Variety, Quality Control Blues, and a Classic, Too!
By John-William Greenbaum
Before visiting the Brazilian Volkswagens and DKW-Vemags that some have expressed interest in from the first article, we’ll take a look at the five models that have been released since my last article in the order in which they were released. This means we’re going to examine the flawed 1991 Chevrolet Ipanema two-door estate, the crisp 1991 Volkswagen Gol GTi three-door hatchback, the spectacular 1961 DKW-Vemag Candango 4 4×4, the instant classic 1961 Chevrolet Amazona carryall, and the sharp 1975 Dodge Charger R/T Coupe, which is sadly the last MOPAR planned for the collection if we don’t count the Simca Jangada estate wagon that was produced at a time when Chrysler did own a sizeable stake in Simca. My perspective on this is that while we got wonderful variety, only one of the cars, the DKW-Vemag Candango, arrived without any issues from the manufacturer. My supplier is not to blame. Quite the opposite! I am extremely happy to report that there was no travel damage to any of these models and that any parts rattling loose in the box were not his fault.
The first model that I received proved something of a bad omen for how the four succeeding it would arrive, and that was the 1991 Chevrolet Ipanema two-door estate wagon. In a way, I’m actually somewhat glad that this model took a while for my supplier to locate in reasonable condition. After we saw the 1989 Chevrolet Marajó 1.6 SLE that was effectively the predecessor of the Ipanema just two issues before it, I’m not entirely sure how I would have received it and would likely have found myself repeatedly comparing it to the Marajó as well as repeatedly giving the Marajó higher marks.
Initial impressions of the Ipanema seemed to be fairly solid. As you might guess from the photos, it’s little more than a rebadged Opel Kadett Caravan E. Powered by a 1,800 cubic centimeter or 2,000 cubic centimeter four-cylinder engine, its introduction was timed fairly oddly. Just as the Kadett E was being taken out of production in Germany, it was being introduced onto the Brazilian market in the form of the Chevrolet Kadett—a car you’ll see in my next article—and the Ipanema. Both the Chevy Kadett and Chevy Ipanema were released in September of 1989, but cars manufactured that year are 1990 models. The Ipanema was produced until 1996 in both two-door and four-door versions, although the four-door Ipanema is less common and was only manufactured from 1993-1996. As such, although two Chevrolet compact two-door estate wagons in three issues may seem repetitive, it also represents each real car much better.
One of the big surprises when the car was first announced was its colour: a high gloss, satin black. Although this was available on the real car, white and pale grey were far more common. Given how surprisingly few white cars we’ve seen in this partwork, I don’t think it would have detracted in any way. The hubcaps were also of an aftermarket type, albeit a common aftermarket type, so I’m really unable to complain about them. We also didn’t get the infamous chromed plastic hubcaps that seemed to bedevil some of the previous issues. Therefore, I had rather high hopes for this model in spite of a number of factors. Unfortunately, I’m sorry to say that it let me down.
The real problem with the 1991 Chevy Ipanema was that it almost seemed as if Planeta DeAgostini didn’t care. When reports started streaming in of these models as Brazilian collectors were finding them, it was very easy to form the opinion that Planeta DeAgostini just ordered the absolute minimum amount of work done by Ixo, didn’t pay attention to quality control at all, and wanted to churn out the model and move along to the next one.
The model’s actual flaws, as far as physical flaws go, are quite strange. While there are Chevrolet badges on the bonnet and boot of the car, there’s absolutely no other badging whatsoever! There’s nothing saying ‘Ipanema’ or ‘Chevrolet’ or anything to indicate what engine is under the bonnet. Furthermore, if you’ll notice, there are two decorative strips that ran the length of the car’s body and covered the doors. On the real wagon, these were made of black plastic. On the model, they’re moulded metal. I suppose that explains the car’s black colour. However, as far as problems go, we’ve really only just begun.
