Cold Start: The Original Cybertruck

Cs Gurgel

I get that a lot of the appeal of Tesla’s long-delayed Cybertruck is the low-polygon, angular design and novel materials that make it feel like something that would be at home in a movie about a mayoral race in Mars’ capital city, but if you want those same traits, you could have had them decades and decades ago, thanks to our Brazilian pals at Gurgel. Check out the Gurgel G-15.

It’s all air-cooled VW mechanicals under there, and, even better, it’s the Alcool version, which means it’s designed to run on Brazil’s amazing sugar-cane alcohol alternative fuel. Sugar cane is totally renewable, so this sipper of the sweet stuff is green aigh eff, too.

It’s got the same basic angular, low-poly look, but with extra corrugations and ribs for everyone’s pleasure, and it’s also made with an exotic material: plasteel! It’s not stainless steel, like your fork or spoon, but some kind of magic Brazilian plastic.

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Look at all the versions it comes in, too! Single cabs with long beds, double cabs, panel vans, even four-door ambulances. I love how they just re-used the front door for the rear doors on the red ambulance, which actually makes it look even cooler than if those second doors had square windows.

Why aren’t more of these getting imported to America? They look like nothing else, and the VW mechanicals mean keeping them going is cheap and easy.

Get off that Cybertruck waiting list and get yourself a G-15. You’ll be happier.

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50 Responses

  1. Ever since I first found out about these (I believe from an article you did at Jalopnik), I’ve wanted to get a couple just to put people in jumpsuits and old baseball catcher pads and make my own low budget 80’s inspired sci-fi movie.

  2. Plasteel is real?? I thought it was just one of those materials from 1960s sci-fi back when authors put “plastic” somewhere in the name to evoke the future. Like, “Xandrel Cain stepped out onto the pitted zinplast decking, finger on the plasteel actuator of his stunner.”

    1. See the TURTLE of enormous girth! On his shell he holds the earth. His thought is slow but always kind; He holds us all within his mind. On his back all vows are made; He sees the truth but may not said. He loves the land and loves the sea, And even loves a child like me.

  3. It’s like the opening of Blade Runner 2049 but with less gloom.

    I love that the white logo is so bright it looks like it’s backlit. Something cyberpunk we do now, which makes me wonder why the Cybertruck doesn’t.

  4. I would argue the Gurgel is better looking than the cybertruck. Something about the proportions of the cybertruck just look awkward to me. Likely the result of forcing something functional into the angular profile Musk desired.

    The Gurgel’s wheels look tiny, but I’d imagine that could be remedied…

  5. Love it. I would also love if you guys did a series delving into different international car markets/cultures, not unlike the China stuff already on the site. It sounds like Brazil would be a rich vein to mine. I also went down a wiki wormhole the other day about Iranian Peugeots, for instance. Fascinating stuff.

    1. If you liked Iranian Peugeots, wait until you hear about Iranian Renaults (and Nigerian Peugeots).

      But yeah, couldn’t agree more, there’s lots of interesting car markets and culture all over the world. Torch does a very fine job covering the Brazilian market, no doubt because of how ubiquitous air-cooled VW engines once were.

    2. Yeah I wholeheartedly second this. There’s so many interesting variations of vehicles around the world. I love reading up on AUDM/JDM/other versions of vehicles I didn’t even know existed before – think Volkswagen Gol or Aussie Falcon and such.

  6. I live here in the world of Gurgels in Brazil and I am here to tell you that they are the most horrid things on 4 wheels. Just NOPE !!! Merely to be seen near one, let alone actually getting into one, is enough to lose one’s reputation.

  7. I remember seeing a few of those when I was a kid. They were hot for a while in the public sector, and I saw quite a few on farms or ranches – but maybe different models, I’m not so sure. Last time I saw one in the actual Plasteel was in 2007 – me in a white VW T1.5, and it in green or grey, a few cars behind. Maybe it was even the version with reused front doors in the back, but maybe I’m confabulating this memory a little 🙂

    I remember that the company was sort of a laughing stock by the time I learned to read (automotive papers and magazines were my reading of choice, I was that kind of kid). The cars looked bad even by the standards of the time, but this is late 80’s/early 90’s I’m talking about, maybe they were cutting edge in the 70’s and just overstayed the design trend. A shame, really, because they were a truly indigenous design, even down to the engine (maybe it was build on top of the Citroën 2CV engine, but I’m too lazy to check it out now).

    Anyway, took me a while to realize that the company had gone belly up. There is of course a lot more to it, but the gist of it is that once the country opened again to imports, they were toast. Actually not right after, but two or three years in the country’s currency became stronger than the dollar for a while, so better alternatives became incredible cheap. Imagine waking up from the middle ages and suddenly learning that you – yes, you, the peasant covered in dung and black plague – can now buy the Enterprise in 96 installments! That cool donkey cart from yesterday won’t stand a chance, even if it is better suited to hauling manure than the cool starship that couldn’t (or shouldn’t) leave orbit.

    RIP Gurgel, your cars were all ugly (except the X-15/G-15 which is kind of adorable), but you were a genuine Brazilian car company, and we miss what you could’ve been.

  8. And they just took the regular VW T2B rear lights and rotated them 90 degrees.
    I love brilliant simple innovation like that!
    – And because split screens were a thing in Brazil later than in any other country, they are of course split screen too. Very cool 🙂

    (psst, Jason, google “orion camper”, they are also cool)

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