Retrospectively Speaking: The Brazilian 1600S ‘Super Fusca’ or ‘Bizorrão’
I guess that this particular Retrospective’ column should be prefaced with a reminder given in the Foreword to the “Articles” section of SEBeetles. In the era before the universal introduction of the World Wide Web (WWW) in the late 1990‘s information on automotive matters was researched by writing letters, making telephone calls, sharing information by word of mouth, picking up news from credible sources, perusing official sales literature/parts manuals and magazine articles written by authoritative journalists, …. with anything visually recorded being by film camera.
As an example: inconceivable as it might seem now the information that English, indeed European-wide, Volkswagen enthusiasts had about Brazilian and Mexican Volkswagen production history matters prior to about 1980 was fairly scant indeed. Examples of actual cars were fairly rare and the very occasional magazine articles about them were avidly read. Photographs were limited to the meagre few that accompanied those articles or the few that turned up in the increasing number of books that were being written in the English language about Volkswagen production history.
During 1986 and 1987 whilst writing as, by then, an International Editor for “VW Motoring Magazine” I wrote a series of eleven articles about the Brazilian Volkswagen model range with the full support of Volkswagen do Brasil. Those articles titled “The Brazilian Connection” remain one of the most substantive profiles on Brazilian Volkswagen production history published in Europe in the pre-internet era. Copies of all eleven articles were even circulated internally to Volkswagen of America from Wolfsburg as “background reading material” for VWoA staff ahead of deliveries of Brazilian made models – notably the Gol based saloon tagged “Fox” – for sale in the USA (this VW badge engineering was a slightly embarrassing move in light of the first series Audi 80 having been also branded “Fox’ for US distribution)
The third article of “The Brazilian Connection” series was a very full three page profile containing a significant amount of detail about the Brazilian variations of the Beetle (Fusca). In this article I reflected that:
“In August 1974 …. came what must surely rank as one of the most exciting production Beetles ever made. Forerunner of the South African SP1600 Kever, this 1600S ‘Super Fusca’ had a factory-fitted Solex twin-carb set-up on the 1600 engine, together with such ‘sports’ factory fittings as rev-counter, oil temperature gauge, sports steering wheel and seats, and so on. No doubt it’s development drew on the then new Brasilia, for it shared the Brazilian Type 3 1600 engine, with it’s 7.2:1 compression ratio giving 54hp (DIN). The 1600S also shared the Brasilia’s 14’’ road wheels. Production ceased in April 1975, and while tragically short-lived as a sports package, some of the more fundamental parts – engine, reduced radius wheels etc., – nevertheless continued, in the guise of the plainer ‘1600’ model introduced that same April …”.
Just one single press photo of the 1600S ‘Super Fusca’ accompanied that article. ! The Brasilia was a uniquely Volkswagen do Brasil design that became , and still remains, a much coveted automobile. It was produced in Brasil, then also in Mexico and some of Volkswagen do Brasil’s CKD exports territories primarily in Nigeria where it was rebadged as the “Igala”. The 5J x14” wheels of the 1600S borrowed from the Brasilia were instantly recognisable by having six long ventilation slots as distinct for the twenty small square ventilation slots that were a unique Brazilian production idiosyncrasy of the standard 4.5Jx15”Fusca wheels. What I did not know in July 1986 was that the 1600S ‘Super Fusca’ had been given the identity ‘Bizorrão’ in the Brazilian home market and was promoted by an advertising brochure that makes a fascinating comparison with another of the SEBeetle “stars” of 1974 – the “Sports Bug” for USA and Canada. Marketing of the “Sports Bug” was supported in the US with a brochure populated with cartoon characters in a style very familiar to anyone who was a Playboy Magazine reader in that era. An interesting analysis of the name Bizorrão and the language used in the Brazilian home market brochure and advertisements, including their drawing on slang colloquials and language appealing to youth culture, can be found by internet search.
Almost 40 years now after first writing about the 1600S even fuller details are, thanks to internet research, readily available. Produced only in Imperial Yellow, Ruby Red and Lotus White paintwork (yet again a resonance connection to the SP1600 that would follow shortly afterwards in South Africa) it had an engine venting that was more than just an external black plastic air ram device. The engine lid pressing itself was a unique affair with two large oblong holes where the air intake louvres are more normally found and into which the air was ducted by the plastic dam.
Care has to be taken when quoting output power because of the variations that exist between how power (bhp, PS etc.,) is measured (and then quoted in brochures, road tests etc.,) in terms of SAE, DIN or CUNA. But in whichever of these terminologies used the 1600S was notably powerful for it’s type and spirited neigh to out pace the fabulous Brazilian Volkswagen sports model the SP2 and the Brazilian version Karmann Ghia TC.
The Bizorrão came onto a home market that already had a history of VW tuning with something like a decade of the Fittipaldi brothers, Emerson and Wilson, and others doing wild things with VW engines including the Fittipaldi’s awesome mating of two 1600 VW lumps into a 3.2 litre flat 8 before going onto greater things, in Emerson’s case, with International Formula One Racing. Interestingly a period also witnessing Porsche doing similar mating tricks in Europe with, ultimately, the peak of flat air-cooled engine attainment in the development of the 917.
