Brazil is to VW what Australia is to the Big Three: an alternate universe where things look both familiar and yet quite surreal. Take this 1981 Gol, for example; it’s essentially a shortened Audi 80/Fox with a restyled body and a hatchback. Well, that was a good way to recycle the out-going B1 tooling and such; sending it to Brazil. But it arrived from Germany without the engine tooling, so the Brazilians got creative: they dropped in the air-cooled Beetle engine. So if you’ve ever wondered what a FWD air-cooled Beetle updated for the eighties might have looked like, this is it.
Here’s how that looks under the hood. The 1300 and 1600cc engines did get a different fan and housing in order to fit under the hood. But otherwise, it’s all air-cooled VW, right down to the modest output and performance. The single-carb 1300 had all of 42 horses, and the twin-carb 1600 (shown) mustered 51. The 0-60 run took some 16 seconds for the 1600.
A couple of years later, the Gol sprouted some aspects on its front and rear ends. A trunk out back and revised roof line turned the Gol into a proper sedan (four door too), and the water-cooled EA827 engine tooling finally arrived from Germany. VW Brazil belatedly entered the modern era, although the Gol would soldier on with the air-cooled boxer for a few more years yet. If the Voyage looks familiar, that’s because it’s the car VW imported to the US as the Fox (the wagon version was called the Parati). But that’s a story for another VW Week post, hang on a bit longer.
In 1984, the first of a long line of “hot” Gols appeared, with a 90 hp 1.8L water-cooled engine. The GT, and later GTI got more power as the years went by, but I’m not aware of a factory turbo model, so this may be an aftermarket emblem. And in 1985, all Gols got liquid cooling, as the air-cooled boxer was sent packing.But ti wasn’t the familiar EA827 in the base model, but a 1.0 L mill built by Ford no less, as this was during the time of the VW and Ford Autolatina JV. So the Gol got another odd engine under its hood.