Tag Archives: VW

New and re-cycled Minichamps 4/17

By Maz Woolley

All photographs supplied by Minichamps.

New MiniChamps

Minichamps have announced some new liveries on their diecast 1:18 scale Porsche 911 GT3 R. These are diecast in metal and made in comparatively large editions by current standards so there must be a lot of collectors of Porsche racing models even in this large scale.

 

PORSCHE 911 GT3 R – HENZLER/DUMBRECK/RAGGINGER/IMPERATORI – ADAC ZÜRICH 24H RENNEN 2016 L.E. 504 pcs.

PORSCHE 911 GT3 R – MANTHEY RACING – NÜRBURGRING TEST 2015 L.E. 402 pcs.

 

Re-cycled MaxiChamps

 

These diecast models are diecast to 1:43 scale in China for Minichamps. The MaxiChamps range consists of re-releases of older Minichamps models produced to a lower price point then current Minichamps models. The photographs below show the original Golf based Volkswagen Scirrocco from the mid-70s.  The models are roughly the same standard as many part works reach now and lack the fine detail that the latest Minichamps would include.
VOLKSWAGEN SCIROCCO – 1974


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Brazilian Wheels V

Part V: Accuracy, Aftermarket Parts, Distribution, and Expansion

By John-William Greenbaum

I believe that before I write anything further concerning the Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil partwork, I should tell you that said partwork has been expanded to one hundred issues. What issues seventy-six through one hundred depict is unknown at this point, although an official statement from publisher Planeta DeAgostini said that the models would be ‘primarily’ cars from the 1990s. Given that Ixo has produced models for a partwork devoted to Opel, of which popular Brazilian cars of the nineties such as the Chevrolet Vectra and Chevrolet Astra could easily be adapted from, I believe it safe to say that we’ll see at least a few of the Opel-based Chevrolets. Furthermore, moulds of the early model Brazilian Dodge Dart and late model Chevrolet Opala have shown up in a parallel Brazilian partwork, so we may see these cars as well. Another entry may be the long-promised 1975 Dodge Polara, which was a surprise cancellation only a few months ago. The future of the partwork is uncertain regarding which models we will see and we will not see. As such, I will concentrate on the past and present until a list of models becomes available. Likewise, I will omit any references to models that should have been included, for they indeed may yet be.

The eight models which I will concentrate upon in this article are on the whole excellent, even at times reminding me why I was spending my time writing about them and my pennies on buying them. Indeed, one model in particular reached to the same heights as the Chevrolet Amazona carryall featured in Brazilian Wheels IV, but I’ll get to that in due time. When you were last reading my opinion of Ixo’s quality control, it was with a decidedly bleak outlook. I feared that more and more models would arrive with parts that were fitted incorrectly, parts that were rattling loose in the box, and possibly even bizarre substances applied to the models as with the Chevrolet Amazona and Dodge Charger R/T. Fortunately, with two exceptions, all of that seemed to change with these models and Ixo’s quality control was acceptable. Bizarre and painful inaccuracies such as those witnessed with the Chevrolet Ipanema were another problem that I feared, but encountered in only one instance. I suppose that in sum, one could fairly say that my expectations were lowered by the models seen in the past issue and have since been raised by the models seen in this issue.

The first model that arrived to my door was a true modern classic in Brazil: the 1991 Chevrolet Kadett three-door hatchback. Coloured gunmetal grey, this was ironically the car upon which the dreadfully-modelled Chevrolet Ipanema estate wagon was based. Like the Ipanema, the Kadett was more or less a rebadged Opel Kadett E. Like the Ipanema, the Kadett was powered by either a 1,800 cubic centimetre or 2,000 cubic centimetre four-cylinder engine. However, unlike the Ipanema, the model of the Kadett has excellently-done badging. It’s unfortunately almost impossible to see in a photograph due to being roughly the same colour as the car’s body, but the car is indeed badged as a ‘Kadett 1.8’, meaning the model represents the variation with the 1,800 cubic centimetre engine. This also means the car was powered by traditional petrol rather than the ‘gasohol’ ethanol fuel that powered the 2,000 cubic centimeter version. Released in 1989, the first Chevrolet Kadett was technically a 1990 model, although the one we see represented is the 1991 model.

The Kadett was, at the time, actually looked upon as having been something of an underdog in spite of its origins with the proven Opel Kadett E. When the Kadett was introduced, it was taking the place of Brazil’s favourite Chevrolet: the Chevette. In addition to its excellent price point, the Chevette had national pride going for it, having been Chevrolet’s only ‘world car’ ever introduced in Brazil before being released anywhere else. The Kadett was more expensive, most assuredly not Brazilian-designed, and had gained competitors such as the Gurgel BR-800 in addition to the established Fiat Uno, Ford Escort, and Volkswagen Gol. Regardless, the Kadett managed to beat the odds and while not equaling the near-unbeatable nature of the Chevette, it was a good-selling, reliable car manufactured until 1998. The Kadett also universalised Chevrolets, with the exceptions of trucks and SUVs, in Brazil being essentially rebadged Opels. Gone were the days of a ‘hybrid’ German-American car like the Opala or indeed the Chevette.

What really surprised me about the model was that it was so good compared to the dreadful Ipanema estate wagon. There was no fitting that was needed, wiper blades were not glued on crooked, and rather importantly, the trim and badging were correctly done. The side mouldings that were such a disaster with the Ipanema were replaced with tampo-printed black side-mouldings that really do convey the look and feel of plastic trim. The grille, bumpers, chassis, and wiper blades all fit perfectly. This was a car that Planeta DeAgostini and Ixo really did seem to care about. However, it did introduce one new and slightly disturbing trend that has reared its head several times with the past few models and, from the previews of forthcoming models, will be seen again: the presence of aftermarket parts.

One of the few bright spots with the Ipanema was its hubcaps, which were correct for the car. The only perceptible flaw with the Kadett, aside from perhaps having the driver’s side window rolled down that caused a surprising amount of controversy, was ironically hubcap design. Instead of the nicely-executed, dull plastic hubcaps we saw on the Chevrolet Ipanema, we see a return to the shiny hubcaps from earlier in the partwork. A number of Brazilian collectors believe the shiny hubcaps to be poorly coloured; as just one more step in preparing a model that shouldn’t need any alterations made to it. However, what we don’t see are poorly-coloured factory hubcaps, which could easily be remedied with a dash of gray paint or Humbrol Clear Matt enamel. Rather, we see poorly-coloured aftermarket hubcaps that were, on the whole, poorly received by Brazilian collectors. While the general consensus on the model itself was that it was excellent, it wasn’t until someone showed a photograph of a Kadett converted with wheels from the Ipanema that collectors started giving this car the high marks it deserved. It’s not that we’ve not seen aftermarket hubcaps before—the Volkswagen Brasilia sported them—but the aftermarket hubcaps we’ve seen in the past have on the whole been quite tastefully done. These decidedly were not. Soon after photographing this model, it became the first in my collection to receive a coat of pale grey paint on the hubcaps.

Regardless of the hubcaps, though, I would recommend the model to several different types of collector. Obviously, the Chevrolet collector would be atop the list. The Kadett was Chevrolet’s successor to the Chevette in the Chevette’s country of origin and aside from the wheels, the model was very nicely done and in an attractive colour. Opel collectors may also wish to have this model in their collection, as it was truly the car that universalized ‘Chevrolet-as-rebadged Opel’ in Brazil. Fans of the Vauxhall Astra Mark 2 may also be interested. To my mind, if you’re a fan of 1980s and 1990s cars in general, then the Chevrolet Kadett has the detail and the history to justify its price point. However, you may want to invest in some flat clear enamel for the wheels, as well.


 


The second model I received was the collection’s very first ute: the 1989 Ford Pampa. The Ford Pampa was based on the Ford Corcel II and indeed was the last vehicle produced in Brazil to have a Renault 12 chassis (it was of course outlived by the Dacia 1310, which ceased production in Romania in 2004). Introduced in 1982, it was most certainly not meant as a ‘true’ pickup. For this, Ford already had the proven F-100 and F-1000, the latter a domestic variant of the American Ford F-250. Rather, since only Fiat had produced a successful ute, one that was ultimately too small, and notably not Chevrolet or Volkswagen, Ford seized the opportunity. Essentially having a monopoly on the market in 1982 and 1983, the Pampa sold very well and Ford was able to quickly expand the number of options available for the ute. It also spawned two competitors: the Volkswagen Saveiro based on the Volkswagen Gol and the Chevrolet Chevy 500, based on the Chevette. While the Saveiro was deliberately chosen to avoid direct competition with the much larger Pampa, the Chevy 500 was indeed intended as a true direct competitor. While it lasted until 1993, the Chevy 500 never outsold the Pampa or really captured the public’s imagination in the same way.

In 1984, largely in response to the introduction of the Volkswagen and Chevrolet utes, the Ford Pampa received even more options. While a new engine was promoted, the real attention-grabber was a Pampa 4×4. Ford continued upgrading the Pampa throughout its existence. In 1986, the ute was facelifted with the front clip of a Ford Del Rey and a special Ghia version was added with much of the equipment that could be found in the Del Rey Ghia. By 1989, the standard 4×2 models were available with Volkswagen AP-1800 engines. You may be wondering why a Ford ute would be fitted with a Volkswagen engine. The answer, in a word, is “AutoLatina”. AutoLatina was a joint venture between Ford do Brasil, Volkswagen do Brasil, Ford of Argentina, and Volkswagen of Argentina that lasted from 1987 until 1995. It was actually founded on a fairly sound premise: that the two companies would not compete in Argentina or Brazil due to economic reasons and, when necessary, would share technology. The problem, of course, was that managers of individual, established Ford and Volkswagen dealerships continued to push Ford over Volkswagen and vice versa while, during the final years of the joint venture, tensions began growing between Ford and Volkswagen as the economic situation was improving. However, in 1989, tensions were fairly low. By 1991, the Pampa received another, more powerful engine. The Ghia version also began getting a ‘sportier’ image. Facelifted again in 1992, the Pampa only ended production in 1997. Over 350,000 had been sold and the buying public was not happy with the Pampa’s discontinuation. The Pampa’s replacement, the Fiesta-based Ford Courier, never came close to matching the sales figures of the Pampa.

The model that Ixo produced for the partwork represents a 1989 Ford Pampa. If we stick to that general outline, the model is very good. A few Brazilian collectors noted that the front end was a bit too squared-off, but that it really wasn’t something that would affect them buying the model one way or the other. The real problems with the Pampa were its badging and its extremely heavy use of aftermarket parts. The tailgate, for example, on the real Ford Pampa, was badged with the trim level. The model has a completely blank tailgate. The real problem, however, is just how much in the way of aftermarket modifications the Pampa has. Rather than putting a black tonneau cover over the cargo bed as was initially speculated, we instead saw the model come with a black-coloured cargo bed. While the actual detail is just fine, there’s only one problem: the Pampa wasn’t available with anything but a body-coloured cargo bed. While aftermarket modifications exist that have had the cargo bed sprayed with black-coloured spray-on truck bed liner, ideally, it would have been nice to note that somewhere in the accompanying booklet or alternately save some money and just paint the cargo bed red like the rest of the body.

With all that said, if you want the quintessential Brazilian ute, the Brazilian answer to the Chevrolet El Camino in the United States or the various Holden and Ford Falcon utes in Australia, then the 1989 Ford Pampa is both a handsome, nicely-done model (grille controversy notwithstanding) and one that probably deserves to be revisited as a Premium X Diecast or White Box model with a body-coloured cargo bed and proper badging. Photographs are available on the internet of the correct badging for these utes, so printing decals is not out of the question. The wheels and wing mirrors alike are both well-executed, with the former being grey-coloured and the latter having reflective surfaces. Likewise, I think you can overlook the cargo bed given that it was a rather widespread modification once the interior had become worn from use. My personal problem with the aftermarket parts on the Pampa isn’t so much the physical detail as it is the precedent that it’s set. Doubtless, there will be naysayers telling me it’s a tempest in a teapot or perhaps an aberration, but just wait until I get down a bit further to another model and you will see why this is a concern not only to me, but also to a number of Brazilian collectors.