Although I spoke of physical flaws inherent to the design, what I’ve not mentioned yet are the model’s rampant quality control woes. I don’t say it lightly, but this model just might have had the worst quality control of any model in the entire partwork to date. The metal-to-plastic parts fit on this model was just appalling. If you’ll notice the enormous gap between the grille and the front of the bonnet, that was something that, while not inherent to the model’s design, was certainly on just about every model to varying degrees. The headlights, rear bumper, and rear wiper blade are also almost universally ill-fitting, although not to the egregious degree of the front bumper. With a little bit of work, each of these latter three can be corrected. I chose to photograph my own model before I performed this work, however, just to give you an idea of what to expect. My particular model also featured a rear suspension that sat entirely too high, although simply unscrewing the base and reinserting it at a slightly different angle solved the problem without any need of an XActo knife or a file.
The Ipanema was an enormous disappointment. Most disappointing about it was that it really did have potential. Had the badges been applied correctly, had the plastic trim been, well, plastic, and had proper quality control been observed, I would actually think fairly highly of this model. It has nicely done wing mirrors with actual reflective surfaces, more realistic wheels, a nifty roof rack, nice interior detail, correct headlights, correct taillights, correct turn signals, and in my opinion, it’s a handsome, working man’s family car that could have well-represented the unspectacular-but-steady Chevy Ipanema quite nicely. However, the notion that they just didn’t care was the sense I got when looking at this model. Unless you’re a diehard Chevrolet collector, I can’t recommend this model. There’s too much wrong with it and even if you are willing to overlook the problems in the model’s accuracy, you’ll likely have difficulty swallowing the dreadful quality control. On the positive side, if you’re really willing to put a lot of money and work into it, I believe the Chevrolet Kadett grille is interchangeable, which would solve the grille fit problems.
Photograph One: The 1991 Chevrolet Ipanema seemed promising, but due to severe issues with quality control and sloppy styling, was one of the poorest models in the partwork.
Photograph Two: The 1991 Chevrolet Ipanema wasn’t completely without merit as a model, but if you’d like to try your hand at correcting the errors, serious refitting of the plastic parts will have to be done.
The next model was, mercifully, a marked improvement over the horrid Ipanema. The Volkswagen Gol GTi only really had one serious error. The display plinth called it a 1989 Volkswagen Gol Gti but one can clearly see by looking at some period advertisements that the car they modelled is a 1991 Volkswagen Gol GTi, and a very nice one at that. The sport version of Brazil’s Gol supermini, the Gol GTi was a hot hatch, and indeed one might say a very hot hatch given its tiny size: really not much bigger than a Mini Cooper. Featuring a 2,000 cubic centimeter four-cylinder engine of the kind found in the Volkswagen Santana saloon, the Gol GTi was capable of reaching a top speed of well over 115 mph! It also certainly wasn’t short in the brake horsepower department, either, putting out over 112bhp. Finally, it was the first car ever sold in Brazil with an electronic fuel injection system. Competing against the larger Ford Escort XR3, the Gol GTi generally sold better thanks to price as well as the fact that the car was unique to Brazil. If you were torn between the two cars and were feeling somewhat patriotic, you might have gone for the Gol GTi.
Released in 1989, there were minor improvements each model year to keep it competitive. The wing mirrors and turn signals changed slightly from 1989 to 1990 and again in 1991. The car kept on changing in small ways until 1994, when it was discontinued to make way for the Gol’s second generation, which continued the Gol GTi in a radically different form. As such, while the car is close to being a 1989 model, it’s not quite there. However, this didn’t detract from it for me. In fact, even the reintroduction of the shiny wheels didn’t bother me, as they somehow seem to suit a hot hatch model. What bothered me, and which you can hopefully see in the pictures, were the wing mirrors. The actual design is perfectly fine and features the nice reflective surfaces that were absent for such a long stretch in the partwork. However, again, quality control failed in two different respects. For the driver’s side wing mirror, we see an unacceptable amount of mould flash. This was carefully remedied with an XActo knife after the photograph was taken, but I did want a potential buyer of this model to see what they might be getting into. Worse still was the passenger side wing mirror. See how it’s flipped upward a bit? It simply wasn’t glued on correctly. Using my old friend the XActo knife, I was however able to poke it out from the inside and simply re-glue it on at the proper angle. I was happily surprised at the lack of glue stains when it went in correctly, but I am of the belief that when one purchases a model, that you shouldn’t need to perform work on it to get it into presentable condition! Fortunately, when everything went back together, the model turned out wonderfully. This is a car I really don’t have any qualms about recommending warts and all, although some more discerning collectors might be bothered by the roof-mounted antenna. I wasn’t, but I certainly know that some collectors really don’t like an antenna of any kind unless made of fine wire. However, consider that the real Gol GTi’s antenna was fairly thick, and this really becomes a non-issue. All in all, it was quite the lift after receiving such a horrid model in the Chevrolet Ipanema.
