalents – a trend which led to the company's position today. Up to the late 1980s the Santana models – supposed to be quickly and cheaply built versions of Land Rover's own product often ended up being different to Landrover's own vehicles. For instance Santana models featured anatomical seats, disc-brakes, turbo diesel engines, taper-leaf springs, parabolic springs, and civilian specification Forward Control models before the Land Rover equivalents and even a civilian version of the Land Rover Lightweight called the "Ligero" which was never released by Land Rover.

Suzuki years

The Santana Motor Company ended its agreement with Land Rover in 1983 but continued to develop its own range of vehicles which remained visually similar to Land Rover's Series and Defender range.

The Santana Motor Company began a relationship with Suzuki in the early 1980s when Suzuki bought a 20% stake in the company and from 1986 Santana started to produce licensed versions of Suzuki models such as the Suzuki Jimny/SJ and Suzuki Vitara. Although many of its products like the Santana Series VI/2500 were still visually similar to those of the Land Rover range the company moved even closer to Suzuki in 1991 when Suzuki gained a 49% stake in the company, becoming the controlling shareholder. A name change followed to Santana Motor,SA in the same year.

By the mid-1990s Santana's relationship with Land Rover seemed to have completely ceased as it was now only producing licensed Suzuki models and production of the Santana Series VI/2500; the last Santana with visual similarities to Land Rover's current utility equivalent - the Defender, ended in 1994. The end of production of the Series VI/2500 was forced by the new owners Suzuki who restructured the company and the production machinery and tooling for the Series VI/2500 was sold to Morattab – an Iranian motor company.

In March 1995, Suzuki decided to desinvest from Santana. Suzuki kept the distribution network under the exclusive name of Suzuki and sold the car factory to the Government of the Region of Andalusia for one peseta.

Nevertheless, the company continued to manufacture new models of cars for Suzuki. Suzuki signed a new license contract with an agreement to produce new diesel engined Santana models of Suzuki off roaders. This contract was extended in 1997 to 2006. Additionally, Santana's continuous development of the Land Rover Defender design led to the production of the PS-10. The PS-10 was released as a concept vehicle in 1999, but production of the PS-10 did not actually begin until 2002.

Iveco cooperation

In 2006 Iveco and Santana signed a long-term agreement to co-develop products. The first offshoot of this co-production was the Iveco Massif, a rebadged and restyled version of the Santana PS-10.The Santana produced Massif will go into direct competition with the Land Rover Defender, the direct descendant of the original utility Series Land Rover which spawned the entire Santana Motor Company.

In 2008 FIAT-Iveco announced that it has signed an option to buy Andalusian government owned Santana Motor, depending on the success of Massif.

Closure and liquidation

With the change of industrial partner from Suzuki to Fiat-Iveco, Santana broke its relations with Suzuki in 2009 and since then it no longer made any Suzuki car under license. The breaking of the partnership with Santana meant that in many countries like Spain, Suzuki no longer supported the cars that were made by Santana under the Suzuki license and brand, and addressed the owners to Santana because it considered them as Santana's cars. This represents a serious problem for many Suzuki versions that were exclusively made by Santana, from which it is difficult to find new parts.

When Santana broke with Suzuki, Suzuki kept the distribution network that had been owned by Santana for decades before. Since then, 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.

In 2011 the owner of the company, the Government of Andalusia, decided to close the Santana Motor company and its car factory and 1,341 people were laid off or retired prematurely. From 6,692 cars made in 2007, the company manufactured 1,197 in 2009 and no more than 769 in 2010.

Past models

  • Santana Series II 1958-62
  • Santana Series IIa 1962-1974
  • Santana Series III 1974-1979
  • Santana Series IIIa 1979-1983 (a version of the Land Rover Series III with improvements carried out to common flaws of the model by the Santana Company themselves, including a 75-horsepower turbocharged 2.25 Diesel engine).
  • Santana Series IV (also known as Santana 2.500) 1983-1994 (Santana's answer to Land Rover's launch of the 90 and 110 range).
  • Santana 1300 Forward Control 1967-1978 (equivalent to Land Rover's Series IIa/IIb Forward Control).
  • Santana 2000 Forward Control 1978-? (equivalent to Land Rover's 101 Forward Control).
  • Santana Militar 1969-? (Santana's equivalent of Land Rover's military vehicle - the Lightweight).
  • Santana Ligero 1980-? (A civilian version of the Militar).
  • Santana Cazorla 1982-?
  • Santana Anibal / Santana PS-10, the Santana Anibal or PS-10 is built on the basis of the Land Rover 109.
  • Santana 300/350, The Santana 300 and 350 is a copy of the Suzuki Vitara produced under licence. The 300 is a 3-door model, the 350 is a 5-door
  • Suzuki Samurai
  • Suzuki Jimny
  • Suzuki Vitara
  • Iveco Massif (produced jointly with Iveco, essentially a rebadged and branded PS-10) – rebadged and restyled version of the Santana PS-10. In 2010, the sales of the Iveco Massif were not as expected and Iveco decided to stop the agreement with Santana.