 

 


Issue 64 was supposed to be the 1992 Chevrolet Omega CD four-door saloon in black. Instead, what we wound up seeing was a 1987 Volkswagen Voyage. However, I had already pre-ordered the Omega from my dealer friend and when I sent him an email asking for credit toward the next model, he told me not to worry, that I would receive a 1992 Chevrolet Omega CD model anyway! Sure enough, although missing the magazine, I received exactly that, packed together with the Volkswagen Voyage. I later learned that distribution problems had delayed the Omega CD all the way until Issue 75; technically, it’s not even been released yet. Fortunately, a very small amount managed to make their way onto the market missing the magazines, and I secured one in its original position in the partwork as Issue 64.

The Chevrolet Omega CD, as you can probably tell from the photographs, is based on the Opel Omega A and will certainly be familiar to British motorists, as well, as a ‘cousin’ to the Vauxhall Carlton Mark II. However, if we look at the Chevrolet Kadett and we look at the Chevrolet Omega in any trim level, one of the things we immediately notice is that while the Chevrolet Kadett is literally a rebadged Opel Kadett E, there are some differences one notices between the Opel Omega A and the Chevrolet Omega. The trim, the grille, and the front turn signals are all notably a bit different. During its 1992-1998 production run, the original Chevrolet Omega was General Motors do Brasil’s top of the line car. What distinguished the Omega CD from the other Omega variants—the Omega GL and Omega GLS—was its engine. The Omega CD featured, at least in 1992, a 3.0 litre six-cylinder engine. In 1995, it actually got a 4.1 litre inline six that was tuned by Lotus, which was of course very similar to what Lotus had done with the Lotus Carlton and Lotus Omega five years earlier. Fortunately for Brazilian motorists, the car’s exterior remained one of luxury rather than sport and wasn’t the infamous favourite of car thieves and joyriders. Sadly, this excellent car proved to be the only generation of Chevrolet Omega that was physically produced in Brazil. In 1999, when the so-called Omega B arrived, it was a rebadged Holden Calais imported from Australia. Therefore, unsurprisingly, the original Omega CD is generally looked to as the car to be the most proud of; you’ve not only got a good car with great engine in it, but you’ve also got a Brazilian-manufactured car.

From the handful of models that did reach the marketplace, including a few in the hands of somewhat influential collectors, the general feeling amongst Brazilian collectors is that Ixo really nailed this model. A majority of cars were sadly defective and were likely quality control rejects for one reason or another so until these are actually released as Issue 75, I would stay away from them. Because I had heard the reports of quality control rejects, when my supplier got back to me and said he had a few, I asked for one with a cracked case lid over the plinth and to simply ‘strap’ the model to its plinth using newspaper. Naturally, while the case lid was almost unusable, the model itself was not defective. I can anticipate a few collectors complaining about the shiny wheels, but the actual mould used for these wheels is correct. If you wish to paint it light grey, you’ll get a very nice representation of the real car without the ‘bling’ on the wheels. Badging and trim are extremely well-executed and finally, I really thought the black colour for what was essentially Chevrolet’s last Brazilian-made executive car was extremely appropriate and they couldn’t have chosen better. This is a superb model and of the 1980s and 1990s Chevrolets, it’s my personal favourite so far. I highly recommend this model, but unfortunately, I would recommend waiting until the model is physically released as Issue 75 before buying it because of the extremely high rate of defects in the models that have shown up so far, to say nothing of the complete lack of an accompanying magazine. Other than that, if I had to pick a model released so far to represent a 1990s Brazilian Chevrolet, it would without any second thoughts be this model.


 

 


Ironically, the model that was released instead of the near-perfect Chevrolet Omega CD, the 1987 Volkswagen Voyage two-door saloon, has a whole host of problems with it and is, without question, the worst model I’m going to review today. One of the reasons that I think this model had a lot of potential was that in the United States, it was sold as the Volkswagen Fox. Any time you get a US-market or even Canadian-market Volkswagen, it tends to bring the American Volkswagen collectors out in droves. Just look at the 1961 Volkswagen Fusca from Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil or the Volkswagen Kombi 1200 from the same collection. The Voyage was the obvious number three in the triumvirate on paper, but it didn’t quite work out that way. The Voyage was introduced in 1981 as the saloon version of the Volkswagen Gol. Both two-door and four-door versions were offered, although the four-door version is quite rare in Brazil owing to the fact that it was built in Argentina at a time when tariffs designed to protect the Brazilian automotive industry were so astronomically high that it was unrealistic to import any car whatsoever. As such, I doubt anyone was surprised that we saw a two-door saloon. The basic model is pretty clearly a 1987-1989 generation model while the plinth calls it a 1983 model. Likewise, the trim up front is barely off; the bumper should be a bit more flush-fitting. However, this is fairly minor. The real problem with this model is the location of the wing mirrors.

Normally, when one gets the location of the wing mirrors off on a model, it’s either negligible or it’s fairly simple to correct. In the case of the Volkswagen Voyage, however, it’s neither. As you can see in the two photographs, the wing mirrors on the model are about halfway down the length of the doors. As you can also see, they’re also recessed fairly deeply into the doors. The only problem here is that on the real Volkswagen Voyage, the wing mirrors were located more or less exactly where they were located on the partwork’s superb Volkswagen Gol GTi: right where the corner glass comes to a point at the front of each door. The type of wing mirror is also wrong. In other words, you can’t just remove the mirrors, fill the holes with putty, and stick them where they’re supposed to go because they wouldn’t look correct there, either! Due to the colour, it would be nearly impossible to match correctly even provided one took the mirrors off a superfluous Volkswagen Gol GTi. Some speculation has arisen from the Brazilian collecting community that perhaps they were looking at a 1983 Voyage and used the wing mirrors from that. I think that’s close, but not exact, because the mirrors are still set too far back. The real shame of it is that if you can manage to look past the wing mirrors, Ixo really had a good model here. If they went back and reworked the mould to accommodate the wing mirrors from the Gol GTi, I think this model would be very nice. As a few of its pluses, for example, we saw a return to grey-coloured wheels, the colour was very nicely done, and the badging was also accurate.


 

 


My next package, however, contained the first of three absolutely superb models: a 1982 Volkswagen Kombi CD. As I explained in my previous article when I was talking about the Volkswagen do Brasil models that had been done prior to me writing my first article, the Volkswagen T2 Kombi was both one of the partwork’s best-executed models as well as one of Brazil’s best-known motor vehicles of any type. Produced from 1976 all the way until December 2013, one year ago, the Kombi had a sister model known as the Kombi CD. A pickup, the ‘CD’ is an abbreviation of ‘cabine dupla’, which translates to ‘double cab’ in English. The Kombi CD, introduced in 1981 as a 1982 model and finally discontinued in 2000, didn’t quite have the amazingly long production run of the Kombi, but it was still in production for just over eighteen years. Going up against the Chevrolet C-10 and the Ford and F-100 and F-1000, you may be wondering how it managed to last that long. The secret was not how much cargo it could carry, but rather how many passengers it could carry.

The designers at Volkswagen knew that producing the European version of the T2 pickup was not something that was going to compete adequately with Ford and Chevrolet. It just could not carry enough compared to the Fords and the Chevys that had been on the market for so long. Even if it could undercut the Ford and Chevy in price when sold new, the numerous used Fords and Chevys that could still use parts that were at the time newly-manufactured and inexpensive negated the entire concept. However, demand began growing during the late 1970s and early 1980s for pickups that could also carry more than two or three people. With the fuel shortages in Brazil, estate wagons like the Ford Belina II, the Chevrolet Opala Caravan, and even the Volkswagen Kombi were being bought up and used as dual purpose vehicles, rather than owning a Ford F-100 and a Volkswagen Passat, for example. The Kombi certainly could not carry more than the F-100 and the C-10, but it could carry more than the Belina II and Opala Caravan. Combined with aftermarket conversions of the C-10 and F-100 in particular to double cab vehicles, Volkswagen do Brasil suddenly had the perfect truck to market.

Rolled out as something of a combination work crew alternative and family alternative to the F-100 and C-10 near the end of 1981, the Kombi CD had a few other unique features aside from the double cab. Foremost among these was that it could be adequately described as a ‘drop-side’ more than a true pickup truck. Not only could one lower the tailgate, but they could also lower the sides of the bed for easy access to whatever was inside. In keeping with its family-friendly image, early Kombi CDs were offered in two-tone paint. I think that Ixo doing one of these early models was a really nice touch. I don’t have any complaints about this model at all. In my opinion, it’s one of the best models Ixo’s yet done for the partwork. Some may complain a bit about the shiny silver wheels, but the actual mould use to make them is spot-on and should you decide to paint them grey or white or even add a clear flat coat of paint, I can’t see having any problems whatsoever with this model. One could argue I suppose that the 1981 model year given on the display plinth is inaccurate, as the 1981 production Kombi CDs were all 1982 models, but that’s nitpicking to an absurd degree. Still, it was only my second favourite model that I reviewed for this article. That’s not a commentary on any fault with the Kombi CD, but rather a testament to the very next model.


 

 


I have a strong feeling that American collectors in particular will be drawn to the next model I received, which was the truly stunning 1980 Ford F-75 Pickup. The average European collector may ask, reasonably, ‘what are you going on about American collectors buying 1980 Fords?’ My answer is that a Willys by any other name is still a Willys. Turn back the clock from 1980 to 1965. Willys Overland do Brasil brings in Brooks Stevens, the original designer of the Willys Jeep Station Wagon, to redesign both the Willys Rural, the Brazilian equivalent to the Willys Jeep Station Wagon, and the Willys Pick-up, which was the Brazilian equivalent to the Willys Jeep Truck. We saw what Stevens did to the Rural in the very first article in this series, a model which Ixo executed beautifully. But you may be wondering what happened to the Rural and the Pick-up after Ford first purchased Willys and then ultimately renamed its products as Fords. The Ford Rural continued production almost completely unaltered until the end of 1972, but Ford didn’t have a light truck ready to import into the country that was just a notch below the F-100 and which had plenty of available parts. The Willys Pick-up was renamed the Ford F-75 and continued in production until 1981. Like the Rural, Ford did give it an extremely minor facelift. Notably, the Ford versions have black-coloured grille bars while the Willys versions have body-coloured or white-coloured grille bars. Very late Ford versions also have different side mirrors, which were mounted on stalks rather than the doorframe. Late Ford models also tend to have decidedly late-style hubcaps, which Ixo has once again captured perfectly. They’ve also done these in the grey colour that tends to be favoured over the ‘shiny’ wheels that seem to be favoured by a majority of collectors. ‘FORD’ lettering on the tailgate was also much more prominent on the later models, which was recreated superbly.

I actually have two of these models: I had intended to convert one to a Willys, but decided against it. Yet, I still don’t regret buying the second one. It’s just that nicely done. Rarely does a model manage to pole-vault its way into the top five models of a collection when the collection is over half completed, but the Ford F-75 has done just that for me. However, I should caution American buyers: before you start raiding eBay for the $75 USD models if one includes the price of postage, Ixo has anticipated your salivating over this model. Premium X announced that it would be releasing one in the near future. A Willys Rural is planned for release under the White Box brand, as well. You can save a few dollars and still get the model you want.