Photograph One: The 1991 Volkswagen Gol GTi three-door hatchback is a nice addition to the collection and complements the Ford Escort XR3 seen earlier in the partwork very nicely as a hot hatch
Photograph Two: The 1991 Volkswagen Gol GTi came with some problems on the wing mirrors that were fortunately very easy to solve and comes with a high recommendation.
The next model I received will look very familiar to some readers as something that looks very close to, if not absolutely identical to, a DKW Munga. It’s actually a bit more civilianized with proper rear bumpers and running boards in addition to a slightly different front grille: the DKW-Vemag Candango. There were actually two models of this Jeep-like vehicle: the Candango 2 and the Candango 4. The former vehicle actually had only front-wheel drive, while the latter, as its name would indicate, did indeed have all-wheel drive. Much like the DKW Munga, the DKW-Vemag Candango featured a three-cylinder, two-stroke engine. While markedly simple to work on and tune, this design did have a few problems, the most severe of which was how hard the petrol/two-stroke oil mixture was on the engine. It also wasn’t particularly powerful and in a country where Willys Overland do Brasil was building and selling Jeeps, that was certainly working against it.
The Candango did have its market niche, however. Introduced in 1958 and named for the workers—called candangos—who built Brazil’s capital city of Brasilia, DKW-Vemag hoped to cut into the Jeep’s market with something both affordable and proven. Simultaneously, they hoped to attract the attention of the Brazilian Army. The West German Bundeswehr was after all using the DKW Munga as a Jeep-like vehicle with some success. Unfortunately, by focusing on pure off-roaders as their intended target audience, the Candango’s performance on pavement really left a great deal to be desired and necessitated the introduction of the Candango 2. A third model, which is generally considered to be the rarest, was DKW-Vemag’s only foray into the luxury 4×4 market. Called the DKW-Vemag Praiano, it featured no doors and a canvas awning for a roof, a bit like a Fiat 600 Jolly on anabolic steroids. In spite of its repeatedly-trumpeted strong and simple construction, the Candango itself had some difficulty selling when pitted against the Jeep. Still, DKW-Vemag was quite determined to sell the vehicle to the Brazilian Army. When it finally became clear that they had little to no interest in the Candango, DKW-Vemag halted production in 1963, with the Munga being produced in Germany until 1968.
As for the model of the DKW-Vemag Candango, it did certainly have the fact that it had no defects going for it! After repairing two models in a row, I was ready for one that looked fine right out of the box. In spite of moulded-on wiper blades, the pale green DKW-Vemag Candango model really did look like both Planeta DeAgostini and Ixo alike cared about this model when making it. Featuring excellent parts fit, realistic green hubcaps with chrome hubs, detailed rotary locks for the bonnet, detailed badging, and one of the best canvases I’ve seen Ixo do on any of their models, it loses nothing in the realism department. We’re also treated to wing mirrors with reflective surfaces, which would indicate to me that they’ve finally figured that problem out. They also avoided a potential problem area that I admit to being worried about, and that was the headlights. I figured I would likely see my share of bent and broken stalks for the headlights, but this was neither the case for me nor for most of the Brazilian collectors, who had nothing but glowing reports about the DKW-Vemag Candango. Indeed, reports from collectors of the partwork in Brazil suggest that the Candango seemed like a model where Planeta DeAgostini and Ixo had finally turned a corner and put better quality control measures into place. Likewise, we hoped we’d finally be seeing some of the excellent details that the Candango sported, such as the meticulously-done stamped steel, the badging, and that excellent canvas top replete with doors on future models. Well, we were half right.
Photograph One: The 1961 DKW-Vemag Candango 4×4 represents one of the nicest models to date in Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil. Highly-detailed, the real car was related to the DKW Munga.
