Green With Envy: Cold Start

Cs Brasilia

I’ll admit something to you now: sometimes I do these Cold Starts just for me. I know I’m here to serve you, sensual readers, but I’m human and so very fallible, so that means occasionally I’m going to post a picture of a lime-green Brazilian Volkswagen Brasilia solely because I love these things. What a fantastically tidy and crisp little car! And the packaging! Oh, the packaging! The VW Type 1 engine under that back floor of the cargo area, the front trunk, it’s all so flapjacking clever.

Sure, the green of that car from the door forward seems to be strangely darker than the green from the B-pillar back, but if one bright light green is good, then two is that much better. Let’s take a look inside the Brasilia, why not?

Cs Brasiliacutaway

Oh yeah, now we’re talking. What’s even more incredible about the Brasilia is that this is really just a Beetle chassis (well, the slightly wider Ghia one) and a tall-fan-shroud VW engine, and they still made this twin-cargo-area’d wagon work. It’s so different looking than the Beetle, and it still works.

In fact, VW of Brazil seemed to think it worked so well that they did it twice, with the sort-of-Type 3-based Variant II:

Cs Variant2

People often confuse this for a Brasilia, but it’s actually a little different. It’s a bit bigger, it uses the flat Type 3 engine, which give a good bit more room in the rear cargo area, and it uses MacPherson struts up front for a bigger trunk, too.

You know, with modern EV skateboard platforms, there’s no reason some carmaker couldn’t build a really appealing modern EV version of a Brasilia/Variant II. Not every EV needs to be big and luxurious and heavy, you know. A little boxily handsome EV with a frunk and a wagon back and minimal electronic bullshit and maybe a weight under 4,000 pounds?

Oh well. Hopefully you enjoyed this Brasilia, and it wasn’t just for me.

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29 Responses

  1. I love the green. Admittedly I lean more towards the darker green you’d find on early 90s F-150s, but any green is good green.

    I also can’t wait for EV makers to actually start getting innovative with the skateboard platform. Right now they’re just trying to grab market share, they’re being predictable. A decade down the line? Things might start getting cool.

    1. Yep, ev makers are trying to recoup the R&D costs. In a decade or so there will be plenty of low cost options running around. Also lots of used ones for cheap, prime for the hacking up and making dune buggies etc.

  2. You want an EV with – and I quote – “minimal electronic bullshit”?

    You know that the whole apparent purpose of an EV is to pack as much bullshit in as possible so that people believe that they’re the Jetsons, not the Jefferson, right?

    1. I always wondered why they never made an episode about George Jefferson getting a new car. I can see him getting his first Cadillac, a black Sedan de Ville, and then quickly trading it for a pastel-colored 2 door after being mistaken for a chauffeur.

  3. It surprises me that Jalop and Autopian never paid Torchinsky a Brazil trip to nerd over these things in loco. I feel like it has been too long for him to meet a Brasilia, Dacon, Gurgel, Puma and so many others that we can’t even remember.

  4. Brasília! Eu gusto muito! These have fascinated me ever since I learned about them on my first trip to Brazil. That was in 2004 and there were quite a few of them on the roads then. I’ve been back there four times since and every time I’ve tried to find one to drive. I came close once, when my wife’s cousin’s neighbor that had one in her driveway said “maybe, if we can get it running”. Since my Portuguese wasn’t too good at that point, the nice lady may have actually said “who’s the weird gringo that wants to mess with the old car in my driveway?”, because the following afternoon when we were scheduled to take a look, she had changed her mind and very politely indicated that it was true, the car didn’t run, but she thought that was okay, it was fine the way it was, and maybe my wife and I should not worry about it and go back to Duque de Caxias.

    I almost managed to buy one while visiting family in Orlando, but I was about $2,000 shy of the $7K asking price at the time. It’s on the list of “Ones That Got Away” as I should have just borrowed the extra and bought it, especially considering the difficulty of finding any Brasília in the US.