 

 


The next model is, to date, the final estate wagon to be announced as well as the final MOPAR or Simca to be announced, though that could of course change on both counts and likely will. The 1962 Simca Jangada was something of a commercial flop, but it sure was beautiful. If one examines the Simca Marly estate wagon manufactured in France during Chrysler Corporation’s controlling interest in Simca but also before the complete buyout in 1964, it seems something of a mismatch. To wit: the front of the car is clearly from a second generation, ‘fins and chrome’ Simca Vedette. However, the rear of the car as well as the tailfins were taken from the earlier, first generation Simca Vedette from the mid-late 1950s. Before beginning this collection, I wondered if Simca had ever made a mockup or concept version of the second generation Vedette as a station wagon. It was then that I learned of the Simca Jangada. Presented in stunning two-tone red and white, the Simca Jangada, both in real life and on the model, lacks the ‘mashup’ look of the Simca Marly. The Simca Jangada, a self-developed Brazilian design, looks eminently more consistent. Ixo treats us to whitewall tyres, a roof rack, tastefully done chrome hubcaps, and an acceptable if rare paint scheme. The model is an excellent one and has only one real defect: the wing mirror that seems to have been taken from a 1/24 scale model or perhaps a truck. The Jangada wasn’t available with wing mirrors at all and the few aftermarket or dealer conversions seen in photographs seem to have Simca Chambord wing mirrors. Fortunately, getting that particular part is fairly simple, and it also fits perfectly into the slot left vacant by the poorly-sized aftermarket mirror that came with the model.

In spite of its success, Brazilian collectors were a bit worried about this model due to distribution problems, a number of quality control issues, and the complete lack of a photo depicting the model on Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil’s website. My own model came with a bent wing mirror—which is now languishing away in my spare parts box and therefore doesn’t matter; but it also came partially covered in a thin film of oil. This oil seems to have been applied some time ago, for as you can see in the photograph, it actually has dust under it. Of course, I cleaned the film off immediately after photographing the model, but after getting a few models, two others that come immediately to mind were the DKW-Vemag Vemaguet and the Volkswagen Variant, with oil spots or oil film on them and having someone ask me what sort of oil film I was talking about, I wanted to illustrate just how they looked before I cleaned them up for the camera. However, if the Simca Jangada caused minor issues with its aftermarket wing mirror, the next model caused a great deal more issues with a great deal more parts.


 

 


I received my alleged 1963 Willys Jeep CJ-5 just three days ago as of my writing this. I say ‘alleged’ because what we really have here is a 1980 Ford Jeep CJ-5. Even though it lacks Ford badging, and Willys badging for that matter, a number of tell tale signs point to this being a very late production Ford Jeep CJ-5. The front bumper, front fenders, and wheels, which are surprisingly detailed, all point to this Jeep being a Ford. Much like the Ford Rural and Ford F-75, Ford do Brasil thought the CJ-5 profitable enough to keep producing it almost completely unaltered until 1982. I actually happen to like vehicles like this, the ‘living fossils’ of the automotive world, but the lack of Ford badging is a tad disappointing. Still, it’s also fairly easy to correct, as this model of the CJ-5 would only require three tiny Ford logo decals to make it accurately badged. My real issues with this model were just how much in the way of aftermarket parts that were put on as well as one of the most severe quality control issues I’ve yet encountered. I repaired the model for the photograph.

For starters, the canvas roof is aftermarket. This was actually a fairly common aftermarket conversion that seemed to surface during the late 1970s, so the timing is right, but I would have preferred the factory roof. Given that it’s a separate part, hopefully Ixo can correct that for the Premium X model or the White Box model. Much more egregious is a somewhat uncommon aftermarket customization wherein the spare tire was moved from the rear of the passenger side just aft and above of the right rear wheel to a mount that’s slightly off-center on the tailgate. The earliest I can find reference to this aftermarket mount is 1980, which means very few new Jeeps would have had it. More common was a centered mount on the tailgate meant to emulate Brazilian Army Jeeps of the 1970s. However, a few clues from both Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil’s website and the accompanying magazine point that a CJ-5 may not have been the original model intended for production.

In the Carros mas Queridos Colombian partwork, we see a beautifully-done, beautifully-researched Willys Jeep CJ-3B. On the older version of the website, we saw advertised a ‘1953 Willys Jeep CJ-3B’. Finally, in the magazine, we see an advertising brochure devoted to the old CJ-3B, as well as large amount of text devoted to it. Although it’s merely a hunch, I believe fairly strongly that someone changed their mind about which Jeep to feature, thereby giving them less time in which to research the Brazilian CJ-5. Most South American countries produced the CJ-3B under license at some point and indeed, Brazil was among these countries. Imported as complete knockdown kits in 1953 and 1954, these kits were assembled in small quantities until 1957, when Brazil began assembling the CJ-5. While seeing a Willys Jeep CJ-3B on Brazilian roads would hardly have been unheard-of, they had become quite uncommon by the 1960s and 1970s. Unfortunately, with the combination of aftermarket parts it has, the CJ-5 that we received wouldn’t have been much more common. With all that said, as I said, I really hope Ixo revisits this one and corrects it, as the parts that are aftermarket are not integral to the mould.

I also noted that this model had a severe quality control issue, and it took a lot of work to repair it and put it into the condition you see in the photo. It arrived with a large piece of mould flash jutting out from the baseplate into the right front fender. The result was that the model was badly lopsided, and one of the wheels (rear left) had actually cracked where it attached to the axle. Fortunately, the damage to the wheel is only visible if one looks at the underside of the model. Because Ixo had glued the front suspension over the screw, I painstakingly pried off the front suspension with the tip of my XActo knife. I was then able to unscrew the baseplate, remove the piece of mould flash with a file, screw the baseplate back on, coat the back of the left rear wheel with cyanoacrylate glue to prevent the crack from worsening, glue the front suspension back on with wood glue, and I finally had myself a repaired model! With that said, I do believe it to have been worth the effort. If you’re willing to tolerate the aftermarket parts and lack of Ford badging with this one, I would recommend it, as the scale is close to perfect.


 

 


As usual, I also feel obligated to cover, by manufacturer, the models that I missed covering from before my first article. In this issue, we’ll go over the five models by Chevrolet do Brasil that I missed covering in the first issue. I actually did devote quite a bit of wording to the Chevrolet Opala SS and Chevrolet Diplomata Caravan, but ironically did not give much coverage to the 1958 Chevrolet 3100 Picape that I ranked third best at the time, the 1974 Chevrolet Chevette that I ranked as fourth worst at the time, and the 1969 Chevrolet Veraneio SUV.

The 1958 Chevrolet 3100 Picape was, until the 1980 Ford F-75 came along, my personal favorite pickup from this partwork. Indeed, objectively, it probably is still a toss-up between which model is the better of the two. Indeed, Ixo followed it up with the 1963 Chevrolet Amazona, which of course proved very popular. The importance of the 3100 was that it was Brazil’s first self-developed pickup truck. Although there actually had been Brazilian-specification 3100s imported from the US or Canada prior to the 1954 import restriction and complete knockdown kits of the 1952 and 1953 models built from 1954-1957, these weren’t indigenously designed. The 3100 Picape, on the other hand, most certainly was. It proudly wore the emblem of Chevrolet do Brasil at the time: the black Chevrolet logo on a red field with a gold-coloured outline of the country of Brazil superimposed over it. The truck itself was a mixture of different parts, coming from early 1950s to late 1950s American Chevrolet trucks, but whatever the source, it worked and worked well until Chevrolet could finally get the C-10 down to Brazil to replace it. The detailing on the model was and is stunning and it continues to occupy a space in my personal ‘top five’ list. Also, there have been some conflicting reports as to whether this one will be produced for Premium X Diecast or not. Ixo briefly advertised it, but it has since not shown up, so you may wish to spring for the Brazilian partwork version. Fortunately, quality control on this particular model has been excellent.

Less impressive was the 1974 Chevrolet Chevette two-door saloon. Although this was meant to represent Brazil’s first generation Chevette, Chevrolet’s only world car that debuted in Brazil, it failed. A superfluous grille bar and a complete lack of any bumper overriders was downright bizarre. In addition, the turn signals are far too light in colour and the car is bizarrely missing any sort of bracket on the rear on the rear of the boot lid for a licence plate! What’s truly unfortunate is that Planeta DeAgostini either deleted or bumped back the planned 1975 Dodge Polara in order to essentially re-do the Chevette as a 1977 GP-II model that I’ll be reviewing in the next article. While egregious problems like the void on the boot lid, for lack of a better term, and the superfluous grille bar are fortunately gone, the bumper problems are remarkably still there. Fortunately, I think I know how to correct them, at least for the GP-II. But I’ll get to that in my next article.

Finally, there is the 1969 Chevrolet Veraneio, called a 1965 on the plinth. While I’ve heard this described as an estate wagon, it really is best to describe it as a carryall or as an SUV. It was derived from the first generation Chevrolet C-10 and the early models manufactured from 1965-1967 show this best. By 1969, however, it featured a black-coloured grille with four headlights that was completely indigenous in design. Inspired by the American Chevrolet Suburban, the Veraneio was produced almost completely unaltered from 1969 until 1988 (as a 1989 model year). In 1989, the Veraneio finally changed over to being based on the Chevrolet C-20, a pickup that had replaced the C-10 in 1985. From 1989 through 1994, the Veraneio was produced based on the C-20 alongside the smaller Chevrolet Bonanza, which we will see, before finally being discontinued. Ixo reproduced this model in a lovely pale green colour with excellent attention to detail. Anyone even remotely interested in the Chevrolet Suburban should strongly consider this model, as it’s been a surprise omission from both Premium X Diecast as well as White Box.

Unfortunately, or fortunately if I was starting to bore you to tears, it seems that we’ve come to the end of the article. Right now, the partwork is facing minor distribution problems and some quality control issues, although nothing like the horrors I described in my last issue. The announcement of an extension to one hundred models seems oddly-timed, but I certainly look forward to both the new issues and indeed finding out what they will be. Although it’s obviously impossible to judge a model until I’ve seen it in person, I will say that of the remaining six known models (not counting the Chevy Omega CD), three seem spectacular, one seems solid, one seems impossible to tell thanks to terrible photography, and one seems outright poor. I sincerely hope you join me again in visiting those and future models. I will be sure, of course, to let you know when the ‘non-reject’ Chevrolet Omega CD is released, by the way. As always, happy collecting!

Brazilian Wheels IV

Variety, Quality Control Blues, and a Classic, Too!

By John-William Greenbaum

When I finished writing Brazilian Wheels Part III with its impressive array of vehicles, I thought it would be unmatched.  I stand corrected.  Although I will only feature five new models this time, and some of the Volkswagen do Brasil and DKW-Vemag models not already shown, I was truly struck by how different each of the five new models was from each other.  This fantastic variety came at a cost: problems with quality control that I had hoped would go away.  The sad irony was that with one exception, I was very impressed with the level of detail on each model.  Had just a bit more effort been put into these models, they might just have been four of the five best seen in the partwork to date.  Instead, unfortunately, what we wound up with was one very nicely-done model and four others that required a screwdriver, some wood glue, and/or refitting of a poorly-applied part.  Indeed, one of these models is something I consider to be in my top five for the partwork, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

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 TwoThe 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!

Editors comment – As John-William says we always welcome comments, additional information, and news about what our readers think about particular models or partworks.   Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page.