Photograph Two: The 1961 DKW-Vemag Candango 4×4 also represents the only model I got that wasn’t in any way defective, unfortunately, of the new models reviewed in this edition’s article.
The 1961 Chevrolet Amazona carryall was a truly fantastic vehicle to model. Ixo probably knew this, and therefore loaded it with wonderful details. For those wondering, the Chevy Amazona was something of a local equivalent to the famed, American Chevy Suburban. Like the Suburban, the Amazona was based on an older pickup design: the 1958 Chevrolet 3100 Picape. One can clearly tell that this model is indeed based on the superb 1958 Chevy 3100 Picape that we previously saw in Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil. Unlike the Suburban, however, the Amazona featured an asymmetrical body design. On the driver’s side, the Amazona had one door up front, much like the American Suburban. On the passenger side, however, a rear door was added just aft of the B-pillar. Recreated very faithfully and in stunning detail on the model, a folding gas cap cover sits opposite the passenger door, just as it did on the real Amazona. We also get a rear door at the back. Unsurprisingly, the Amazona and the 3100 Picape shared the same engine: at first, the famous 235 cubic inch Thriftmaster inline six, but more usually, the 261 Jobmaster inline six, which was also used to power a number of Canadian Pontiacs during the late 1950s.
The Amazona was eventually replaced in 1964 by the four-door Chevy Veraneio, which the partwork has also featured and done a fantastic job on. The reason for the Amazona’s replacement was simple: it was just getting old. Newer model Chevrolet C-10 pickups were being built in Brazil that put out more horsepower and provided a more realistic vehicle for use as an SUV rather than simply a large estate wagon, and that SUV was the Veraneio (although I have heard the Veraneio referred to as a ‘station wagon’). Chrome details are tastefully and convincingly tampo-printed on or alternately added in plastic. Although I know some collectors aren’t big fans of chrome plastic, give the Chevy Amazona a chance. It surprised me how well they did the chrome.
The early Chevrolet do Brasil logo is also present. You may recall this from the 1958 Chevy 3100 Picape, but if you don’t, it’s the Chevrolet logo in black on a red background with a yellow-coloured outline of the country of Brazil superimposed over the Chevrolet logo. It’s actually quite handsome!
As is historically correct, the vehicle is only badged as a ‘Chevrolet’ with no other markings. Although I believed this at first to be an error, examining real Amazonas revealed that they too lacked any badging beyond the marque. I should take the time to note that this is the post-mid 1962 model of the Amazona. Pre-mid 1962 Amazonas featured the exact same double headlight, old-style grille arrangement found on the 1958 Chevy 3100 Picape. I suppose if someone really wanted to, since I did examine both models in detail to make sure this was possible, they could convert their Amazona to looking like the 1960 or 1961 model by cannibalizing a spare 1958 Chevy 3100 Picape. It would be hard on the wallet, but mechanically quite easy. We’ve not dealt with custom models before, but I imagine someone could easily do several for their own Code 3 line, provided they had deep pockets or alternately a friend in Brazil. With all that said, I personally prefer the Amazona just as Ixo did it.
But I did mention that the Candango was the only model without any problems at all, didn’t I? Sure enough, when I opened the box, the left rear tyre was rattling around and the wing mirror had been glued in facing downward! Although I’m not going to complain about the tyre that took me literally seconds to pop back onto the wheel, poking out yet another wing mirror to glue it back on at the correct angle was quite annoying. Although I’ve told you I usually leave my models alone before photographing them for you, this is the Amazona as I repaired it, at least for the most part. What looks like sloppily-applied paint on the rear of the roof was actually a strange, glue-like material that I carefully removed with a tissue after photographing the model. I’m still unsure as to what it is, but rest assured that if you buy an Amazona, it won’t give you any problem.
The one and only error relating to the Amazona that I found quite strange was that both Planeta DeAgostini and Ixo alike got the carryall’s name wrong. Indeed, such an error was unprecedented. The car is billed as the ‘Chevrolet Amazonas’ on the display plinth, the bottom of the car, and on the decorative nameplates where the number plates would ordinarily be. Strangely enough, the magazine that came with the Amazona (a good one, I may add!) called it by its correct name of ‘Amazona’. After examining close to a dozen Chevrolet do Brasil advertising brochures, I could find no mention of the carryall as an ‘Amazonas’ and am unsure as to where the name originates. Really though, I think I’m nitpicking about that being an error since it doesn’t hurt the model itself. However, if you happen to know the origin of the ‘Amazona/Amazonas’ name confusion, please send an email to the editor. He’ll forward it to me and you’ll get to read about it in my next article!
