Volkswagen do Brasil has produced a number of models over the years by taking familiar VW designs and conducting radicalsurgery to tweak and twist them in surreal ways. The VW Gol of 1980-84, with an air-cooled Beetle engine mounted in the front of a shortened Audi 80/Fox chassis, is a perfect example. The immediate predecessor of the Gol was another mix and match of VW design elements: the Beetle-based VW Brasilia, proudly named after the capital of Brazil. It was a greatest hits collection of air cooled VW passenger car themes, combining a Beetle 1600cc engine and chassis, a three door hatchback body based on the Type 3 Squareback, and the front end styling of the 412.
With a larger interior made possible by replacing the Beetle’s 1930s fastback sedan body with a two box design, the Brasilia competed successfully with newly designed 1970s economy cars such as the Chevrolet Chevette and Ford Corcel. Over a million were sold from 1973 to 1982, and it continued for two years after the introduction of the front wheel drive Gol. Variants included a five door wagon and an alcohol fuel version with a 1,300cc engine. The Brasilia did not actually replace the Beetle, which outlasted the Brasilia by continuing in production in Brazil until 1996, with a temporary hiatus in 1986-1993.
The Brasilia was an international sales success as well. VW do Brasil exported them to numerous countries including Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Paraguay, Uruguay, South Africa, Portugal, and the Philippines. Overseas assembly occurred in Mexico and Nigeria for those markets. Although never sold in the U.S., a few have been imported individually, and they are among the rarest of VWs in the U.S. It deserves to be remembered as the final development of the Beetle platform and an example of VW do Brasil’s independent thinking during the 1970s.
Four door Brasilia (Image courtesy wikipedia)