Brazilian Wheels III

Part Three: Family Saloons, Sporty Coupes, Little Estate Wagons, and an Interloper

By John-William Greenbaum

As I sit down to write this article, the variety of the past eleven models issued in Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil has really hit me. After switching suppliers for this partwork, I’ve been happily inundated with on-time and even ahead-of-schedule deliveries, which is in line with what many Brazilian hobbyists have reported on how quickly they receive the models, namely that a lot depends on your supplier. I have also been very happy, in a manner of speaking, that people noticed that there was no Brazilian Wheels Part III in the last issue of Model Auto Review. This was due to severe supply problems; the very supply problems that led me to change to my new supplier. As with Brazilian Wheels II, I plan on not only featuring the models supplied to me in the time since my last article, but also to focus on some of the cars I missed covering in the very first article. Below, you’ll see a focus on Ford and Willys Overland do Brasil cars that I missed doing the first time around. With that said, I think I’m getting ahead of myself.

We’ll begin with the eleven 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 superb 1966 Aero Willys 2600 four-door saloon, the nicely-executed 1964 Malzoni GT coupe, the more flawed 1968 Volkswagen 1600 four-door saloon, the terrific 1980 Ford Corcel II, the disappointing 1988 Chevrolet Monza four-door saloon, the brilliant 1982 Miura Targa coupe, the wonderfully-done 1991 Gurgel BR-800SL city car, the seemingly-hurried 1990 Ford Escort XR3 three-door ‘hot hatch’, the 1985 Volkswagen Santana four-door saloon that is the titular interloper, the well-executed 1989 Chevrolet Marajó 1.6 SLE two-door estate wagon, and the solid 1991 Fiat Elba four-door estate wagon that really makes up for the dreadful Fiat Uno issued earlier in the collection. In short, we’ve had a mixture of the very good, some models that have ranged from disappointing to poor, and one model that doesn’t belong in this partwork.

I received the 1966 Willys Aero Willys 2600 and 1964 Malzoni GT together, as a part of my old supplier’s second-to-last shipment to me. It was running nearly a month overdue, so you can imagine my excitement at finally seeing the US Mail truck pull up to my front walk with the blue-wrapped package containing the two models. Eagerly tearing into it, I was not disappointed. The 1966 Aero Willys 2600, which was called a ‘1966 Willys Aero Willys’ on the display stand, was in perfect condition without the usual glue smears you see in the photos (If you’re worried about that, don’t be, as I do clean them off after photographing them). The Malzoni GT was likewise in perfect condition; at least it was, once I tightened down the screws.

Looking at the 1966 Aero Willys 2600, we’re not merely looking at a Willys saloon manufactured long after Willys had stopped making saloons and station wagons for the US market. We’re also looking at what was really the last hurrah for Willys Overland do Brasil before being bought up by Ford. As the brainchild of Studebaker stylist and Raymond Loewy associate Brooks Stevens (who was also famous for designing the Jeep Wagoneer), much of the Studebaker styling present in cars like the Lark from 1962 onward and the famous Gran Turismo Hawk can be seen on the Willys Aero Willys 2600. One notable difference, something that Stevens seemed to alternate between promoting and even outright condemning, is the car’s split grille. If you can remember back to the first article where I featured the Willys Rural station wagon, you’ll doubtless be struck by the similarity. Turn the car around, however, and you’ll be equally struck by the similarity to a 1964 Studebaker Lark Daytona, especially around the rear window.

The Aero Willys 2600 is so named, at least with regard to the number, due to its engine: a Willys F6-161 inline six, which came in three versions on the real car: one that put out 90 horsepower, another that put out 110 horsepower, and a third version that put out 132 horsepower. Sold as a full-size saloon for the whole family, it’s doubtful that the model is meant to have the 132 horsepower engine, which was typically reserved for the Willys Itamaraty. The Aero Willys 2600 had two main competitors. For the first half of its existence, it went toe-to-toe with the Simca Chambord, which has lived on considerably longer in Brazilian popular culture; there are no songs devoted to the Aero Willys 2600 that I’m aware of, for example. During the second half of its existence, it competed with and fared much better against the Simca Esplanada and, under Ford ownership, likewise held its own against the saloon versions of the Chevrolet Opala. What ultimately ended the Aero Willys 2600 was its old technology. It was little more than a rebodied Willys Aero-series car from the early 1950s, and with the acquisition of Willys by Ford and the introduction of the Corcel, there just wasn’t a reason to keep it around. I should note that as with the Itamaraty, the Aero Willys 2600 had a particularly large engine bay. When someone figured out a Ford V8 engine could be dropped in, I have no doubt that more than a few ‘sleepers’ wound up looking like this in addition to some hotrods.

As with the Willys-by-Ford Itamaraty that I featured in the last article, aside from the tyres being a little on the small side and lacking whitewalls, this one was, and is, really nice and true to real life. Especially impressive on a small scale are the tampo-printed Willys badges on the c-pillars. The Aero Willys 2600 is really nothing more than the car that the Itamaraty was based on and as such is very similar in most respects as both a real car and a model. If you’re not much for Willys, then you may only wish to buy one of these cars. The main differences are the side spear and its location, the steel roof, and most significantly the front of the car. Personally, I feel that the side spear is handled a bit more crisply on this model than the Itamaraty, but your experience may vary. On the flipside, I personally prefer the simpler grille of the Itamaraty, although objectively, you could make a good case that more work was put into sculpting the Aero Willys 2600’s grille. Some collectors may be turned off by the powder blue colour of the car and the shiny plastic hubcaps, but I assure you that the colour is quite accurate. As for the hubcaps, as you’ll see, they really have started to become a bit of a nuisance, though fortunately, Brazilian DeAgostini seems to have noticed that. If you really can’t stand them, just break out the paint and paintbrush.

Our next model is the 1964 Malzoni GT, which was one of the most anticipated models in the collection. One could indeed make a legitimate case that it was the most anticipated model in the collection. However, before I go any further, I find it impossible to understand the Malzoni GT without understanding the men who designed it: Genaro ‘Rino’ Malzoni, Jorge Lettry, and Anisio Campos.

Rino Malzoni was born in 1918 in Salerno, Italy and emigrated to Brazil in 1930. Although a lawyer by profession, Malzoni was also a farmer and had a tremendous passion for fast cars. After World War II, he began experimenting with minor tweaks to his cars’ body designs, all the while seeking to emulate the performance cars that were springing up like grass in his native Italy. In 1961, Rino Malzoni built his first car, known as the Malzoni I. Whilst it had the underpinnings of a DKW-Vemag Belcar four-door saloon, the body was completely redesigned. Meant to be evocative of Italian designs of the period, Malzoni also experimented during this time with a car called the Casella I, which was based on the Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia. Due to weight problems with the Casella I, however, Malzoni found himself returning to the DKW-Vemag Belcar as a suitable base. After producing a prototype dubbed the Malzoni II, Rino found himself attracting a lot of attention from DKW-Vemag.

Around 1962 and 1963, DKW-Vemag was truly struggling to produce a racing car capable of even coming close to the formidable Willys Interlagos, which dominated the Brazilian racing circuit in the early 1960s. The Interlagos was actually a French design, based on the Alpine A108, which had financial backing from Renault and Willys Overland do Brasil. Reportedly, Vemag Racing Team manager Jorge Lettry was considering giving up altogether when DKW-Vemag announced that its racing car would be the DKW-Vemag Fissore, an Italian design that Lettry strongly believed was a waste of time. The Malzoni II changed all of that.

After seeing that Rino Malzoni had been producing his cars with the aid of Marinho and Milton Masteguin, the co-owners of noted DKW-Vemag dealership MM Comercial, Lettry realized that perhaps Malzoni could be convinced to work for DKW-Vemag. Lettry realized that although Malzoni’s car had minimal modifications to the engine, that the actual body was not only sound, but remarkably advanced. Lettry, via the Masteguins, convinced Malzoni that it would be in his best interest to work for DKW-Vemag. Although Lettry was more or less looking to keep his job at the time, he was quite involved with the first true collaborative effort between DKW-Vemag and Malzoni himself, which has alternately been called the Malzoni III and the DKW-Vemag GT. This car was featured and promoted nationally, and while it had a steel body, something Rino Malzoni had hoped to avoid in favour of fibreglass (GRP), it was also the first car featuring a Jorge Lettry-tuned engine.

Lettry’s engines may seem bizarre in today’s day and age. Capable of putting out 100 horsepower, they were DKW three-cylinder two-stroke models that were modified by dropping the compression ratio and modifying the engine head. Performance parts were also installed, but the compression ratio and engine head were the two most significant changes. Because the rules called for the same engine to be used in a racing car as in the DKW-Vemag Belcar itself, Lettry was somewhat handcuffed to using a three-cylinder, two-stroke engine.

It was around this time that Anisio Campos joined what would become the Malzoni GT’s design team. Campos had actually driven the DKW-Vemag GT prototype and was convinced of the need for a fibreglass body. A racing car driver by trade, Campos also knew a good deal about engineering, and quickly began advising Rino Malzoni on what he did and didn’t like about the DKW-Vemag GT. Campos’s most adamant suggestion was that the DKW-Vemag GT couldn’t win any races with a steel body; it had to be fibreglass. DKW-Vemag was nervous about backing the project, but Jorge Lettry assured them that the venture would pay off. Lettry, of course, almost certainly didn’t have any idea whether it would work or not. I should note that among the fibreglass engineers that Lettry encouraged Campos to bring in was a young man by the name of João Amaral Gurgel. Let’s just say you’ll be seeing a lot of that name further below.

The original three DKW-Vemag Malzoni GTs were ready in early 1964. A few more were built, but exclusively for racing purposes. Hoping to get his original vision of a car meant for both road and track, Rino Malzoni in conjunction with Marinho Masteguin, Milton Masteguin, and a car dealer named Luis Roberto Alves da Costa formed Lumimari to actually build the cars on 2 October, 1964. The name combined the first names of each man involved in the venture: ‘Lu’ represented Alves da Costa, ‘mi’ represented Milton Masteguin, ‘ma’ represented Marinho Masteguin, and ‘ri’ of course represented Rino Malzoni. Although Jorge Lettry initially chose not be part of the venture, he would eventually come on board in 1966.

Because of Lettry being a DKW-Vemag engineer while Lumimari was separate from DKW-Vemag, much confusion has arisen over what the car was actually called, or who produced it. Although sometimes referred to as a DKW-Vemag Malzoni GT, this moniker is only correct for cars made prior to the formation of Lumimari. In spite of the Auto Union badging, the car is correctly referred to in two ways: either as the GT Malzoni (A popular name at the time) or as the Malzoni GT. Indeed, the only road cars made were Malzoni GTs and were sold as such. Ixo reproduces the Malzoni GT in truly fine detail. Some collectors may have issues with the painted rear tail lights, but there aren’t any real errors to speak of. Further, much as with the Brasinca 4200GT Uirapuru seen in my last article, the shiny plastic hubcaps are indeed appropriate for this model, as the real car had them.

The real Malzoni GT was only produced in about 35 examples, and a majority of these were racing cars. Only a handful were the road cars that Rino Malzoni dreamed of. In 1966, Jorge Lettry joined Lumimari after watching Marinho Masteguin depart and very quickly became close friends with Malzoni. Lettry also believed that the buying public should have more access to the car, and indeed suggested a commercial name for Malzoni’s car: Puma. In 1967, the DKW Puma GT was briefly worked on before Puma broke free of any manufacturer, going on to become Brazil’s most famous domestic sports car manufacturer. If you’re interested in historical sports car firsts, or indeed sports cars with very strange engines, then the Malzoni GT is a no-brainer. The model that I received had both screws holding the baseplate very loose, but a quick tightening with a screwdriver fixed the problem.

Nearly two months after receiving those two wonderful cars, I got a package containing two more: this time the 1968 Volkswagen 1600 four-door saloon and the 1980 Ford Corcel II coupe. After getting an accompanying message from my contact that it would take him ten weeks to deliver the next package, I decided to switch suppliers. In the meantime, however, I was presented with two very interesting models.

