Sbarro Espera Leon coupé, 2001


Not so long ago, SEAT was just a synonym for Fiat. They didn’t produce anything outstanding: although there were a few “SEAT only” models. But in the 80’s SEAT was absorbed by VAG. After a period of assimilation, it evolved into the sporty side of the group: a sort of Hispanic Alfa Romeo. The Leon, brought out in 1999, embodied this theme especially with the amazing Cupra model and its V6 motor.


Sbarro has already worked with some of the big names: Alfa Romeo, Citroën, VW, Renault, Matra…It’s not a new methodology to him. It forces his Espera students to be creative within the guidelines imposed by the car manufacturer. Giving them excellent practical projects, and an immediate application of Franco Sbarro’s teaching.


Here was the design brief: create a coupé using the Leon 1.8, 20 valve as a basis while maintaining the characteristics of the marque. The result is what you see before you: fulfilling the requirements of SEAT and beyond…


n the past Sbarro’s students have repositioned the motor. The normally front wheel drive Leon has become mid-engined. This same engine reconfiguration was also done to a Mégane within the four walls of Espera. History repeats itself!


From a technical point of view, the engine, a turbocharged four cylinder, has been mounted on a sub-frame in place of the rear seat and coupled to a transmission sourced from an Audi A6 Quattro. Some standard tuning procedures have raised the power 30 BHP to 210 BHP.


The original rear hatch has been replaced with a small vertical rear window behind the front seats and a horizontal engine cover with two louvered vents; reminiscent of the Dino 246, the 308 etc..This remodelling has resulted in the rear of the car being widened by 20 cm to 192 cm. Large lateral air intakes ensure an adequate supply of fresh air to the motor. A big effort has been made to respect the styling of the original Leon with beautiful effect. One could be forgiven for believing that the car rolled off the Spanish factories’ production lines.


hrown into the mix are a few classic tuning modifications: 18 inch AEZ alloys shod with 225/40 ZR’s upfront and 245/40 ZR’s on the rear; A Césam exhaust system with four tailpipes; a small adjustable rear spoiler and a rear tie-brace in the form of a tubular trellis. The interior is stock except for the disappearance of the rear seats.


Unveiled at the Essen Motor Show at the end of 2001, this Leon coupé would make a lot of sports car enthusiasts seriously happy. Unfortunately there’s hardly any chance of seeing this concept car put into production. What a crying shame!


text Philippe Calvet - translation Justin Bouverie




  Sbarro Seat Leon Coupé (2001)


4 in-line


transverse mid-engined


1781 cc ( 81 x 86,4 mm)


5 valves/cyl., turbo


210 BHP


rear wheel drive


6 speed manual


4 vented discs


front : 225/40 ZR 18 Yokohama ; rear : 245/40 ZR 18 Yokohama


AEZ 8,5 x 18


front width : 1,72 m ; rear width : 1,92 m


one off



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