Photograph One: The 1962 Chevrolet Amazona carryall promises to be a hit both in and out of Brazil owing to its unique styling. Recalling the American Chevy Suburban, I can certainly see American collectors having a place for it on their shelves.
Photograph Two: Although those appear to be paint defects on the 1962 Chevy Amazona’s roof, they were actually globs of a strange, glue-like substance that fortunately washed right off. Also repaired was the wing mirror, which was installed facing downwards.
The Amazona was an extremely tough act to follow by anyone’s standards, though, and I think Planeta DeAgostini and Ixo wisely released a very nice model from a completely different automotive genre: the 1975 Dodge Charger R/T. For those not familiar with the term ‘R/T’ stands for ‘Road/Track’. I know some American observers might take a look at this car and say, aloud, ‘that’s a gussied-up Dodge Dart!’ Well, yes and no. It is a lot closer to the 1969 Dodge Dart GT than an American 1969 Dodge Charger R/T, which of course had the famous 440 cubic inch RB Magnum V8 engine. However, I’m willing to bet that these are the same Americans who typically swoon at the sight of an Australian Chrysler Valiant Charger with a Hemi Six-Pack under the bonnet. The Brazilian Charger R/T was far, far more powerful. Sporting a 318 cubic inch V8, performance was similar to the older Dart GT. Offering 215 brake horsepower, it was certainly a match for the Chevrolet Opala SS and came close to matching the Ford Maverick GT. However, for whatever reason, the car just never caught the same spotlight that the Opala SS and Maverick GT did. Someone told me this was because of MOPAR’s more limited presence in Brazil, but a more likely reason was simple marketing. The Charger R/T was a fairly exclusive car in Brazil and although a very potent pony car, Chrysler do Brasil didn’t give it the racing focus that Chevrolet gave the Opala SS and Ford gave the Maverick GT.
The Brazilian Charger R/T was quite a sight to behold. Featuring an imposing, indigenously-designed grille, it features two fake hood scoops, a swept-back vinyl hardtop, blackout stripes, twin tailpipes, and large chrome bumpers. It certainly looked the part of a powerful, high-end pony car. It also really did have gleaming hubcaps, so I’m most certainly not going to criticize their inclusion on this model. Another nice feature given to us by Ixo is the detailing found on the gas cap. It’s not really something that pops out at you, but if you look for it, you will find it, and those ‘little touches’ are always details that I love on any model. The grille also looks much nicer than that seen on the Dodge Dart Gran Sedan that we saw previously in Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil. The actual grille bars brilliantly tampo-printed onto clear pieces of plastic are much thinner and the plastic backing is made of chromed plastic. In short, that means we can see the headlights behind the grille. A wonderfully-done ‘DODGE’ badge also appears on one of these clear grille panels. Although I didn’t really get that good of a picture of it, and I did try, the central divider between the two grille panels is also beautifully done. For any MOPAR fan, especially a Dart or Charger aficionado, I would call this car a must, especially if you like the Australian Chargers that we’ve mostly seen from Trax Models. Sadly, this is the last real MOPAR that’s been announced for Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil, and I’m really hoping that in a possible extension, we get to see some cars like the 1979 Dodge Magnum, 1981 Dodge Dart Coupe, and 1975 Dodge Polara, but for now, they remain unfortunate omissions. Still, if it came down to any one of those models and the Charger R/T, I would take the Charger R/T every time.
