Day-glo Seats: why the Leon 20VT was painted like the Spanish and German flags

Published: 13 May 2015

► The back story of day-glo Seats
► Why the 20VT came in three colours
► Boss of Seat Sport reveals all

An interesting aside during the recent UK launch of the Seat Leon Cupra ST – we learned the origins of the day-glo colour palette now so closely associated with the bubbly Spanish brand.

Jaime Puig, longstanding boss of Seat Sport and veteran of motorsport events on two wheels and four including the Dakar, was in charge of the launch of what many consider to be the first fast Seat road car and precursor of today’s Cupras: the Leon 20VT of 2000.

It repackaged 178bhp Audi TT/Golf GTI mechanicals in a sassy Mediterannean dress – and as well as the vigorous, tyre-squealing acceleration and chuckable handling, many still remember it for the lurid paint choices. Here was a car that demanded your attention, in pure performance terms and on-street posing power.

Seat Leon 20VT: why it will always be remembered for garish colours

Close your eyes and picture one now, and the chances are you’ll envisage a bright banana yellow one, like most of the press demonstrators dished out to British media.

The banana yellow Leon 20VT: popular in the UK

And there’s a back story here. Puig remembers it vividly. ‘We were only allowed three colours at launch by the factory, as we weren’t sure how many we would sell,’ he tells CAR.

‘We thought it was appropriate therefore to stick to the colours of the Spanish and German flags. Hence we originally offered the Leon 20VT only in yellow, red and black, as it matched the national identity of this car’s parents.’

An enlightening aside from the man who introduced performance cars to Seat. Doesn’t the launch palette of any new car have a lasting power beyond the mere lifecyle of a new model? We’d argue it certainly does with Seat, more than most.

Click here for CAR magazine’s long-term test of the 20VT’s grandson, the Leon Cupra 280.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet