Car Histories

The Volkswagen Kombi is a utility car that was produced by the German automotive company Volkswagen, between 1950 and 2013. Under a decree, cars from 2014 onwards are required to be fitted with an ABS type brake and use a double front airbag (for the driver and front passenger seat). The old project proved to be incompatible with the new requirements of the legislation. In Brazil, it was manufactured without interruption between September 2, 1957 and December 18, 2013, being practically the oldest car in the country. It is considered a precursor to passenger and cargo vans.

It’s a robust monobloc construction (without chassis), with independent suspension with torsion bars, in addition to the eccentric position of the driver (seated on the front axle and with an almost vertical steering column), and offers low cost maintenance. Its engine is a case in point: although the recent models have more modern engines, for 50 years or the engine that equipped the vehicle in Brazil was the traditional “boxer” with air cooling, simple and very resistant. Such uses normally outperformed the rest of the car, and it is common in Brazilian streets to see cars totally destroyed, but with the engine running perfectly.

Kombinationsfahrzeug means “combined vehicle” (or “multi-use vehicle”, in a more free translation). The concept behind the Kombi emerged in the late 1940s, the idea of the Dutch importer Ben Pon, who noted in his agenda drawings of a type of vehicle previously unheard of, based on a station wagon made on the chassis of the Beetle. The first prototypes had terrible aerodynamics, but rework at the Braunschweig Technical College gave the car, despite its unconventional shape, a better automotive aerodynamics than the initial prototypes with a straight front. Tests were then carried out with the new body mounted directly on the Beetle platform, however, due to the fragility of the resulting car, a new base was designed for the utility, based on the concept of a monoblock chassis. Finally, after three years had passed since the first design, the car hit the streets on March 8, 1950.

The van is one of the most famous symbols of the hippie counterculture since 1960. The Brasmotor group started assembling the car in Brazil in 1953 and from September 2, 1957 its manufacture – which makes the vehicle the first Volkswagen manufactured in Brazil, and the one that has been in production for the longest time.

The Fusca (in Brazil) or Carocha (in Portugal) was the first car model manufactured by the German company Volkswagen. It was the best-selling car in the world, surpassing in 1972 the record that previously belonged to the Ford Model T, of American origin. It was produced until 2003 in Mexico, where it was called the VW Sedan. It was part of a commemorative edition called Ultima Edición, limited to 3,000 cars. The last example marked the end of the 65-year long production of the Beetle, during which 21,529,464 units were manufactured, figures that make it the single most produced model in the world at all times.

The body was made by hand, in a process considerably more expensive than the assembly line used by the Fusca. This was reflected in the price of the car, almost $ 1000 more expensive. Instead of bolted fenders like the Fusca, the body panels were made by hand, with a special alloy and in-line welding. At the time, only the most luxurious cars were built that way, reflecting Volkswagen’s desire to leverage its image with the car.

Due to design commitments, the interior space was not the best, with little legroom in the front, and little height between the backseat and the roof. However the interior was more refined than that of the Fusca, with a protruding panel, white steering wheel with two spokes and a clock. There was a small trunk behind the rear seat, complementing the tiny front compartment.

By using the same platform as the Fusca, the Karmann-Ghia inherited from it all mechanical configurations, such as suspension, gearbox and drum brakes. Using the same engine as the Fusca, the Karmann-Ghia did not exactly offer a sporty performance. Even following the evolution of the Fusca’s engines throughout its production (1500cc and 1600cc), the car relied more on the style and reliability of Volkswagen mechanics to guarantee its sales.

In August 1957 a convertible version was introduced, solving the problem of the rear seat (at least with the top down) and further increasing the car’s appeal.

The Brasília was produced from 1973 until 1982 by Volkswagen do Brasil. Internally defined as model / type “102”, it was designed to combine the robustness of the Volkswagen Fusca, a car renowned on the market, with the comfort of a car with greater internal space and a more contemporary design. It was a small car, with straight lines and a large glass area. This name is a tribute to the very modern city, founded 13 years before with the same name.