Unfortunately, I once again find myself harkening back to the Candango being the only model I didn’t have to work on. There were two problems with the Dodge Charger R/T that I received. The first was quite minor: a strange black streak on the driver’s side of the car that washed off with moist tissue. It almost appeared to be the work of a felt-tip pen and was so bizarre that I decided to leave it on when I photographed it! A much more serious problem was the left grille panel. It was rattling around the box with no glue attaching it to the car at all. There were no glue stains or even stickiness where you might expect. The car just did not have the grille panel glued on at any point! Naturally, a dab of wood glue on the end of a toothpick solved this very quickly and nicely as you can see in the photo, but I’m really getting tired of the defects. Although I highly recommend this model, it’s high time that Planeta DeAgostini and Ixo shape up regarding quality control. Before writing this article, I did get the assurance of my supplier that the next model in the partwork, the Chevrolet Kadett three-door hatchback, had no defects, and it is due at my door within the span of a few days, so I suppose had time been a little bit more on my side, I’d have gotten another problem-free model. At this point, though, I’d like to see more than just the Chevy Kadett regarding whether or not Planeta DeAgostini and Ixo can pull their acts together regarding adequate quality control. Time will tell and being an optimist about this collection as well as one who is handy with a screwdriver, XActo knife, and glue, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed.
Photograph One: Although American collectors will doubtless recognize a 1968 or 1969 Dodge Dart GT when they see one, the Brazilian 1975 Dodge Charger R/T really was a potent pony car.
Photograph Two: The defects that came with the Dodge Charger R/T’s model included one of the grille panels not glued into place, which I’ve fixed for this photo, and what appeared to be a streak of dried, industrial-strength felt-tipped pen, which I removed after snapping this photo.
As promised earlier, I said I would focus on Volkswagen do Brasil and DKW-Vemag products featured prior to this series of articles, and which I could only briefly touch upon in my first article. Specifically, these are the 1961 Volkswagen Fusca (Beetle) two-door saloon, 1962 Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia coupe, 1965 DKW-Vemag Belcar four-door saloon, 1984 Volkswagen Gol, 1976 Volkswagen Kombi T2 minibus, 1975 Volkswagen Brasilia three-door hatchback, 1969 Volkswagen Variant two-door estate wagon, 1973 Volkswagen SP2 coupe, 1975 Volkswagen Passat B1, 1972 Volkswagen 1600TL two-door fastback saloon, 1985 Volkswagen Fusca (Beetle) two-door saloon, 1962 DKW-Vemag Vemaguet two-door estate wagon, and the 1957 Volkswagen Kombi 1200 minibus. Thirteen models might seem like a lot to digest in one sitting, but I’ve actually covered these in some detail before so will not go into great detail. For example, if you go back to Part II of this series of articles, I covered the Volkswagen SP2 in some detail. It was a failed sports car that Ixo actually modeled better, proportionally, than Neo did! I also looked at both the Karmann-Ghia and the ’85 Fusca in my first article and noted that they were exceptionally poor models. The Karmann-Ghia simply being the German version of the car with Brazilian-style bumpers and the ’85 Fusca being a Frankenstein creation of two entirely different cars mashed up together! For the histories of those cars, please go to the appropriate articles.
One model that I’d really like to cover and haven’t done yet is the pale blue 1961 Volkswagen Fusca, which the English-speaking world knows as the Volkswagen Beetle. Not only was this model terrifically detailed, but it also, for once, avoided being the European Beetle that we see so much of in 1/43 scale. Rather, the Fusca is the same car that was sold in North American markets in the US, Canada, and Mexico as well. Because it has no special or country-specific ‘Fusca’ badging, I would highly recommend this model to anyone interested in American imports. If you’re having trouble finding it, you can get the same car in a deep red from the Colombian Carros mas Queridos partwork or the Chilean Carros Nuestros Queridos partwork. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to get it for under $40, shipping included!
