Merry Christmas everyone, or as we say in Portuguese, feliz natal!!!! This is quite a special Feijoada Friday: One of the most iconic Brazilian VWs in a very christmas-y red, like Santa’s sleigh!
The Volkswagen Brasília began as a dream of Volkswagen do Brasil’s President, Rudolph Leiding, who wished to design and produce a car to succeed the immensely successful Fusca. It should be a practical and frugal on the fuel consumption, to be a true urban car. With such an immense responsibility (after all, replacing the Fusca was a very tough job), the development of the Brasília was kept in secret. So much secret, in fact, that VW test drivers shot gunfire at Quatro Rodas journalists trying to get some information!
BRASÍLIA - A GUNSHOT TO TRY TO STOP THOSE PHOTOS
To photograph the new VW car almost costed the life of two Quatro Rodas Journalists. Factory bodyguards chased our car during 7 km and, after making us stop, put a revolver at the head of our reporter, broke the photographer’s camera and shot our car. But we saved the photos and they show that the Brasília is very beautiful.
Volkswagen personnel hurt reporter
Bodyguards from an industry attack a journalist
But, in 1973, the Brasília was finally introduced to the public (without gunshot this time). ‘73 was a very busy year, with lots of important new cars - that will be featured at future FFs - like the Chevrolet Chevette, the Ford Maverick and the Dodge 1800. Until the official début, it was called by many names: “mini-variant”, “VW’s mini-wagon” and “anti-Chevette”! In the latter, VW’s president said once they worked very hard to launch the Brasília at the same time as the Chevette to steal GM’s consumers.
It was a nimble car: with only 4m (13.1ft) of lenght, it was a full 17cm (6.7in) shorter than a Fusca! With the third door, it was classified as a small wagon, so it collect much less taxes because it was a “utility” vehicle. As the rest of the aircooled line, the Brasília had those very beautiful grilles on the rear fenders to grab air to the engine. In the back, below the chromed bumper, it has yet another grill, this time for the exhaust silencer. However, it wasn’t rare to see Brasílias with modified exhausts, like this popular 4x1. Just listen at its glory.
It used a 1,600cc 4 cylinder boxer engine, with a single carburettor, sufficient to make 60hp. Since it was a light car, you could easily do 14km/l! It took 23 seconds to do the 0-100 km/h with a top speed of 132 km/h. And, instead of using a already developed chassis like the one from the TL, the Fusca or the Kombi, the Brasília had yet a new chassis, to be later adopted by Puma. It was wider and shorter than the Fusca’s, so it was way more stable at the corners.
It was a huge success. The public loved it, and it sold like popsicles in the summer, as we use to say. In 1975 VW sold 126,000 Brasílias! The next year, ‘76, it got another carburettor, enhancing the power, top speed, acceleration and making it even more frugal on the fuel. With such a successful car, it didn’t needed constant modifications. However, after Fiat launched the immensely successful 147 in november of that year, VW had to win back the lost consumers. The modifications came in the 1978 line, with grilled tail lights, like those of old Mercedes-Benzes, a cover for the glovebox, “wood” trim on the dash and a collapsable steering column.
That year also marked the introduction of the 5-door Brasília on our domestic market, since this version already existed as an export-only. But since Brazilians didn’t liked 4 door cars, it was only adopted by taxists. Curiously, this was exactly the reason no one wanted to buy a 4 door car: Nobody wanted to drive a “taxi”.
In 1980, in the fuel crisis (when the top speed was limited to 80 km/h everywhere and the fuel stations were closed at weekends), VW introduced the top-trim LS version, with a plastic-moulded dash, rev meter, vacuum meter, fuel meter and etc, to help save the scarce fuel.
At the same year the alcohol version was introduced. With a simple 1,300cc engine, it only made 49 hp. But it was sufficient to give it a performance comparable to the gas-powered 1,600cc, since the sugarcane ethanol has a bigger energy density.
And in May, at the same year, the hugely successful VW Gol was launched. Even with the meager performance of the 1,300cc engine, the Gol sold a lot more than the Brasília, and in ‘82, when better engines for it became available, the Brasília production ended. In total numbers, more than a million were produced, with 950k being sold here.
As always, the Brasília sprouted a big family: There was the Variant, the wagon, the TL, a sporty fastback and the VW1600, popularly known as Zé do Caixão (Coffin Joe). All will be featured on future Feijoada Fridays!
One day, when I get time to hone my custom skills, I’ll try to reproduce Ingo Hoffman’s racing Brasília. It looks so cool!
When everybody still likes an idea after one year it’s because it’s a very good idea.
Extraced from an opinion poll with future Brasília buyers:
“Yep, at the first chance I change my car for a Brasília. I liked that idea of building a car from the inside out”
“I think the Brasília is divine. I already put the idea of buying one at my husband’s head”
“As Einstein said, every great idea is a simple idea”
“Iem tired of getting tired on the traffic. The Brasília is ideal to escape from it, to maneuver and to park”
“My only problem is being timid. On the Brasília the glass area is so big, everyone looks at me”
“Looks like an European idea”
Date of the poll: One week after the Brasílias launch. Now you can update those results with your family and friends. But we’re warning you: Everyone still thinks the Brasília is a great idea.
Brasília. No better idea appeared yet.
To make a successful car you need beforehand a new and cool idea. The Brasília conception results in a car of ideal proportions on the relation between the internal space and external size. This signifies more comfort tothe driver and to whoever travels on the big rear seat.
Its modern and attractive lines were projected to be always updated. The Brasília was created here, for the traffic conditions you face every day. It is a robust, safe and durable car, with all the advantages of the Volkswagen engine you know for long: perfect conjugation of performance, great fuel economy, low maintenance costs and full technical assistance from north to south of the country.
And as the best investments are also born from the best ideas, the Brasília, after many years of use, has the highest resell value on the market.
The immensely successful Brazilian rock group Mamonas Assassinas wrote a song about a yellow Brasília. All their songs were very funny, and this isn’t different!
Your hair is amazing,
Your body is a guitar,
You’re leaving me crazy
My yellow Brasília²
Is with open doors,
To we be able to love ourselves,
Naked in Santos
Cuz you’re my love
You let me feel well,
I don’t feel lonely,
You’re my pumpkin!
Music is very good! (Oh man, ay, ay, ay!)
But with me she don’t wanna marry me,
In my yellow Brasília with gaucha³ wheel
She doesn’t wanna enter.
Beans with payola,
The whore doesn’t wanna share.
But she’s pretty,
Much more than pretty,
Very, very beautiful!
You let me crazy!!!
Music is very hardcore (Oh man, Paraguay!)
To paraguay she doesn’t wanna travel
I bought a Reebok and pants Fiorucci
She doesn’t wanna use.
I don’t know what I do
To have this woman to me.
Because she’s pretty,
Much more than pretty,
Very, Very beautiful!
You let me crazy!!!
Eu te* I love youuuuuuu!
(Wait cuz’ have a bit more of “u”)
¹ = Santos is a Brazilian City, ² = An old car, ³ = Something that came from Rio Grande do Sul, a Brazilian state, * = A Portuguese:English mix