The first of these two models was the 1968 Volkswagen 1600 four-door saloon. This was the Brazilian version of the Volkswagen Type 3 notchback and mechanically, it was very close. However, since it was meant to compete with the Willys Gordini, the brand new Chevrolet Opala, and to a lesser degree the Aero Willys 2600, it had to be a four-door saloon. To facilitate an extra two rear doors, the car was completely restyled. The result in real life could be best described as hideous and indeed possibly the ugliest car in Brazilian history. It had strange, irrational curves, ugly rectangular headlamps, and an odd, boxy shape that earned it the nickname “Zé do Caixão”, roughly translated as Coffin Joe. This name was derived from a Brazilian film character of the same name who was a sadistic undertaker and who generally looked like a cross between Bela Lugosi’s Count Dracula and popular depictions of Jack the Ripper. Apparently, only a madman would style a car as the Volkswagen 1600 was styled, and its appearance jokingly inspired horror. Unfortunately for Volkswagen do Brasil, the car’s ugly styling led to its downfall in 1971. Fortunately, however, with the Fusca (Beetle) selling well and the Volkswagen 1600TL fastback and the Volkswagen Variant station wagon, both based on the Type 3, selling well, Volkswagen do Brasil was able to weather the storm, always being much more conservative in its styling after the 1600 debacle.

Although the model captures the general spirit of the infamous Volkswagen 1600 well, it’s not without flaws. Most notable among these is the passenger cabin being ever so slightly too small, which leads to a sense of the rest of the car being a bit oversized, especially around the wheels. The wheels themselves are also a tad off, though not by much. However, their look is exacerbated by the shiny hubcaps, which in this situation look quite inappropriate. Although I typically make excuses for models with visible ‘pupils’ on the headlamps, the Volkswagen Variant also featured in Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil has no ‘pupils’, despite having the exact same front fascia. Likewise, the hubcaps on the Variant are a dull grey colour, minimising their being slightly too large. Sadly, the Volkswagen 1600 must be put into the flawed category, although it is by no means a really poor model, and indeed, it represents a car that could best be described as Brazil’s Edsel. Painting the hubcaps grey and the headlights silver would likely solve a number of the model’s issues.

The second model I received in my package was truly stunning however, both as a real car and as a model. In 1978, Ford do Brasil finally decided to remove the popular Corcel from production and replace it with a modernised version: the Ford Corcel II coupe. Much like the original Corcel, the Corcel II was famously built on a Renault 12 platform, in spite of all kinds of American, British, and German styling cues. This was because when Ford do Brasil bought out Willys Overland do Brasil, they inherited a car called Project M, which was to be based on the locally-assembled Renault 12 saloon. Ford saw to it that the Renault 12 never arrived in Brazil, but that its platform did, if only to complete the highly-competitive Project M. Project M evolved into the famous Ford Corcel, which in turn became the Ford Corcel II in 1978. The Corcel II only came as a two-door saloon, officially, although it was generally billed as a coupe by dealers and also became a coupe in the minds of many buyers. Notably, the Corcel II was a lot lighter than any version of the original Corcel. Although at a theoretical speed advantage at first, the price of gasoline was skyrocketing in Brazil when the Corcel II was released. As such, its 1.4 litre four-cylinder engine was downrated from 75 horsepower all the way to 55 horsepower.

Another option done away with on the Corcel II that was present on the original Corcel was a four-door saloon option. Ford do Brasil simply gave the two-door coupe (or saloon) very long doors in case anyone wished to use it as a small family car. The car’s station wagon version, the Belina II, was given a similar treatment with regard to its long doors, although no four-door option had existed on the original Belina. The car would go through various treatments from 1978 to 1986, when it was finally discontinued. Although nowhere near the powerful pony car that the original Corcel was, the Corcel II was and is certainly a Brazilian cult car with a great deal of interest in it; after all, despite its styling and being a Ford, the car is seen as distinctly Brazilian.

Given the Corcel II’s wide variety of variants and wide appeal, it’s interesting that Ixo chose the car they copied: a model offered only in 1980, judging by the chrome trim and front and rear bumper overriders. Remarkably well-executed, the Corcel II also takes us back to the dull grey plastic wheels that were well-received on earlier issues. A number of parts are shared with the Ford Belina II two-door station wagon from earlier in the Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil partwork. Since the only issue with that model was its rear badging, the Corcel II really turned out well. Just about the only complaint lodged against it were its black, vacant wing mirrors. Still possessing the recess necessary for someone to insert their own reflective surfaces, a touch of bright foil cut to fit the mirrors would make this car next to perfect. Personally, of the eleven models I’m writing about, I have to confess that this one is probably my favourite.

Soon after the package with the Volkswagen 1600 and Ford Corcel II arrived, so did my very first model from my new supplier: a 1988 Chevrolet Monza four-door family saloon. Now, you readers in the UK, US, and Germany are probably going to recognise this car as very familiar. It’s really nothing more than a rebadged Vauxhall Cavalier Mk II, Chevrolet Cavalier, or Opel Ascona C. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Chevrolet Monza received more of the same critical acclaim that accompanied the Cavalier and the Ascona C. This was a car that first appeared, a little strangely, as a three-door hatchback, but the four-door saloon body style proved far more popular. It was facelifted several times and had three different four-cylinder engines: the 1.6 litre and 1.8 litre that were familiar to were familiar to buyers of the Cavalier and the Ascona, and, beginning in 1988, a two litre version that represented the top of the line. The depicted model is the 1988 Chevrolet Monza 2.0, and is appropriately badged as such. But wait, you ask, didn’t I call this car disappointing? As a matter of fact, I did.

Another two partworks that share a number of components with Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil were launched first in Colombia and then in Chile. Both were much smaller in scope, but used the same moulds in many cases. Most Brazilian hobbyists assumed that the Colombian Monza, which was actually a model that predated 1988, was going to be in the Brazilian partwork. After all, the Colombian Monza was in reality a Brazilian-built car. It had dull grey, very nicely-executed hubcaps, highly-detailed taillights, a rich forest green colour, and reflective wing mirrors. After the Corcel II, it really wasn’t that hard to believe that we would see this model in Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil. However, we most assuredly did not.

The Monza we received was a lighter green with a later-style grille, both of which are perfectly acceptable. What isn’t acceptable, given the numerous and inexpensive Colombian models one could buy off eBay for less than $25 USD, were the hubcaps, the tail lights, and the wing mirrors. The tail lights, as you can see in the picture, are coloured solid red. Contrast this with the four-colour taillights fitted to the less expensive Colombian Monza. Moving along to the wing mirrors, you can see that while they have indentations for a person wanting to fit foil there, they’re not detailed. As with painting the red taillights, one can of course detail the wing mirrors with a bit of foil. The real problem was and still is the hubcaps. Not only were the hubcaps a fairly annoying loud shiny plastic not particularly suited to a 1980s family saloon, but they aren’t actually period-correct. These hubcaps were fitted to models made from 1990 onwards.

Normally, these would be minor errors that a collector could overlook. They would be fodder for nitpickers, of course, but a collector intent on having a Chevy Monza could probably overlook them if not for the presence of a car that was and still is actually about half the price of the sub-par Brazilian model. This isn’t a model that’s poor or even terrible. On its own, it’s actually a very good representation of the 1988-96 version of the Chevrolet Monza that you can still see on the streets of Brazil, and, by the time this article is published, some of you doubtless will have seen in Brazil thanks to going there to see some World Cup football. However, it is absolutely inexcusable to have a less expensive model released of the same car with more details and charging double for the ‘economy’ version that actually contains an additional error with the hubcaps. To me, that’s just being sloppy and cutting corners where completely unnecessary. I don’t and can’t recommend this model, although I heartily recommend either the Colombian or Chilean versions of the car, which are a darker shade of green and, because they’re a bit earlier, have the Chevrolet logo in the middle of the grille rather than atop it.

Following the decidedly sour experience with the Chevrolet Monza, I was really ready for a very nice model. Fortunately for me, I got one. The 1982 Miura Targa coupe is one of the nicest models in Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil to date. It depicts the beautiful Miura Targa; the shark-like, much more squared-off successor to the Miura Sport that was featured earlier in the partwork. Indeed, it’s really a very similar car when it comes to the underpinnings and size. However, it has been restyled in two very significant ways. First, it has lost a great deal of the Lotus Esprit influence on the actual bodywork, something that is still noticeable around the front end, but as soon as you hit the a-pillar, you’ve got a completely different car in terms of styling inspiration. Second, although the name indicates that it might be a Targa-type car, it’s actually a got T-bar on top (Something we Americans are used to calling a T-top.). Those two panels you see over each one of the seats are removable on the real car. Unfortunately they are moulded in place on the model, but I can see some enterprising individual cutting and sawing the roof and windows to get himself a really nice model. The name is actually meant to evoke the Targa Florio race, not the top of the car.

What’s really remarkable about the Miura Targa, though, at least to me, is how they went about making a silk purse out of a real sow’s ear. This car was powered by a four-cylinder, 1.6 litre Volkswagen engine. Granted, they gave it a Weber two-barrel carb, but still, it’s really the same engine you’d find under the bonnet of a Volkswagen Passat B1. The horsepower output is up, though. You’ve got 87 horsepower propelling a car that has a kerb weight of just over 2,000 lbs. The result, of course, is that your car can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 12.8 seconds. That’s not spectacular, but given the engine and a bit of tuning, I have no doubt that time could be improved upon. Likewise, you’ve got a top speed from the factory of just over 106 mph. Did I mention this car has front-wheel drive and in stock configuration gets 28.6 miles to the US gallon and 34.3 miles to the imperial gallon? Miura was going for fuel efficiency when they built this car. Tuning it and sacrificing a bit of that fuel efficiency to give it a higher top speed, more horsepower, and better acceleration was something that was apparently done to these cars with some pretty impressive results.

Unlike the Chevrolet Monza model, the real Miura Targa really did have nice-looking shiny hubcaps, which are recreated in brilliant detail on Ixo’s model. A ‘blink and miss it’ detail is that the wing mirrors really do have a reflective surface, which is unfortunately a moot point due to them being silver in the first place. The badging, taillights, and even the fog lamps are all there, wonderfully detailed. If there were only one thing I could change about this model, it would of course be a working top with detachable inserts, but this being a partwork, we beggars can’t afford to be choosers and the rest of the model is brilliant enough.

Understandably, the Miura Targa was a very difficult act to follow, but somehow, Ixo did manage a very nice follow-up in the 1991 Gurgel BR-800SL city car. The Gurgel BR-800SL was the brainchild of Brazil’s most internationally-known and most controversial automotive engineer: João Amaral Gurgel. Whether one believes the man to have been a shyster, someone ahead of his time, a brilliant engineer who was simply very much out of touch with the rest of the world, or even all three is something I’ll leave up to you. Much as with the Malzoni GT, however, one must understand the man to understand his car.

João Amaral Gurgel was by trade an engineer, and a very good one at that. Prior to working in the automotive industry, Gurgel had been a plastics engineer and he gained a great deal of experience with fibreglass and how it could interact with steel. Indeed, Gurgel worked briefly as part of the team that built the Malzoni GT fibreglass body, although he had no part in designing it. Regardless, the Malzoni GT was truly an inspiration to Gurgel, who both loved cars and loved Brazilian cars. By that, I mean he had a bit of a nationalistic air about him. To Gurgel, the Malzoni GT versus the Willys Interlagos represented the Brazilian David to the Interlagos’s Franco-American Goliath. Gurgel didn’t actually start designing cars until 1969, which is when he designed the Gurgel Xavante buggy, previously featured in this partwork. After half a decade of success with Xavante and its new technologies such as Plasteel and Selectraction, Gurgel decided to focus his energy on building a Brazilian everyman’s car. The result was the Gurgel Itaipu E150, the very first electric car built in Brazil. Unfortunately for Gurgel, the vehicle was of terrible quality and reliability, and he didn’t attempt another vehicle of the same class until 1981. Powered by a more powerful and more orthodox Volkswagen 1.6 litre engine, the Gurgel XEF was an awkward, tiny vehicle that presented even more problems. Gurgel again took a significant time to develop an SUV known as the Gurgel Carajás, which employed many of the principles used in his Xavante buggy, as well as something known as the Tork Tubing System to transfer power from the engine to the transmission while better balancing the vehicle. However, the Carajás was considered by most to be a failure, only succeeding because it had no competition, thanks to Brazil’s strict protectionist policy when it came to imported cars, or, rather, complete lack thereof.

