When I first saw this picture, I did a serious double-take: a styling concept for another GM division? Then I saw the sign referring to Brazil, and did a bit of digging. And what I uncovered is a very strange and fascinating tale about an attempt to launch a totally new car company in Brazil in the early sixties.
Turns out this obviously customized Corvair was just something to show investors. The actual production car looked rather different, but was still rear engined, but not by the Corvair’s air-cooled pancake six. It had a 2.5 L water cooled V6, still in the rear, but sitting further forward above its transaxle, almost exactly like the Tatra 613.
Unfortunately, the whole undertaking was snubbed out by the military junta that took over in April 1964. They were obviously not wild about the name(s), and effectively killed the company after it had made just a few of the actual Presidentes.
The fact that the first concept shown was just a customized Corvair gave the junta the ammunition to claim that IBAP was engaging in securities fraud, by using it to raise money from investors. But Nelson Fernandes, the self-made tycoon behind IBAP, did not give up so easily, and had the definitive Presidente Coupe developed. Although it had a fiberglass body, at least for the initial batch of prototypes/limited production cars, it still shares the Corvair coupe’s general rear-engine proportions, but with a bit less rear overhang.
IBAP had a small Italian firm, ProCosAutoM, in which it was a part-owner, create a 2.5 L 60 degree V6, known as a “hot” vee engine beacuse of the the exhaust ports being on the inside of the vee, and the intakes on the outside. It was rated at 120 hp.
Unlike most rear engines that are mounted behind the transaxle and the axle centerline, this had the transmission and differential in its sump, and the axle centerline is actually near the rear of the engine, making this essentially a mid-rear engine design, and not unlike Ferrari’s Berlinetta Boxer.
Since IBAP had no real factory, a small number of bodies were built in fiberglass, although the idea was to build them in steel on a mass basis once the funding was secured. As it turned out, only five were known to ever have been fully completed, and one running example is known to exist.
That one remaining running Presidente is featured in this Brazilian tv clip on it, made in more recent years.
The junta was determined to derail Fernandes, and although the firm had to drop any ambitions to move forward, he was not cleared fully until 1984.
I keep learning new things about South American cars on a regular basis; I’m sure there’s still much more yet to be uncovered.
Fernandes could simply move the operations to Argentina in the south and start anew. Perhaps not since Argentina succumbed to the military junta, too, a few years later in 1966.
The first photo would be “what if United States had liberalised the needlessly restrictive headlamp regulations during the 1960s.” The rectangular headlamps gave Corvair a somewhat futuristic Space Age look…
I like the first design in black better….
Another sad coulda been story .
A pity the car got derailed, it is like a relatively more conventional Corvair in terms of the 120 hp 60-degree 2.5-litre V6 engine (a layout that was within GM’s ability to build) as opposed to the Corvair’s Flat-Six that had little commonality with other GM cars.
The IBAP Democrata Presidente not only represents a what could have been with respect to an indigenous Brazilian carmaker being established, but also a “what-if” vision as it were of an earlier move by GM Brazil into passenger cars from the late-50s to early-60s via a Corvair-inspired family of rear-engined cars for the Brazilian / South American markets (instead of in 1968).
Sure GM of Brazil still had much success with the Chevette and Opala models. Yet Brazil would have been in a unique position to begin producing its own self-contained indigenous Corvair-family of rear-engined cars to take on Volkswagen from the GM Cadet Coupe microcar (see Facebook link) up to the Corvair and Corvair Greenbrier, all powered by earlier versions of the stillborn 2nd generation Corvair modular engine family.
Brazil and Argentina always used to make new design`s exercizes based on American daddies GM , Ford , Chrysler and American Motors formerly Rambler
The four door looks much better w/o the early Corvair’s flying wing roof. And while the grill/front end looks good too, why the big grill? The radiator was in the back.
I wonder if it had swing axles That engine sits pretty far forward so maybe swing axles would be OK.
What a tale!
It’s like some alternate history, or an archaeological dig in which Indiana Jones reveals that GM had always copied its ideas from a lost empire in the south.
I wonder why the Corvair, of all US cars, was chosen?
This, btw, is the second complex OHC Vee-engine I’ve never heard of in a short time on CC, the first being that remarkable GAZ a week or so ago.
I also wonder why the hot-Vee? What’s the benefit without a turbo set-up?
From comments in the above article, “appear that the company ProCosAutoM, unknown before and after this adventure, and founded under Italian law, belonged 60% to Ibap and 40% to Alfa Romeo people, the technician Enrico Franchini and the engineer Gabriele Toti, both of Alfa Romeo.”
I can’t find anymore information on the engine development. It seems like an odd design, the hot V for Brazil. Perhaps they were trying to limit vapor lock? The layout requires 2 carbs and rather short runners. On the other hand they do have the width of the engine bay and it could be somewhat lower with the carbs to the sides.
I would love to know more about the engine history. It is a pity that the dictatorship happened and crushed this attempt to mix it up with international capital. That is another comment in the above listed link. The dictatorship aided international capital and limited local capital in auto/truck manufacturing.