The Brasília was one of the first Volkswagen to be designed and built outside the German headquarters, the Brazilian SP2 being the first. The then president of Volkswagen do Brasil, Rudolph Leiding, inspired by the SP2, challenged the brand’s engineers to produce a new version of the Beetle, but adapted to the national market. The model should offer more space, should use the same mechanics, but should appear more contemporary. After a series of prototypes, finally José Vicente Martins and Márcio Piancastelli presented the concept of what the final model would be. Similar to a “mini-Variant”, with a modernized version of the front of this vehicle, it was 2 centimeters smaller than the Beetle, but with the same wheelbase, greater internal space, wide glass front area, satisfactory front trunk and a practical hatchback cover for the rear trunk. The straight body design, with smooth and balanced lines, was innovative at the time. This characteristic privileged a large internal space for passengers, something difficult to find at that time in cars from the Brasília segment.

Gol is a Volkswagen car, designed in Brazil and sold in several countries under different designations, including Mexico and Argentina.

Launched in 1980, the Gol is considered one of the greatest successes of Volkswagen do Brasil of all time. It is also the first and only Brazilian car to surpass the mark of 5 million units produced to date, and is the most exported model in the history of Brazil, with more than 1 million units sold to more than 50 countries, although it has never been marketed in Europe, due to the presence of the Volkswagen Polo, which, despite the high price in Brazil, is in the same segment as the Gol.

The Gol emerged from the need to create a successor to the Beetle after the second half of the 1970s to face other vehicles with modern designs such as Fiat 147 and Chevrolet Chevette. The vehicles produced by the European headquarters did not meet the needs of the Brazilian market due to road conditions and consumer habits, thus requiring a more resistant platform.

The BX project started in May 1975, after Schmidt overcame resistance from the German headquarters.

The name Gol came from the Volkswagen convention to name vehicles associated with sports (Polo, Golf, Derby). Thus, this vehicle adopted a name based on the Brazilian passion for football.

The SP series was a series of sports cars developed by Volkswagen do Brasil for the domestic market, from 1972 to 1976;

In the 1970s, the Brazilian market was closed to imports. The only sports cars officially made here were the Karmann Ghia and its successor, Karmann Ghia TC. Only independent manufacturers have achieved any success, notably Puma and Miura.

Volkswagen’s subsidiary in Brazil has always enjoyed a degree of independence from the German parent company, thanks among other things to the presidency of Rudolf Leiding, who would later be head of the parent company. In 1969 he started an independent project, entirely done in the country, for a light-bodied sports car. A team led by engineer Senor Schiemann started what they called Project X, and presented the prototype (executed by José Vicente Novita Martins, Marcio Piancastelli, Jorge Yamashita Oba and Antonio Carlos Martins) at the German Industry Fair in March 1971. But it would take another year until the car hit the streets.

The SP, the car’s final name, was built on the Variant platform, offered with the same 1600 cc boxer engine, version called SP1, or with a 1700 cc engine, called SP2. The later developed 75 hp, 160 km/h and did 10 km with a liter, and was the version that prevailed on the market.

When the car was introduced, it quickly attracted the attention of the specialized media. It had a refined interior, a high-level finish and many other improvements compared to the VW air cooled line of the time, even superior to the other “sports” Volkswagen at the time, the Karmann Ghia TC.

The SP1 soon went out of production, already at the time of launch. With low performance (only 65 hp in a 1600 engine), it did not please. This problem would come to haunt SP2 as well. In fact, a mean joke at the time said that the acronym “SP” meant “Sem Poder“, ‘no power’ in Portuguese.

It soon became clear that the car, despite its remarkable design, could not defeat the Puma in performance. Although they used a similar engine, the Puma was made of fiberglass, much lighter than the steel used in SP2. This, of course, was reflected in sales, as well as the anachronism of the air cooled engine at the time. The price of the car, pushed upwards due to small-scale production, also did not help (for the price of the car you bought two 1300 Beetles at the time). Thus, the car went out of production in 1976.

With a total of 10,207 units manufactured, the car is now valued as a collector’s item and the prices for a well-preserved example can be quite high.

Derived from the German Typ 3 after the discontinuation of the vw sedan 1600 appeared in 1969, with a horizontal Variant engine with a very similar base that is also used for the variant and the TL.