With the plum-coloured 1965 DKW-Vemag Belcar four-door saloon, I had quite a discussion about this car with several people interested in it on the discussion forums at diecast.org. At first, someone wanted to know what the name meant, and I came to find out that it was a portmanteau of ‘beautiful car’ in Portuguese. It was initially offered as the DKW-Vemag 1000, but the name changed in 1960. The name change, I found, has led to a little bit of confusion between early Belcars, 1000s, and German F-94s. The Belcar is very similar to, but not identical to, the DKW F-94. For example, the 1965 model has indigenously-designed front and rear bumpers and has undergone something of a facelift. Earlier Belcar models, although not all 1000 models, featured distinctive front bumpers of the kind seen on the 1962 DKW-Vemag Vemaguet model. One very quick and sure way to tell a Brazilian DKW-Vemag 1000 from a DKW F-94 is to look at the boot lid. If you’ve got chrome ‘stripes’ down the lid, then your car is most likely German. On the other hand, if your boot lid is smooth and relatively undecorated, odds are you’re looking at a 1000. The Belcar was a competitor with the Fusca before Volkswagen bought DKW-Vemag, and it really did offer better internal space and two extra doors. Unfortunately, it also had the infamous three-cylinder, two-stroke engine that I discussed at length in my previous article and which I even wrote a bit about when I covered the Candango. Again, the petrol/two-stroke oil mixture was just too hard on the engine. This was an area where the Fusca really outclassed the Belcar and, one could argue, ultimately beat it.
Although unspectacular the beige 1984 Volkswagen Gol three-door hatchback, which was billed as the Volkswagen Gol BX by Planeta DeAgostini and Ixo due to its BX platform, was a truly superb model when it came to representing the real car. The importance of the Gol and the BX platform is that it displaced not only the Volkswagen Brasilia three-door hatchback, but the Volkswagen Fusca as well. The Gol was developed during a time of severe oil crisis in Brazil specifically for the Brazilian market. At this time Brazil had imposed its strictest ever tariffs on automotive imports in order to save the local auto industry. That the Gol emerged at all from this situation, to say nothing of evolving into Volkswagen’s most successful front engined supermini, is truly a tribute to its designers. The average Brazilian with some knowledge of his or her country’s automotive history is generally fairly proud of the Gol, and certainly has a right to be. Much like the Chevrolet Chevette, it succeeded in becoming a car sold in various forms, in China, Mexico, the United States (the Volkswagen Fox saloon), Russia, Egypt, and Iran, and is not merely a car restricted to the Brazilian market, although for obvious reasons, it remains tremendously popular there.
With the 1976 Volkswagen Kombi T2 Minibus, we’re not just seeing a really nice, really detailed, really faithful model. We’re seeing all that as applied to a vehicle that was produced in Brazil from December of 1976 to December of 2013. The model also features a completely different casting from the mould we’re used to seeing Ixo use for its European T2, and really, it is quite an upgrade. One of the first things you’ll notice when you pick up this blue, white-trimmed minibus model is that it actually looks quite different from the European models or the US models offered by Premium Classixx. This is a model of what I believe to be Brazil’s ultimate cult vehicle. If a collector is looking for the ‘national car’ of a given country, then the Brazilian T2 is an obvious choice. It’s made even more obvious by the fact that the exact same model was released in the exact same colours for the Chilean Carros Nuestros Queridos partwork, where one can find a model on eBay from China or Hong Kong for a mere $30 if one includes shipping to the US.
The 1975 Volkswagen Brasilia three-door hatchback, which was styled after local Type 3 designs but was really meant to replace the Fusca (something it did not do, although it was wildly popular), is also not going to kill your wallet. Having been released as a Premium X Diecast model in blue with the same common, aftermarket hubcaps as the red partwork model, you can probably snag one for a mere $30, including shipping. You also get some nice photo-etch trim as a bonus. The reason this car really matters is because it was really the first truly Brazilian Volkswagen, wherein while it bore the Volkswagen name, it wasn’t merely a rejected German design like the Type 3 range or a restyled German design like the Karmann-Ghia TC. It really was a Volkswagen designed by and for Brazilians. As such, it bucked a number of things we think of as automotive styling basics. The Brazilian designers didn’t think one had to be restricted to a small car when designing a hatchback and the car is often mistaken for an estate, as such. Likewise, while it was a rear-engined car, it didn’t sacrifice huge amounts of cargo room just so the engine could be there. It really was an ‘outside-the-box’ design and Ixo modeled it wonderfully.
With the 1969 Volkswagen Variant two-door estate, found in the same pale blue as the 1961 Fusca, we see the sister model to the infamous Volkswagen 1600 four-door saloon. It was, like the 1600, a Type 3 derivative with a nice, roomy interior despite a rear engine that some have posited inspired the Brasilia. Even despite its front fascia, the Variant, at least to me, was far less ugly both in real life and as a model. The roof height, which was an issue with the 1600 four-door saloon, is nailed dead on with the Variant. We also get nice gray hubcaps and in general, a high level of detail for what really was Volkswagen’s first successful estate car in Brazil.
