Auto Tech

Scrapyard Gem: 2008 SEAT Altea

Scrapyard Gem 2008 Seat Altea

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The mighty Volkswagen Group Empire has absorbed quite a few storied brands over the decades, from Porsche to Bentley to Scout, but you won’t see the products of one of its biggest subsidiaries on American streets. That’s SEAT, whose products are common sights all over Western Europe. In order to find used-up SEATs, your best bet is to travel to junkyards on the other side of the Atlantic, which I did recently. Today’s Junkyard Scrapyard Gem is an Altea compact MPV, found in a self-service boneyard in Yorkshire, England.

The Spanish automotive industry never made much of an impression in the United States, despite producing some amazing Hispano-Suizas and Pegasos. In Europe, though, vehicles bearing the badges of the Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo are seen everywhere. SEAT was formed as a partnership between the government of dictator Francisco Franco and Fiat; the first badge-engineered Fiat 1400s rolled off the assembly line in 1953. Fiat ditched SEAT in 1982, after which Volkswagenwerk AG swooped in, taking full control by 1990. Soon after, the Warsaw Pact disintegrated and Volkswagen added Škoda to its stable.

The Altea was built from the 2005 through 2015 model years in virtually unchanged form. It lived on the same platform as the Mk5 and Mk6 VW Golf, the Audi A3 and the Mk2 Škoda Octavia.

The Altea, which was named after the Mediterranean city popular with European tourists from colder climates, seems to have been viewed by British car shoppers as a sportier-looking and roomier version of the Golf.

The “tall hatchback” MPV design never caught on so well in the United States, but it was very popular in Europe during the 2000s. I’ve documented a few other types from my trip to the scrapyards of England, including a Hyundai Matrix, a first-generation Honda HR-V, a Citroën C4 Picasso and a Citroën Xsara Picasso Desire.

Look at all the cool Altea colors you could get (in Spain)!


Many engine choices, both petrol and diesel, were available for the Altea. This one has the 1.6-liter petrol-burner, rated at 125 horsepower.

An automatic transmission was available, but this car has the base five-speed manual.

It crashed hard enough to fire the airbags, and that means the end of the line for a 16-year-old right-hand-drive Spanish car.

To the skiers who refused to believe that one ski could be more fun.

SEAT hired John McEnroe to pitch the Altea. ¡Keep the rebel alive!

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