The development of motor vehicles and their mass production and consumption during the first decades of the twentieth century had significant economic and social effects. The developed Atlantic countries, world leaders in vehicle production, were the protagonists of the success of the car. However, the globalization brought about by the second industrial revolution drew in other countries on the periphery, thanks to transport technologies, telecommunications, and the media. Thus, the consumption patterns and lifestyles of the ‘centres’ and the ‘peripheries’ tended to become more uniform, especially among the urban population. This included an interest in travelling and leisure activities in general. The link between the use of motor vehicles and new tourism practices in Spain between 1918 and 1939 provides an excellent viewpoint from which both to analyse the country's economic and social transformation during this period and to relativize the degree of backwardness observed in Spain in other studies. In this respect, we provide evidence which shows that, despite being a country of the so-called European periphery, Spain had similar patterns of consumption of durable consumer goods, such as the motor vehicle, as other, more advanced countries. There is therefore room to reconsider what has been termed ‘Spanish backwardness’.