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Sunday, June 16, 2013

#293 PILEN/ ARTEC – SEAT 600 and SEAT 131E (Refs. M-335 and M-521) (1974 and 1975)


These two cars are special for me, as I already explained in entries #226 (Seat 600) and  #207 (Seat 131). Curiously, these two models have the exact colours of the cars I knew as a kid.

Being Pilen a Spanish company, it manufactured many reproductions of Seat models in 1:43, some of them in several colours and decals. It is common for Pilen, that the same model in two different decorations has two different reference numbers.

Seat models by Pilen in 1:43: 600, 1600, 124, 127, 131 and 1200.
Seat models by Pilen in 1:64: 131 “variant” and Ritmo.

SEAT 600 (M-335) from 1974:

It is interesting to note, that 1:43 series were a nice mixture of sport cars, prototypes and “normal” cars you could see on the streets, with several decorations each. Specially eye-catching are the “rally” versions, with colourful decals.

On the other side, the 1:64 series was based almost exclusively in ordinary cars, like Seat, Ford or Peugeot, with no sport or prototype vehicles, except this series of F1 that came later.

SEAT 131E (M-521) from 1975:

A last comment on these car models is that, as you can see in the pictures, the Seat 600 comes in a jewel box with a black base instead of the “classic” orange one. This is so, because the model is not the original one from 1974, but a later reedition from the late 80s. Pilen ceased its production in 1983, but only 5 years later, in 1988, the company was reborn with the new name Artec. In the first catalogues from Artec, there is still place for the Pilen logo, meaning that both companies are really the same one, or at least, that Artec is the successor of Pilen.

Artec made many of the older Pilen models, and sold them in black plastic cases, instead of the orange ones. The black colour was associated to the idea of high quality and luxe, because Artec’s 1:43 series was renamed “Serie Oro” (“Gold Series”). Some models were also released as “Serie Oro Luxe”. (“Gold Series Luxe”).

The first of these two was sold in jewel cases like the ones you’re watching here, and often included a golden sticker with the name of the series “serie Oro”. The name of the car also appeared in one long sticker applied in the black part of the box. Together with the reference number and ARTEC.
The "Serie Oro Luxe" was sold in black cardboard boxes with windows decorated with golden stripes and golden logos.

After this series, quality decreased very notably, as we will see some other time.

Despite the black base, logo on sticker, and so on, Pilen logo appears on the box of the Seat 600.

If you want to read more about the history of Pilen, please visit this entry.

  • Name: SEAT 600 and SEAT 131E (Ref. M-335 and M-521)
  • Scale: 1:43
  • Year: 1974 and 1975
  • Company: Pilen / Artec (Spain)
  • Size: approx. approx. 8 to 11 cm


  1. Hello,

    of course those Pilen Seats are very attractive models. In the case of the 600 there is something we should keep in mind: The original Pilen Seat 600 was launched in 1974. It had sparkling headlights, separate red-tinted rearlights and an opening hood showing an engine. Then, in 1976/77 Pilen started to simplify their models. Perhaps there was the reason that Spain was now an open market after Francos death. And due to this they had to spare costs as every other company. From 1977 you could buy those simplier versions. In the eighties AHC/Artec from Holland bought Pilen and many models were relaunched, still keeeping their Pilen trademark. In every case the simplified versions were back on the trade. As i recognise today on eBay, the first version of the Seat 600 seems to be expensive...

  2. Hi Esfera04

    Thanks for your comment, I agree in the things you say. Since I wrote this article there seems to be a new wikipedia article dealing with Auto-Pilen, based on "Bickford's Diecast".

    I will take that in mind for future articles dealing with this brand. I know that the first edition's 600 from Pilen is very expensive, as it is almost any Seat 600 vintage toy (Scalextric, Payá, Pilen...)

    Are you also a die-cast collector?


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