Miami Connection: 1979 VW Brasilia


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It seems Miami is increasingly becoming a hotbed of activity for automotive forbidden fruit from South America. This gorgeous VW Brasilia here on eBay is one of several vehicles I’ve spotted lately that has likely resided in the Sunshine State for just a short while before being put up for sale. With only 42,750 miles, it has clearly led a pampered existence no matter where it has lived. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Jim S. for the find! 

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Personally, my mind always wanders to Europe when I think about importing a vehicle that complies with the USA’s 25 year rule. But after seeing a few of these oddball VWs that were never sold stateside begin showing up, maybe it’s time to look south of the border for potential projects. The Brasilia follows VW’s familiar recipe of a flat-four, aircooled engine mounted in the back, paired with a 4-speed manual up front. Interestingly, it was created to give VW an offering to go head-to-head with GM’s Chevette, which featured distinct styling and options for Latin America.

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The dual-carb engine is said to be original to the car. No other details are offered in terms of maintenance history, but these old air-cooled motors are laughably cheap to run and maintain. They also sound wicked with a custom exhaust, as any amount of searching for Brasilia sound clips on YouTube will reveal. In fact, you can follow the widely accepted “Cal-Look” philosophy to modifying a Brasilia as you would a Beetle: lower it on polished Fuchs Porsche wheels, add a roof rack and a stinger exhaust. Done!

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Although, given this example’s impressively stock condition, it would be a shame to modify it. I dig the 70s colors and the OEM steel wheels; this car is truly an exercise in simplicity. There’s only two bids pushing the auction to $2,250 currently, with the reserve unmet. If the seller has taken care of all the necessary federalization paperwork (and the Florida registration would indicate he has), then that’s a big hassle off the plate of the next owner – but you’ll want to check out what your state requires before casting a bid.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. JW454

    I like this one too. The design would make getting at the engine a bit of a hassle but, hopefully, needing to wouldn’t come up that often.
    No telling where the bidding will go on it.

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  2. redwagon

    its quirky. i like it. but after a bit of thought i am beginning to see why this rear engine design fell out of favor.

    the engine is impossibly cramped without removal and i dont know how easy or difficult that is.

    the rear seats do not fold down to create a large loading floor. instead all of the storage is up front. so while luggage fits well anything long (think skis, 2x4s etc) do not.

    w only 2 doors where do you put your groceries easily?

    imagine how much more useful this would be if it was a front engine design with a hatch that allowed access to a full flat or nearly flat loading space.

    wait! just imagine a golf.

    evolution of design based on practicality.

    Like 0
  3. Scotty GStaff

    So many vehicles, so little time.. dang. This one is right in my sweet spot.

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  4. roberto

    No Brasil, no anos 80, não se espantem, não sei se nos Estados Unidos teve alguma época com coisas parecidas, então voltando, nos anos 80 as crianças eram colocadas no bagagito, o tampão do motor, área que era vendida como porta-malas inicial. Eu particularmente se for para ter um Vw prefiro o Fusca (chamado aí de Beatle). O brasília foi projetado às preças para competir com o Chevette. Um pouco diferente do Chevette Americano, o nosso era bem parecido com o Opel Kadett C, com exceção do motor. O Brasília era barulhento porque o motor fica praticamente dentro do carro, mas os brasileiro da época eram incrivelmente indiferentes para este tipo de problemas, por isso, apesar das deficiências de conforto e estabilidade, o Brasilia vendeu bastante.

    Google trad.
    In Brazil in the 80’s, do not be surprised, I do not know if in the United States there was a time with similar things, then coming back, in the 80’s children were put in the bagagito, the engine cap, area that was sold as trunk alternative. I especially if it is to have a Vw I prefer the “Fusca” (called there of Beatle). Brasilia was designed to prevail to compete with the Chevette. Somewhat different from the American Chevette, ours was very similar to the Opel Kadett C, except for the engine. Brasilia was noisy because the engine was practically inside the car, but the Brazilians of the time were incredibly indifferent to this type of problem, so despite the deficiencies of comfort and stability, Brasilia sold a lot.

    Like 0

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