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Beetle Replacement: 1979 Volkswagen Brasilia


Barn Finds reader Jim S. sent us this unusual Volkswagen find–thanks, Jim! This two-door Brasilia that was originally designed to replace the Beetle (it didn’t!) has been imported recently and is now located in Irvington, Alabama and is for sale here on eBay with bidding currently at $5,500 with the reserve not yet met.


You probably haven’t seen one of these before but that’s okay because we didn’t get this model in the United States or Europe – it was only sold in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Portugal, Bolivia, Perú, Ecuador, Venezuela, Paraguay, Uruguay, the Philippines and Nigeria (!). It’s got an air-cooled Beetle-type engine in the rear, two doors, four seats and a hatchback. The paint on this stellar example is believed to be original, and it’s only showing 36,000 kilometers (about 23,000 miles). Everything is believed to be original, and it certainly looks the part.


The hatchback seems really useful, albeit with a high liftover to account for the engine underneath. I wondered at first if the rear seat folded down, and then it dawned on me that it wouldn’t help much if it did. The seller does say that all paperwork has been completed, so I wonder why there isn’t a US license plate showing? I’d want to drive the car if I made the effort to import it!


Naturally, the interior is very plain, but it looks every bit as nice as the exterior; in other words, superb! The seats actually look pretty comfortable and the gauge layout is very logical. Again, there’s not much there, but they got the design right.


Somewhere under there is a 1300cc flat four. I’m hoping most maintenance is done from the bottom! One thing to watch for is that many Brazilian cars of this era (and even now) are set up to run on straight ethanol. I have no way of knowing if this car is set up like that, but it would be a good question to ask the seller. Of course, if you’re where E85 is really cheap (it’s just been introduced at our local station at $1.37/gallon!) this might work out well for you as long as that would work in the car. Any Barn Finds readers familiar with running an ethanol-tuned car on E85? Would you like to try it with this neat and unusual Volkswagen?


  1. Avatar photo randy

    It reminds me of a stretched Dasher or Rabbit.

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  2. Avatar photo RayT

    Neat little car, but the “space” behind the rear seat strikes me as a singular waste. Can’t imagine storing anything back there, as it would cut rear vision down to nothing. A “notchback” body style (like the VW 1500) would have been better.

    I’d say the low mileage is genuine. Nothing shows much wear, and everything looks mighty fresh for the Brasilia’s age. I’m guessing the interior plastics don’t feel particularly nice, and probably won’t stand up to a lot of use, based on the few Brazilian VWs I’ve seen. Would be a nice car for a VW enthusiast’s collection, though.

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  3. Avatar photo fordfan

    From what I have read this is a modified type 3 that vw of brazil cobeled together

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  4. Avatar photo jimbosidecar

    Cool, looks a bit like the 411/412.

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  5. Avatar photo MacGuyver

    That nose reminds me of a ’67 Corvair.

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    • Avatar photo Signalsparks

      It is a 412 clone. Technically the post-1976? Air cooled vans/early Vanagons were type 4’s, so the power plant from those is interchangeable.

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  6. Avatar photo Francisco

    Does it have A/C? It’s pretty dang hot in Brazil during their summer (our winter.)

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  7. Avatar photo randy

    I would guess no, because Brazilians are not sissies like us Americans.

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    • Avatar photo Francisco

      …or they just plain can’t afford it (like us Americans.)

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      • Avatar photo randy

        good one! and oh so true.

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  8. Avatar photo Ricardo Ventura

    this car was designed in Brazil, and is far from having a / c.
    with “small” adjustments will run on gasoline.
    “sissies” has worldwide.
    as to be able to pay … everything, but everything in here is more expensive, but much more expensive than you guys can imagine.
    Here the minimum wage is U $ 225.00 !!!
    Here in Brazil we have everything to buy, but is not for everyone.
    thank you.

    Like 1

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