SEAT's sweet smell

of success

SEAT smell testers

THE motor industry encompasses some strange jobs and one of the most bizarre is that of the person making sure that your latest set of wheels has that elusive new car smell.

This post was highlighted by Spanish manufacturer SEAT when it listed sme of the more unusual professions under its umbrella.

The job title is 'car sommelier' and it has nothing to do with wine. But as with wine the most important work instrument is the nose.

These chemists perform more than 400 smell tests every year, exposing cars to temperatures of 60 ÂșC. This profession also places some curious demands on them: they cannot smoke or wear perfume so as not to alter the outcome of test results.

A fascinating and no doubt rewarding job for the dedicated. But when you think back to some of the more unusual car pongs, I think even the experts at SEAT might find replicating them a tall order.

Take the FIAT models of the late 1970s and early 1980s for example. I drove dozens of them and each one smelled like Castrol oil. I never did find out why. And how about some of the expensive British classics of the 1960s. The smell of leather and wood was so British when new, but after tens of thousands of miles with a smoker at the wheel there was sometimes more than a whiff of an old railway carriage.

I was heartened that SEAT is taking that new car smell seriously. It is a first impression when yu get in and can be a deciding factor on your next car.

Other unusual jobs at SEAT include the' car tailor' who hand sews vehicle upholstery patterns, coming up with the best combination of colours and fabrics and hides to suit the personality of each car.

These expert tailors need more than 30 metres of seams to fully upholster an entire car, and their creations are crafted two years in advance.

And what about the seat tester? Thistechnologist shapes the ideal seat. Testers and their teams also have to perform up to 20,000 folding operations for each different type of seat.

The study is exhaustive: they have to find the right foams, fabrics, structure or stitching that will adapt to different body types and external conditions. They also ensure the correct design of headrests to prevent possible neck injuries.

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