João Amaral Gurgel loved the protectionist policy both as a nationalist and a businessman. With the Carajás to his name, he set out to finally develop a completely Brazilian-designed everyman’s car. Project CENA began in 1986, with the acronym standing for Carro Econômico Nacional, or “National Economy Car”. Declared finished in 1987, Project CENA produced a car called the Gurgel 280, but it was quickly named the Gurgel BR-800. The ‘800’ referred to the bizarre two-cylinder engine, which was almost literally a Volkswagen four-cylinder engine that was cut in half! Many internal parts could actually interchange with the Volkswagen engine, and Gurgel, never a man to waste an opportunity to give something even marginally new a creative and futuristic name, dubbed it the Enertron. This joined the vehicle’s body, which was made of Plasteel, a mixture of fibreglass and steel, and the vehicle’s suspension, which was made of a high number of stiff, synthetic components and called Springshock. Presumably, the vehicle’s four-speed manual transmission didn’t do enough to deserve its own outlandish name.

A truly tiny vehicle, it was intended to be spacious inside despite its size and was marketed as a city car. However, Gurgel believed that in time, with the proper marketing, he could achieve the same thing Volkswagen had done in Germany with the Beetle! One sneaky marketing tactic was the very system by which one could obtain a Gurgel BR-800. Advertisements boasted that the BR-800 was the cheapest new-production car in Brazil. It retailed for the equivalent of about $5,000 USD, whereas the Chevrolet Chevette, the previous holder of the title of ‘cheapest new car in Brazil’, cost $7,000 USD. However, there was a catch. To promote its image as a ‘people’s car’, one had also to buy 750 shares of Gurgel stock in order to obtain the car itself. Those 750 stock shares cost another $5,000 USD, making the car’s true cost double the advertised MSR. Although it was a one-time-only fee and if someone’s Gurgel BR-800 failed and they bought another new, they did not have to pay for a further 750 shares, it was still essentially lying about the car’s price. Regardless, the car also had the lowest tax rate of any car in Brazil.

The Gurgel BR-800 had a lot of problems, however. For example, nearly everyone, even Gurgel, believed the car to be underpowered. It put out just 32 horsepower and had a top speed of only 68 mph. Furthermore, the Springshock suspension system, while economical and reliable, was also horribly uncomfortable. The stiffness inherent to Springshock made the driver and passengers feel every bump in the road. From a safety point of view, the car was too small and the windows, which were made of flat glass to make up for the expensive body, were incredibly dangerous if broken. Taking a dim view of it, I suppose that if something like a Volkswagen Passat B1 or Alfa Romeo FNM 2300 came along and wiped out a BR-800, the passengers probably wouldn’t have to worry about the glass, anyway. By July 1990, with sales and production slow, Brazilian President Fernando Collor drove what was essentially the first nail into the BR-800’s coffin by equalising the tax on all Brazilian cars with an engine smaller than one litre. Collor shortly afterward drove another nail into the car’s coffin by removing the entire protectionist system on Brazilian cars. Although an imported car often carried an 85% tax, it was at least possible to get one into the country.

Reeling from the automotive reforms introduced by Collor, Gurgel countered with the BR-800SL. At last given a more powerful engine, improved styling, and better quality control, it was too late. The BR-800SL sold terribly in both 1991 and 1992. Between the two cars, only about 4,000 were made, an average of 1,000 cars per year of production. Gurgel attempted to replace the car with the more conventional Gurgel Supermini, but his efforts were in vain. Nearly $1.2 billion in debt, Gurgel finally went under in 1994, and its popular inventor died in 2009.

Ixo have reproduced the little BR-800SL beautifully, at least if one considers the BR-800SL a beautiful car. Perhaps ‘well-modelled’ would be a better term, as the BR-800SL truly gives the Volkswagen 1600 saloon a run for its money in the ‘ugliest car in Brazil’ department. As with the Miura Targa, the BR-800SL is extremely well-detailed. It also has a better fit and finish to it than any other car in the partwork that I feature in this article. Small details like the strange little release handles at the back of the doors as well as the mould lines in the Plasteel panels are recreated wonderfully. The BR-800SL’s hilariously small boot is also recreated very nicely, the headlamps, taillights, and turn signals are all wonderfully reproduced, we get actual reflective mirrors, and the only complaint some may have are the shiny plastic hubcaps, although the shape is captured perfectly.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Miura Targa and BR-800SL were very hard acts to follow. Indeed, the act following them received a mixed response amongst collectors: a 1990 Ford Escort XR3 1.8 three-door hatchback. Much as it is in Britain and Germany, the XR3 is the ‘hot hatch’ version of the standard Ford Escort. Understandably, this made it a very popular sports car in gasoline-poor Brazil and an excellent seller for Ford. The actual mould for this model seems fairly good and captures some American features in the car’s front fascia and rear bumper not present in the British and German XR3. I also liked this one, because the car I grew up with was my father’s 1989 Ford Escort LX Station Wagon, a four-door estate car version of something very similar to this car. However, there were three issues that were controversial amongst collectors.

The first feature seen as problematic was the model’s sunroof. Although tinted nearly black on the real car, many collectors felt that the black tampo-printing on a special background wasn’t adequate for capturing the look of the sunroof. The illusion actually does work well, until you pick up the car and look upwards at it. Coming in second was the car’s lack of fog lamps. Although I was able to find a few identical cars by searching a number of Brazilian automotive sale websites, I could count them on one hand. Why the model lacks fog lamps is absolutely beyond me, especially since Ixo was starting with a new casting and was looking at pictures of cars that primarily had fog lamps. They were optional to delete, but most people didn’t delete them. I hereby posit the theory that, given the lack of a sunroof as well as fog lamps, that Ixo was simply planning a regular Escort until very late in mould development until the people at Planeta DeAgostini changed their minds and wanted an XR3. Some people really had issues with the complex hubcaps being given the chrome plastic treatment. The general feeling was that the hubcaps were far too shiny, to the point where they actually detracted from the look of the car. Proponents of the model pointed out that it the hubcaps were at least palatable and that Ixo had also given the car detailed wing mirrors and tai llights, in addition to correct badging. Naysayers pointed to quality control issues with the car’s base, which in my case was so bad that I changed my usual policy of showing how the car arrived and compressing the base in padded vice jaws to straighten it out. However, everyone agreed that the next car was, while a solid model, completely inappropriate for the partwork.

Following the 1990 Ford Escort XR3 was a car that purported to be a 1985 Volkswagen Santana four-door family saloon. These were very popular in Brazil during the 1980s and clashed with the Chevrolet Diplomata and Ford Del Rey for sales. Aside from a slightly high ride height (thanks to oversized tyres), blank wing mirrors, and shiny hubcaps, it should have been a good model. Unfortunately, one look at the car’s silver-coloured bumper tops tells one all they need to know about this car: it’s not Brazilian. Instead, it’s Chinese. Perhaps the problem of designing and building a model in China is that if a model differs in a minor detail on a Chinese vehicle that’s otherwise identical, the Chinese just might recreate that detail. The car we see here is an extremely early Shanghai Volkswagen Santana 1.6L four-door saloon, and a pretty good model of one, too. I hope we see this car in the French Taxis du Monde series, as a Shanghai or Beijing taxi given the huge number of these cars still in service as Chinese taxis. However, when you’re producing a Brazilian partwork and promising a Brazilian car, it might be a good idea to deliver a model of the Brazilian version of the Volkswagen Santana, instead of the Chinese version.

I suppose I’m unique in my liking for the Shanghai Volkswagen Santana. It was the People’s Republic of China’s very first successful ‘joint venture car’, in which it launched the famous Shanghai Volkswagen joint venture. Though it lacks Chinese badging, the earliest Santanas in China likewise had no external Chinese badging. Famous in the PRC as one of the country’s longest-lasting cars,made locally from 1985-2013,only one 1:43 scale promotional model of it has been made so far that has actually been called a Shanghai Volkswagen Santana, with the Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil model being the second 1:43 Shanghai Volkswagen Santana marketed under any name. As such, we have a woefully under-represented car finally seeing the light of day in 1:43 scale, but in the wrong partwork, representing the wrong country. Regardless of its status as the partwork’s sole interloper (The Fiat Uno Mille and Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia really did have some Brazilian-only features, such as badging), I really like this car. It’s too bad that it had to come about like this.

Expectations of Brazilian collectors were perhaps understandably low for the next model, the 1989 Chevrolet Marajó 1.6 SLE two-door estate wagon, but the model turned out very nicely. It represents the last hurrah of the Chevrolet Chevette in Brazil. The Chevette itself had been discontinued in 1988, but its estate wagon counterpart, the Chevrolet Marajó, remained in production for one more year. The Marajó 1.6 SLE represented the top trim level and engine level available in that final year, and also shows the car’s last grille: a very plain affair without the Chevrolet badge. Intended as both a family car and a utility wagon, the Marajó was just bit more expensive than the Chevette proper, and while inexpensive, was in general very well-liked. Interestingly, the first car that I am not featuring in this article, due to lack of time, the 1991 Chevrolet Ipanema, replaced the Marajó as Chevrolet’s small family and utility wagon.

The model is a good one, and replicates the 1989 Chevrolet Marajó 1.6 SLE very nicely. Dull grey plastic wheels finally made a return on this model, which oddly features no hubcaps. Although this is of course realistic for a car that has been driven around a bit, it is somewhat surprising to see on a model. The grille, headlamps, tail lights, turn signals, wing mirrors, and even the rear view mirror on the inside are detailed nicely and present the image of a nice working man’s estate wagon that is just as likely to be hauling around trade goods as it is the man’s family.

The final car I’m featuring in this article, and the second estate wagon, is a curious choice, but also a good one: a 1991 Fiat Elba four-door station wagon. Basically, this was the Fiat Uno as an estate car. Ignore the bit about ‘1986’ on the display plinth. The model represents a 1991 Fiat Elba; the 1986 model had a black-coloured grille, square headlamps, and different bumpers and trim. Very much in stark contrast to the Marajó 1.6 SLE, the Elba four-door station wagon is clearly a family car and both the internal and external details reflect this. Powered by an ethanol engine, the Fiat Elba was built for economy and the interior provides a stark contrast with that found on the Chevy Marajó 1.6 SLE.

The actual model of the car does a good job on the whole. The wing mirrors are correctly detailed. The tail light detail is a bit off, but the lights are at least shaped correctly. Likewise, although the hubcaps are made of dull grey plastic and well-detailed, they represent aftermarket replacements that, while common, they don’t represent the car as it came from the factory. Still, both of these are easy for me to swallow. The ill-fitting grille emblem is in my mind the greatest concern, although the rest of the model is fine. When viewed side-on, it really is a nice contrast to the bombardment of two-door estate cars we’ve been seeing in Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil. I would certainly recommend it if you’re okay with the grille emblem, the tail lights (which can be repainted anyway), and the aftermarket hubcaps.