The 1976 Volkswagen Passat B1 three-door hatchback (called a 1975 on the plinth), which was released in lemon yellow, was a really nice surprise. I know what you’re probably thinking and how ridiculously boring the Passat B1 is. That was not the case with this model. Ixo did a magnificent job of taking the Brazilian-spec bumpers and adding them to the otherwise-European car. Passat fans will notice a pretty significant difference when comparing it to a European model or North American model of a B1. The details are all correct, and if you like the Passat, especially the three-door hatchback version, I would take a look here. The only error is the model year on the plinth. The year 1975 saw B1 two-door saloons imported as well as built in Brazil. Only in 1976 do we begin to see the three-door hatchback version of the car burst onto the scene to effectively replace the 1600TL.
Speaking of the 1972 Volkswagen 1600TL two-door fastback saloon, it’s available in dark blue and is really a fine model. You’ll also see a surprising amount of these from eBay sellers in China and Hong Kong for reasons that I’m not entirely sure of. Called the Volkswagen TL on the plinth, omitting the ‘1600’ did create the car’s nickname, in all fairness. Yet another derivative of the Type 3, the 1600TL is, at least to me, by far the nicest-looking. Evidently the Brazilians thought so as well, since the real car was the best-selling Brazilian Type 3 derivative. It has the local Brazilian facelift applied to the otherwise-ugly front fascia and is nicely and cleanly streamlined as a two-door saloon (a four-door version was also manufactured and was popular as a taxi, of all things). If you’re interested in the Type 3 and you can only get one Brazilian version, I would highly recommend that version to be the 1600TL.
With the 1962 DKW-Vemag Vemaguet two-door estate, we’re back to three-cylinder, two-stroke DKWs for a moment. Available in roughly the same colour as the Volkswagen 1600TL, I really liked this one for the level of detail we got and also for the history and how the car was marketed. These cars were originally called the DKW-Vemag Camioneta, or light van. Indeed, despite being an estate wagon, these cars were pushed very heavily as dual purpose vehicles: they could either be a family estate car or a delivery van for an urban small businessman. Some undoubtedly served both purposes. Renamed the Vemaguet in 1961, this was the version modeled by Ixo and features the early-style bumpers and pre-facelift grille. Strangely enough, the display plinth calls the car a 1967 model, which would have been the last year of production and seen a very dramatic facelift with four headlights. DKW lovers should also be aware that history repeated itself regarding Ixo and Neo. Remember when Ixo outdid Neo for the Volkswagen SP2 on proportions? The recently released DKW F-94 Kombi has a whole host of problems with its shape, and while the DKW-Vemag Vemaguet is less detailed and obviously more down-market, the Vemaguet is also a nicer representation of a DKW estate car based around the F-94, so long as you’re able to get around the unique Brazilian bumpers and the unique Brazilian badging.
Finally, there is the 1957 Volkswagen Kombi 1200 minibus, which is coloured two-tone grey and white. This is the famous Type 2 as it was first released not only in Brazil, but also in the United States. Note the bumpers and you’ll see what I mean! Given the tremendous cultural impact that the VW Kombi had in the United States during the 1960s, American collectors may wish to procure this model over the numerous European Type 3s. In Brazil, the Volkswagen Kombi 1200 was more of a large estate wagon or true minibus in terms of its duties, but likewise has its own cult following. It’s a very nice model and is both nicely-detailed and one of the most consistent models in terms of actual quality that you can find in Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil. You should be able to find one on eBay in China or Hong Kong for about $30, so you won’t have to go break the bank for this one, either.
So, we’ve finally come to the end of this article and I am looking forward to more cars, more photos, and your feedback. Keep on collecting and, as I asked for in the previous edition of Model Auto Review, I’d love to see anyone who has purchased a Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil model or Premium X Diecast equivalent email a comment or two to Model Auto Review on how you think the direction of the partwork is going, what you’d like to see, and also, what you think of the model or models that you purchased, especially with the recent quality control issues that seem to be unfortunately almost universal. Thanks very much!
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