Both had the same engine as the 1600, but the body style made all the difference. In addition to the small loading area at the front, there was now space in the rear, enlarged by the horizontal engine, which took up much less space (the fan was now mounted on the crankshaft). In the case of Variant, the total cargo space reached 640 liters. The problem of design rejection was solved in 1971, by restyling the front. Both cars gained a lower front and angled inwards. Despite the nickname “catfish head”, the new design found wide acceptance.

The models accumulated good sales in the course of the 70s, and Variant even surpassed in the domestic market Ford Belina, which was much more technologically advanced.

However, despite the success in the Brazilian market and the absence of competitors, the age of the project started to weigh because the similar European project had been in production for approximately 10 years and the VW that already had difficulties in the line of air cooled engines decided to implement the Passat line in 1974 in Brazil which generated an internal competition added with the launch of the VW Brasilia and in this way with just a few more years the line reached the end of the line.

The Voyage is a compact Volkswagen sedan based on the Gol. It was launched in 1981 and was discontinued in 1995, already as a 1996 model, being replaced by Polo Classic.

Voyage follows the trend lines of the 70s, with great similarities between this and other brand cars manufactured in Europe in the 70s, especially with the Jetta I, the mechanical part was that of the Passat.

The GLS version was also launched in 83, which had differentials such as Recaro seats and different fabric lining, a complete panel with contagious, wider rubberized side friezes (replacing the upper frieze in the “waist” line of the LS version) and air conditioning as optional, this version was available with both 2-door and 4-door bodies.

At the end of 1994, Voyage stopped being manufactured in Brazil, being produced only in Argentina. At the end of 1995 Voyage was discontinued. At that time only two versions were produced: the GL 1.8 and the CL. Its replacement, the Polo Classic.

The Santana was an automobile produced by Volkswagen in several countries, derived from the Passat / Audi 80. It was produced in Germany, Spain, South Africa, Japan (under the Nissan brand), Brazil, Nigeria, Mexico, China and Argentina. It is currently produced only in China by Shanghai Volkswagen.

The Santana, in turn, was based on the success of the Passat, which had the mission of presenting to the Brazilian public all the attributes of the Audi / VW water-cooled mechanics. As in Germany, the Santana emerged as a natural evolution of the Passat: it maintained the basic attributes (quality, durability, reliability). In appearance, the Brazilian and German VW Santana were practically the same, with subtle differences in the internal and external finish.

The most striking discrepancy between the two was the option of a 2-door body, which did not exist outside Brazil, and which aimed to meet a specific demand in that country, which harbored a strong prejudice against 4-door vehicles until the end of the 1980s. 1984 to 1995, in the same versions of the 4 doors. Two exclusive versions of this body option were the Sport (1990 and 1993) and the Single Series (1995, the farewell year). In Germany Santana was only manufactured until 1985 (from 1985-1988, it was called Passat).

The name was inspired by a Northeastern vessel that transports passengers and cargo, living up to the functionality of the car. Launched with the Gol’s DNA, the old boxer 1.6 air-cooled engine, a reliable but outdated engine, its competitors were more modern and water-cooled, VW introduced the water-cooled propellant in the 1985 line.

This car was once the best-selling utility vehicle in brazil until it belonged to the Fiat Strada.

It was also manufactured with diesel engines, exclusively for export, Brazilian legislation at the time already prohibited the use of this fuel in passenger vehicles, but allowed in utility vehicles.

Derived from the German Typ 3, in December 1968 Brazil saw the debut of the VW 1600, a three-volume, four-door car with a 1600 cc air motor , installed at the rear.

It accommodated four passengers and took them up to about 135 km / h. The front, unique in the world, had rectangular headlights until 1970, when they were replaced by two round headlights on each side.

The factory supported marketing in the beauty of the car, definitely recognized for its striking shapes. However, at that time the car had limited success, being more popular among taxi drivers. Its rectangular shapes have earned it the curious nickname “Zé do Caixão”, perhaps because of its resemblance to a coffin, or perhaps because it looks like a creation of the famous filmmaker.