This brings me to the second part of the article: a brief overview of Willys Overland do Brasil and Ford do Brasil products featured prior to this series of articles, and which I could only briefly touch upon in my first article. Namely, these are the 1968 Willys Rural Willys estate wagon, 1974 Ford Maverick GT coupe, 1982 Ford Del Rey Ouro two-door saloon, 1978 Ford F100 Pickup, 1965 Willys Gordini four-door saloon, 1970 Ford Corcel coupe, 1967 Ford Galaxie 500 four-door saloon, 1980 Ford Belina II two-door station wagon, and 1963 Willys Interlagos coupe. I was strongly considering an overview of Volkswagen products, but then I remembered the intense World Cup football rivalry between number two-ranked Germany and number three-ranked Brazil and decided to save it for the next issue.

I actually did devote quite a bit of time to two of the above-mentioned models in my first article: the 1967 Ford Galaxie 500 four-door saloon and the 1968 Willys Rural Willys estate wagon. At the time, I wrote that they were in my top five models that we’d seen so far for the partwork. Nothing has changed that for me. The 1967 Ford Galaxie 500, which is nothing more than a 1966 US-spec Ford Galaxie 500, was Brazil’s executive car for nearly a decade and a half. The model reproduces it brilliantly and really doesn’t have any problems. As for the Willys Rural, this was Brooks Stevens’ reworking of his initial, quite famous Willys Jeep Station Wagon for the Brazilian market; hence the split grille for a bit of uniformity with the Willys Aero Willys 2600. Again, you can’t go wrong with this model.

You may of course be wondering why I’m featuring Willys Overland do Brasil and Ford do Brasil together. As mentioned, the latter acquired the former and, in the cases of the Willys Rural, Aero Willys 2600, and Willys Itamaraty, just kept on producing the cars unaltered. However, there have been two ‘pre-Ford’ Willys designs that have been featured so far. The 1965 Willys Gordini four-door saloon is, in my mind, the best representation of the Renault Dauphine in 1:43 scale. Essentially, what Willys did was to order a bunch of Renault Dauphine complete knockdown kits, modify the bumpers, and rebadge the car as the Willys Gordini. The Gordini was in the process of being withdrawn from the market and replaced by the Renault 12 when Ford do Brasil took over and famously turned the Renault 12 into the Ford Corcel.

The other pre-Ford Willys product so far in Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil is the 1963 Willys Interlagos coupe. Basically, this car is an Alpine A108 rebadged as a Willys, with the name derived from the Interlagos race track. A rear-engined car, it dominated the Brazilian racing circuit almost unopposed until the Malzoni GT came along. It was very much a European-style sports car. Ixo’s model of the Interlagos solves the problem found on the Norev model of poor ride height and overly flared rear wings. Unfortunately, the front wings on the Ixo model are a bit too open and somewhat misshapen. Because neither model is perfect, I would say to just go with whichever is less expensive and more available for you.

The 1974 Ford Maverick GT, 1978 Ford F100, and 1982 Ford Del Rey Ouro are all really, really nicely done models. However, you can probably get them without spending an excessive amount of money on shipping thanks to the fact that Premium X Diecast has made all of them. The Ford Maverick GT is generally considered to be Brazil’s king of the road during the mid to late 1970s, and featured a 302 cubic inch Ford V8 engine. Available in yellow and blue from the Premium X Diecast line and orange from Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil, some of the latter have two of the same tail lights fitted, with one inverted. It’s actually not really noticeable unless you’re looking for it, but for that reason, I recommend the Premium X diecast version, even if it does come with incorrect US number plates.

The 1978 Ford F100 pickup is nearly identical in design to the US 1972 Ford F100 and can easily pass for it, making it a must for an American pickup truck collector. The Premium X Diecast versions are white with no cover for the cargo bed and orange and white with a cover. The partwork version of the pickup is red and white with no cover. If you’re going to buy one from the Brazilian partwork, however, just be careful to watch for the rear of the cab to be fitted properly. Apparently, the blue and white trucks found in the Chilean and Colombian partworks have better quality control, but I can’t speak for that first hand.

Finally, the 1982 Ford Del Rey Ouro was a two-door saloon, meant to compliment the Ford Corcel II coupe, which lasted into the early 1990s. The Del Rey Ouro, the highest trim level, has a large number of styling features in common with the Corcel II and can be had either in bronze from the partwork or in grey from Premium X Diecast. Note that I recommend against the Premium X Diecast police version, as the livery is completely incorrect. While a somewhat boxy and boring car, the styling is typical of late 1970s Detroit and I’m sure a few readers will be able to detect the Ford Granada in it. It was also Ford’s main offering in Brazil during the 1980s.

That leaves us with the 1970 Ford Corcel coupe and the 1980 Ford Belina II two-door estate wagon. Both are derivatives of the Renault 12-based Project M that Ford inherited from Willys Overland do Brasil. The 1970 Ford Corcel was basically intended to fill the market niche that was filled in the US by first the early model Ford Mustang and then the early model Ford Maverick. It wasn’t really a Pony Car, per se, but it was sporty and had pretty solid performance. ‘Corcel’ in Portuguese literally means ‘charger’, as in a charging horse, so the link was certainly made between the Corcel and the Mustang and despite having a four-door saloon version and a two-door estate version, the two-door Corcel coupe as Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil issued it is very much evocative of the ‘Brazilian Mustang’ image that came to be attached to the Corcel coupe. It is an excellent model and I would highly recommend it.

The 1980 Ford Belina II was the station wagon version of the Corcel II featured earlier in this article. A bit more subdued, it can represent a wider variety of cars thanks to having bumpers without any over-riders. Well-executed in almost all ways, it shares a great many parts with the Corcel II as a model, like the real car. Really one of my favourites, it only has one flaw, and that is the badging on the rear not being quite right. If you can put up with that, then I have no doubt you’ll enjoy this car as much as I do.

So, we’ve finally come to the end (I’m sure you were wondering) for now and I sincerely look forward to more cars, more photos, and your feedback. Keep on collecting and 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 and also, what you think of the model or models you purchased. Thanks very much!


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Brazilian Wheels II

American Saloons, Brazilian Sports Cars, and a Clunker

by John-William Greenbaum

When my article Brazilian Wheels was published in the previous issue of Model Auto Review, I was pleased and surprised at the warm response!  The requests for a second article, and even more, to follow the Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil partwork feature were truly flattering, an honour, and a request that I will definitely fulfil. With so many cars released, however, it will be necessary to look back at some of the many issues I glossed over in the first article. For me, it is the real car’s history that often inspires me to buy a model of it.  So, as well as  reviewing the four new releases that have recently appeared, and touching on the two that I have not yet received in the mail, I feel it is necessary to revisit the cars by type.  Inspired by the review of the 1964 Brasinca 4200GT Uirapuru, I have decided that covering the sports cars and dune buggies in the partwork would be appropriate for this issue as well.

I will start with the cars we have seen released since the last issue of Model Auto Review.  Shortly before the online magazine went to ‘press,’ I received a package with two brand-new models from Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil: a 1964 Brasinca 4200GT Uirapuru coupe and a 1971 Chevrolet Opala 2500 Especial four-door saloon.  Ironically, one of the partwork’s flaws was demonstrated at this point, its unpredictability, as I was expecting to receive the 1969 Willys-by-Ford Itamaraty luxury saloon alongside the Brasinca.  Neither model disappointed, however.

In the case of the 1964 Brasinca 4200GT Uirapuru, I have a hunch that many British car enthusiasts will get the distinct feeling of ‘Hey, I know that one!’  Due to its visual similarity to the Jensen Interceptor, the Brasinca is often assumed to be a copy.  This is not the case, as the Brasinca predated the Interceptor by two full years.  Though they receive all kinds of flak from the Jensen Owners Club, for reasons not fully clear to me, the cars really are only stylistically similar.  The car’s designer, a Spaniard named Rigoberto Soler Gisbert, apparently pitched the idea to Willys (who of course made the Interlagos) before forming Brasinca.  His intention seemed to be along the lines of producing an American-style sports car, rather than a Brazilian Jensen.  The Chevrolet six-cylinder engine under the Brasinca’s bonnet could put out 155 horsepower in a car made of high-quality steel.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, when one measures the displacement of that engine, they get fairly close to 4200cc, which probably explained the car’s numeric designation. The name Uirapuru is actually derived from a bird known for its beautiful song.

One aspect of the Brasinca that isn’t present on the Jensen Interceptor, but appears on the Chevrolet Corvette C2, are the doors.  The overhang on top of the roof where the door curls over on the top is clearly evocative of the Corvette, and is beautifully captured on the Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil partwork model.  Another Corvette feature is the minimal boot space. Note the small boot lid that brings to mind a 1962 Chevrolet Corvette much more than it does a Jensen Interceptor, where the Jensen’s unique, folding ‘bubble’ served as boot.  Rather than a Brazilian Jensen, it’s my contention that these cars were meant to be Brazilian Corvettes.

In hindsight, perhaps Rigoberto Soler Gisbert would have been better off hooking on to a major manufacturer such as Willys Overland do Brasil.  Unfortunately, just 73 of these sleek coupes were produced before production halted in 1966. Each one was handmade.

So, how did Ixo do in recreating this Brazilian Corvette?  If one even ignores the fact that Ixo produced a very rare, scarcely-seen variation of the Brasinca, they actually did a very nice job.  After we ended the last article with the Miura Sport, we now see that the plastic bits on the Brasinca have graduated to a better-looking finish.  Rather than using a dull grey plastic for the trim, a much shinier type of plastic was employed for parts such as the wheels, the wing mirror, and the grille and plastic trim.  Some may feel that this cheapens a partwork car, but for a machine meant to be gleaming to begin with, I believe it suits the Brasinca extremely well.  We also have the issue of making a Brasinca 4200GT Uirapuru that may not be completely familiar, even to Brazilians.  See the solitary wing mirror on the driver’s side?  Typically during production, this had a companion on the passenger side front wing; but the earliest cars produced, as can be seen both in promotional shots and early advertising for the car, do indeed have only one wing mirror.  Given how wide the Brasinca was, it was quite similar in dimensions to the Jensen Interceptor, this probably gave the car a pretty big blind spot.  Can we really fault Ixo, however, for being faithful to a prototype that really did exist?  In the end, the Brasinca 4200GT Uirapuru becomes both the first really large domestic Brazilian sports car to be featured in Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil and also the first American-style GT along the lines of a Corvette.  Judging by the effort that went into this one, I really hope that we see it as a Premium X Diecast model, as it is something quite special.

I also said that I received a second model, a 1971 Chevrolet Opala 2500 Especial four-door saloon.  Unlike the ‘in-your-face’ blue colour and brashness of the Brasinca, this dull beige Opala, the third example we have seen in the partwork, is much more conservative (dare I say the most conservative Opala, as well?).  It should be noted that although this will supposedly be the final Opala released, it’s also the earliest design that’s been produced. It is really here, with this car, that you get a sense of just what the Opala was supposed to be: an Opel Rekord C with the engine, the front clip, and some of the trim from a 1969 Chevy Nova. While the Opala SS grabbed the attention of just about anyone able to afford it and the Comodoro and Diplomata gained reputations for luxury, it was the basic stock Opala that was Chevrolet’s backbone. The other Opala variants came and went, but standard cars such as this one were always available from 1969 through 1992.

Fitted with a 153 cubic inch straight four engine, as it would be until 1973, and before the famous Pontiac Iron Duke would be mated with the Opala, the 2500 Especial was, in spite of its name, the bottom-of-the-line Opala.  Still, it was a nice car, and the same shiny plastic on the model that may have some collectors grumbling is an accurate reflection of the amount of chrome that General Motors wanted to go into the Opala.  This, they advertised, was no European box on wheels, but rather an American saloon, just downsized for the local market.  It is also easy to see why the Opala lasted as long as it did, if we look at this car, as it combined the best of Chevrolet in the United States with the best of Opel in Germany.