    I did manage to find a nice die-cast version of one in Petropolis at a “Banca”, one of those street-side stands selling books, newspapers, etc. After striking out at a couple of these places, I found one where the guy first said he didn’t have any, just the ones on display. Then he sort of gave me a look, and asked how many I would buy if he did have others that weren’t on display. I said maybe three or four, depending on what they were. He then asked how I was going to pay: “de credito, o ‘bifufa’ ?” and rubbed his fingers together in the universal sign for cash. After I responded “em dinero”, the guy smiled, laughed, and went back to open up what was apparently his secret stash of cool die cast minaturas (I learned not to call them “brincados” – toys). I ended up buying diecast versions of a VW Brasília, a VW Paratí, a Chevy Ipanema, and a Dodge of some sort, all at full retail price and paid for in cash. It seemed we were both quite happy with the transaction and it made a great start to my Brazilian die-cast car collection.

  5. Metallic gray, huh? Well, I guess that’s a good call if you want people to just look straight through you like they do with 99.5% of other cars on the road. I’m not sure I personally would pay $2,000+ to transform my car from the third-most-common “color” to the second-most-common one, but hey, it’s your car and your money.

  6. When I was 17 I had a 2CV. The only other guy at school with a car had a Beetle. We hated each other’s crappy cars because that’s how it works when you’re at school.

    I’d been brought up exclusively with a string of Citroen GSs, CXs, a Visa and the 2CV, so I not only hated the Beetle but I knew nothing about it, other than there was a good chance they had put the body on backwards because the engine was at the wrong end.

    Thanks entirely to you and your excellent work here (and I think somewhere else I forget the name of) I now genuinely admire the vast number of early VWs based on that concept.

    Nice work Torch.

      1. This was in England in the late 80’s. Of the 60+ students in my year (aged 17-18) only four of us had cars, the other two were a Renault 5 and a mk2 Escort.

        I only had the 2CV because it had been abandoned by my older brother after he crashed it and replaced it with an actual car.

  7. We need more green cars. Lime green. Forest green. British racing green. Whatever this wonderfully cheerful shade of green is. All of them. It’s a damn shame that you can pretty much only find shades of green on sports cars and off road oriented SUVs and trucks these days. Sell regular cars in green too and break up the sea of grayscale monotony.

    1. I enjoy how car ad copy works as hard as possible to NOT show the cars in the colors people actually buy them in. Even the “it’s a car” Yaris ads featured bright red ones.

      I’d love to see a guerilla-honest ad for say an SUV that features one in beige sitting in the Costco parking lot, with the tagline “it’s what you want, now with wider, heated seats.”

      1. “Feel satisfyingly disconnected from the road and the world around you. Commute in quiet monotony. Listen to whatever the pop station is playing or enjoy your murder podcast in wholly unassuming comfort. Out of all of the cars, this is certainly one of them.”

        -CRV/RAV4/Rogue/Etc guerilla-honest ad

        1. You made my Tues am.

          If you haven’t already, check out Matthew Crawford’s excellent Why We Drive (Toward a Philosophy of the Open Road). He has a section with your sense of humor here, how the EV world is full-on serious about it.

    2. My last Mazda had a dark green metallic exterior over a tan interior. It was a delightful combo IMO.

      My current Mazda is so black inside and out that I think The Rolling Stones wrote a song about it. It was a better deal than than the other more colorful cars I looked at though, so I went full cheap bastard and kept the extra green in my bank account.

      1. That is a delightful combo. My aunt’s NA Miata is the same. I am now in my second black on black car in a row…not because I particularly like black cars, but because the options were so limited. The only cool color my 2020 MK7.5 GTI came in was white silver metallic (more or less a carbon light blue) and it was locked behind a paywall of packages that I refused to pay for. So between bright red, white, black, and a weird teal that clashed horribly with the plaid seats, I went black.

        The Kona N only comes in black, bright red, white, and a dumbed down gray-blue that doesn’t hold a candle to the performance blue the EN and VN come in. I went with black because it tones down the louder aspects of the design…which is also a good move in the Elantra N, which has a face only a mother could love. It looks better in person than it does in photos but it’s still uhhh….not great.

        I may wrap it in the next year and am open to suggestions…but seeing as I’m dropping a chunk of change on all season performance tires for it later today, I’d rather not have two significant car related expenses back to back considering I just bought it in June.

            1. I’m leaning towards a metallic satin gray and blacking out all of the badges/leaving the red accents, but I am open to suggestions. Blue is definitely on the table but it’ll depend on how it interacts with the red. I genuinely really like the red trim on the exterior and want to pick a color that still allows it to pop…thus the satin gray. I like the metallic grays that AMGs/M Cars offer quite a lot, even if I denounced grayscale cars in my earlier comment.

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