Wednesday 22 October 2014
he Volkswagen Brasilia is a compact car made in Brazil between 1973 and 1982.
The Brasilia (named after Brazil's capital city) looked like a smaller version of the Volkswagen 412 Variant, but was in fact based on the Volkswagen Beetle. It was developed by Volkswagen do Brasil (Volkswagen of Brazil), which had at the time a unique and somewhat exotic line of cars, which spawned such rarities as the SP2. The Brasilia was equipped with the Volkswagen air-cooled engine from the Beetle.
In September 1970, Volkswagen of Brazil's president, Rudolf Leiding, made a challenge for the company's major designers. He wanted to recreate the Beetle but with a Brazilian flair and with the Brazilian market in mind. At that time, the Beetle, the Bus and the Karmann-Ghia were the only air-cooled VWs that proved successful in Brazil. For Leiding, the new Volkswagen should be practical, economical and larger than the Beetle.
In three months, more than 40 prototypes were made, most of them with bold designs, with wide, inclined windshields. But the prototypes were expensive and VW was looking for a new cheap car, to compete with the brand new Chevette, from Chevrolet.
When the final design was ready and the car was to be put in production, a then unknown automotive reporter successfully spotted some of the vehicles in trial runs in the factory's vicinity. After failed attempts to drive the reporter away, some security personnel fired against his car, triggering a minor commotion in the Brazilian media. The publicity triggered an official apology from Volkswagen and boosted the sales of the magazine which brought the photographs (Quatro Rodas) as well as the career of the reporter, (Cláudio Larangeira), who was immediately hired by Quatro Rodas.
Sales began in 1973, and the production model featured a front end much like the German 412, and the back resembled a scaled-down Brazilian Variant Type 3. It was also the first Brazilian hatchback with five doors, but this version, however, was produced in a small proportion.
The total production of VW Brasilias reached over one million vehicles. Some were exported to Chile, Portugal, Bolivia, Perú, Ecuador, Venezuela, Paraguay, Uruguay, the Philippines, and starting in March 1976, in CKD kits of the 5-door to Nigeria, where it was renamed Igala. The only other country in which the Brasilia was assembled, was Mexico, where it was produced between 1974 and 1982.
- engine: 4 cylinders
- capacity: 1300 cc
- horsepower: 49 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 140 km/h