How did Ixo do with their model? Well, I would give it a near-perfect grade if there wasn’t missing one important bit that quality control apparently overlooked: the dashboard (including the steering column) was not included in my example. Although I have since fashioned a pretty good replacement using a damaged Opel Rekord C for parts, it would have been nice to have received the steering wheel and dashboard with the car.  Such is the hazard of collecting partwork models.  The actual lines and colour are superb, and the car seems to have had a lot of research put into it. If you’re going out of your way to look for a drab, boring, American-style saloon from the late 1960s or early 1970s, the Opala 2500 Especial is perfect! Then again, some 1:43 scale collectors such as myself actually do get a bit tired of all the bling from this era offered to us by the manufacturers, and might find this family car a nice antidote to the usual muscle car and pony car fare from the same era. Beware of one thing, however: on the display plinth, it says ‘Chevrolet Opala 2500 (1969)’.  In actuality, the car is a 1971 model. Although this was the first time I received a model with the wrong year in this partwork, it turns out that this wasn’t the first time it has happened.

As I mentioned, I received these partwork issues in an unexpected order.  The Brasinca 4200GT Uirapuru and Chevrolet Opala 2500 were followed up (allegedly) by the 1967 Willys Itamaraty luxury saloon and the 1983 Volkswagen Parati estate wagon. By the time this article goes to ‘press,’ I’ll also have in my possession, as they’re currently on their way to my house, a 1966 Willys Aero Willys 2600 four-door saloon (another American-style, conservative saloon) and a 1964 DKW-Vemag Malzoni GT Coupe (another front-engined sports car, this one much more European in style and function than the Brasinca 4200GT Uirapuru).  While it appears that the model years are correct for the Aero Willys and Malzoni GT, I believe that both of the other cars have the incorrect years printed on their display plinths.

The first of those two ‘incorrect’ cars is another conservative, if much more luxurious, American-style saloon called the Willys Itamaraty. Willys, you see, wasn’t quite dead in Brazil when it stopped making cars in the United States. The presses for the Willys Aero series were actually sold to Willys Overland do Brasil, and by 1960 they had the Willys Aero back in production.  As the design looked stylistically dated, Willys Overland do Brasil hired Brooks Stevens, the man who designed the Studebaker Lark, and charged him with giving the old Willys Aero a fairly significant facelift. The result, perhaps unsurprisingly, looked a lot like the offspring of a Studebaker Lark and a Willys Aero. Initially called the Willys Aero Willys, presumably named by the Department of Redundancy Department, it became pretty clear that a luxury version of the car was needed during the latter half of the 1960s. The result was the Willys Itamaraty.

The name ‘Itamaraty’ doesn’t really have an exact translation in English, but it connotes ‘foreign relations’ and dealing with other countries and is comparable with a moniker like Chrysler’s DeSoto Diplomat or their later Dodge Diplomat. As a car, the Itamaraty wasn’t mechanically different from the older Willys Aero Willys.  Instead, the changes were almost all cosmetic, with a black vinyl roof, whitewall tyres, a plush interior, so much chrome that you need a pair of sunglasses to look at it, and, at least in my opinion, a more stylish grille that lacked the distinctive split of the Willys Aero Willys. Fitted with the famous F-head six Willys Hurricane engine, the Itamaraty put out 132hp. Of course, many customers realised that the engine bay was large enough to put a Ford V8 under the bonnet.

Ixo’s representation of the Willys Itamaraty needs only one enhancement: whitewall tyres.  It has all the chrome in all the right places; it has the correct roof; it is finished in executive black, but again, Ixo gets it wrong on the display plinth. The car is not a 1967, but rather a 1969. In this particular case, that truly matters.

In late 1967, the Ford Motor Company moved to acquire Willys Overland do Brasil and merge it with Ford do Brasil. They’d already obtained a controlling interest in Kaiser Motors, and in 1968, Ford started advertising the cars as Willys by Ford.  As such, thanks to having a 1969 Willys Itamaraty resting on that display plinth, what you’ve got (or will soon have) in your collection is a Ford product. In fact, they actually rebadged the car as the ‘Ford Itamaraty’ in 1971. If you wanted the last independently-produced Willys saloon, you’re out of luck.  Fortunately, I think most collectors will find interesting the 1968-1970 timeframe during which there existed the brief ‘Willys by Ford’ arrangement, due to its transitional nature. I can also foresee a few collectors complaining about the roof and the body both being black, but a large number of Itamaratys were actually produced in all-black, so I must lodge a disagreement with these collectors. Get yourself a set of whitewalls and you’ve got a beautiful model. As an aside, in the next of this series, you’ll see a 1966 Willys Aero Willys 2600 four-door saloon in pale blue, and this time you won’t have to go hunting for tyres. I won’t say too much about it, but this was clearly the design that Brooks Stevens intended to replace the Willys Aero Willys he was tasked with facelifting, and it brings to mind a far more typical Brazilian Willys saloon.

I did mention a clunker in the title, didn’t I?  Unlike the obviously-American-styled saloons that were the Chevrolet Opala 2500 Especial and the Willys Itamaraty, and the beautiful Brasinca 4200GT Uirapuru, so realistic that you can almost hear that Chevy inline six, the dubious distinction of ‘clunker’ falls to the Volkswagen Parati estate wagon. Let me start out by saying that I really wanted to like this model. After all, the real car was the estate car version of the Volkswagen Gol, the car that displaced the Volkswagen Fusca (‘Beetle’) and the Volkswagen Brasilia as well, two of the most popular Volkswagens in Brazilian history. The Gol itself was wonderfully modelled, so therefore I assumed, the Parati would follow suit. Goodness, was I ever wrong!

Do you remember in the first article where I named my top five and my bottom five in the partwork to that date? Well, recall that in the bottom five was the later-model, silver-coloured Volkswagen Fusca from the 1980s, for the simple reason that it was a mishmash of two different cars. Ixo’s Parati isn’t quite as bad, but it still has problems: it takes parts from the first and second generation Volkswagen Paratis. Although it still captures the essence of the car, something the 1980s Fusca failed to do, it does have issues with the bonnet and the grille being from later models, the wheelbase being too long, and with the B-pillar, which is also clearly from a later car. Some collectors may also find the shiny hubcaps to be problematic, but on their own, I don’t see this as an issue. I personally find that the Parati’s treatment is a shame, especially given the rich, correct, deep red colour that would be right at home on a rural diorama. The subject matter is also absolutely fascinating. In conclusion: for the new models I’m reviewing here, we got three great cars and one that I really wish had turned out better.

Now, I also mentioned something about Brazilian sports cars. As I said earlier, I really wish I could have covered this partwork from the start, as I think that collectors of unique, indigenously-designed sports cars from far-flung locales are a market where this partwork will really catch on. I’m not talking about the Chevy Opala SS, Willys Interlagos, or Ford Maverick GT, they are factory-built, and more or less based on American or European designs. What I’m referring to are cars like the aforementioned Brasinca 4200GT Uirapuru, cars that are completely indigenous to Brazil. The 1973 Puma GTE was the first of these cars, and you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for an Italian sports car. Inspired by Lamborghini’s styling, Puma produced cars in the vein of the GTE throughout the 1970s. A small car, it could really ‘fly’, thanks to its fibreglass body. Apart from a handful of German internals (courtesy of Volkswagen), the Puma was pure Brazilian.  It was also one of the few Brazilian sports cars to be exported, and it did indeed gain in South Africa what we might call cult status, where it was assembled for five years.  The reason I mention the Puma GTE first is because its predecessor, the precursor to Puma as a manufacturer,the DKW-Vemag Malzoni GT, is forthcoming in a lovely stark white finish.

I have been asked questions about the other two local exclusives: the 1977 Miura Sport and the 1973 Volkswagen SP2. The Miura Sport was inspired very heavily by the Lotus Esprit, and someone else noted the resemblance. Apparently, the designer was very forthcoming about making the Miura Sport his interpretation of the Esprit when it came to styling, although the car was much smaller and ran very differently. With the larger Esprit, we see a typical European sports car. With the Miura Sport, what we see is a Volkswagen-based car with a lightweight body that reflects the best in Brazilian sports car design.  The really good news for those people that like this one is that we’re also going to see a 1982 Miura Targa, the Miura Sport’s successor. I also had someone ask me if Miura had anything to do with Lamborghini, and I pointed out that a Miura bull is the type of animal used in bullfighting, having nothing to do with Lamborghini other than sharing its name with one of their cars.

With the 1973 Volkswagen SP2, I know I promised I wouldn’t write about any European or American factory sports cars, but the SP2 is an exception.  It was Volkswagen’s attempt to produce a car like the Puma GTE, the Brasinca 4200GT Uirapuru, or the Malzoni GT, and it failed horrendously.  The car was sluggish, underpowered and weighed too much. The principle of using the running gear from an existing Volkswagen was incorporated by its designers. They designed a car meant to appeal to the same people who were buying Pumas, but it just could not perform up to expectations. The SP2 was, however, an indigenous Brazilian design. Nothing even remotely close to it appeared outside of Brazil, and there is nothing to indicate that Volkswagen planned to make similar sports cars outside Brazil.

As final note, as there is not much to cover in the way of dune buggies, just the Bugre I and the Gurgel Xavante,I thought I’d cover them here, as they are unique to Brazil, and in the case of the Gurgel Xavante, unique full stop.  The Bugre I is a very typical road-legal dune buggy that was made on Volkswagen underpinnings. I was a common sight on Brazilian coastal highways during the 1970s.  Watch the James Bond film Moonraker carefully and you’ll see a similar vehicle driving down a highway in a scene that was not staged.  Although it would be easier to classify these vehicles as merely ‘buggies’, I don’t think there’s really anything analogous to these vehicles outside Brazil, apart from dune buggies, which is why I’m going with the ‘road-legal dune buggy’ description. Although the Bugre I is a great representative example of these vehicles, I would honestly say the Gurgel Xavante is a more interesting one.

The Gurgel Xavante was designed by man named Joao Gurgel, who was quite a genius and an outside-the-box thinker. Gurgel introduced two innovations on his buggy known as Selectraction and Plasteel. Selectraction, intended only for the buggy, was a fascinating way of moving a stuck vehicle. By using a set of handbrakes, which Ixo brilliantly reproduced on their model of the Xavante, the driver could actually stop one of the rear wheels and send all power to the other, thereby spinning the vehicle around and getting a stuck wheel loose.  The other innovation was Plasteel, and this isn’t the last you’re going to read of it, as there is a Gurgel BR-800 city car planned for the partwork series Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil. Basically, Gurgel wanted the strength of steel without the rust, and the light weight of fibreglass without the warping, so he came up with a pretty clever fibreglass-metal composite that slowed down corrosion and resisted deforming to quite an extent. The problem with Plasteel was its high cost, meaning that Gurgel had to cut back on the rest of went into his designs to save on the final cost. With dune buggies, this wasn’t much of a problem. With the BR-800, well, let’s wait for that model to be released.

I really hope you enjoy reading about these remarkable Brazilian vehicles and I can promise you that in the next part I will cover more cars (of course!) but also I’ll come back to some of the cars I didn’t describe in much detail in my first article.  I think that for next issue I’m will cover Ford and Willys, but we are a few months away from that, so I’ll see what develops, and what dovetails in best.  I hope you will also leave some feedback with our editors, and let me know what you’d like to see in future articles as I follow Carros Inesqueciveis do Brasil. If you are a fan of American saloons or Brazilian sports cars, be sure to try and find yourself a Willys Itamaraty (by Ford, of course!), a Chevrolet Opala 2500 Especial, and a Brasinca 4200GT Uirapuru. Happy collecting!

Readers are reminded that the first article in this series can be found on this site