Although it began being assembled in Brazil in 1953, being shipped disassambled from Germany, it was only in 1957 that it was truly made here, when VW opened their Brazilian factory.
This first version, the T1, is called corujinha, or little owl in English. It isn’t hard to see why, the marked detail on the front that characterizes the T1s look a lot like an owl’s beak, with the split windows being its eyes.
The first Brazilian Kombis used the 1200cc air cooled engine, way too weak for a car that was built for hauling cargo. However, this engine kept struggling until 1967, when it was exchanged for a 1500cc unit.
In 1961 they began producing the 6 door version. It’s tremendously rare, because it was very expensive, and people viewed the Kombis as work vehicles, not luxury cars. Also, as far as I know, it’s a Brazilian-only version!
Finally, in ‘63 it got an extra window on that rear panel, enhancing the visibility. The corujinha model was produced until 1976, when the clipper, or T2, was released.
Stay tuned for the next episode!