The 1600S was also introduced into the international Volkswagen world at the point of great change – the, then, newly announced Passat was not only showing a clean pair of heels to most air-cooled models in Europe but also in Brazil where it’s introduction came very soon indeed after introduction into Germany. ! QUATRO RODAS Magazine carry a nice portrait of the 1600S ‘Super Fusca’ on their website: (translated with GOOGLE TRANSLATE from the original Portuguese text which can be found at http://quatrorodas.abril.com.br/materia/ vw-super-fuscao-1600-s-774577/)
“Called Super Fuscão 1600 S, was released in 1974: the hype filled with slang sought identity with the younger crowd, calling it Bizorrão. On the outside, the news was making black air over the rear hood and large wheels with 14 inch rim, similar to those of Brasilia.
The interior offered an unusual refinement: inner lining with carpet and, to the delight of young couples, reclining seats. The three-spoke steering wheel cup of Walrod worked in harmony with the handle shortened the traditional need to exchange. The 1.6 Boxer 65 hp coming from Brasilia, but with 5 hp more thanks to the double carburetion. To monitor it, full instrumentation: tachometer, clock, thermometer and ammeter oil, indispensable for air motors high performance. The radio was optional, but had no lack: the good was enjoying the sports exhaust snoring only way out, turned to the left.
The final scale of the speedometer marked pretentious 160 km / h – at best, it does not pass the 136 km / h. But it was enough to keep up with the traffic: going from 0 to 100 km / h in 16.5 seconds was faster than the sports SP-2 and Karmann Ghia-TC. In fact, this Beetle did not take the crap from anybody: exceeded Chevrolet Chevette, 1800 Dodge, Ford Corcel and followed on the heels of the new VW star: the Passat.
Bias tires 175 S14 left to be desired, yet their was played fast and skittish: the wider wheels increased the gauges and compensating bar softened the rear vents, giving much pleasure to skilled drivers. The disc front brakes were standard. The car of the photos belongs to the collector Cesar Cardoso, who has two copies: “I have this Yellow Imperial, one Ruby Red and one Lotus White”. Like all good little harsh, he (the 1600S ‘Super Fusca’ )bowed out in the first half of 1975, giving rise to Fuscão 1600. Blockbuster and criticism, this version followed going strong until the end of production in 1986.” (TESTE QUATRO RODAS Outubro de 1974) ! Scale Models of the 1600S ‘Super Fusca’ are rarer than the real car and just like it have only been released in Brazil.
The De Agostini Group of companies is well known (I suspect worldwide) for serialised magazines that are generally referred to as “partworks”. Subjects range variously through popular cult, hobby, craft and similar subjects often with an attached models/collectables (of parts thereof).
In scale model car terms several of their partwork series have been supported with attached 1/43rd scale models produced by IXO Altaya. On the plus side the output of this model manufacturing company is, to say the least, prolific with many interesting and otherwise unmodelled automotive subjects made exclusively for distribution with De Agostini partwork publications. On the downside some of the quality and detailing is not as meticulous as more normally found on many other contemporary 1/43 scale models.
Fascinatingly (and very frustratingly) a one hundred part, partwork, has been published in Brazil titled “Carros Inesquecíveis do Brasil” (Amazing Cars From Brazil). Featured in the series were (of Volkswagen related interest) Volkswagen Fusca (1961) ,Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia (1962), Volkswagen Gol BX (1984), Volkswagen Kombi Type 2 T2 (1976), Volkswagen Brasília (1975), the beautiful Puma GTE Coupé (1973), Volkswagen (Brasilian version typ.3) Variant (1969), Gurgel Xavante (1972), Volkswagen SP2 (1973), Bugre I (1970), Volkswagen Passat (1975), Volkswagen Fusca (1985), (Brasilian version typ.3) Volkswagen TL (1972), Volkswagen Kombi 1200 (1957), Volkswagen Parati (1983), (Brasilian version typ.3) Volkswagen 1600 (1968), Volkswagen Santana (1985), Volkswagen Gol GTI (1989), Volkswagen Voyage (1983), Volkswagen Kombi CD (1981), Volkswagen Saveiro (1982), Gurgel X12 TR (1979), Gurgel Carajás (1986), Volkswagen Passat TS (1976), Volkswagen Fusca Conversível (1973), Volkswagen Passat GTS Pointer (1984), Puma GT (1967) and for the final, hundredth, issue the Volkswagen Kombi Limited Edition (2013) – being the Last Edition Kombi.
Most interesting of all though, from a SEB point of view, was issue number 98 featuring the Volkswagen 1600S (1974) – the ‘Super Fusca’/‘Bizorrão’. I have contacted Planeta DeAgostini, Brasil, to try and source a copy of the partwork featuring for the car, perhaps not surprisingly, without success. An example of the accompanying model however was a lot easier to obtain thanks to internet auctions being fully international.
Setting aside some poor assembly and parts fit issues the model 1600S sits plausibly and not too uncomfortably alongside 1/43 Minichamps models and does at least give us a model of this particularly special SEB that is more “scale model” than “toy”. Resplendent in yellow paintwork it virtually flaunts its black cowling and 1600S script. A comment on accuracy however is that although the representations of the wheels are good and very obviously recognisable as the unique and idiosyncratic Brasilian style they are of the standard 4.5Jx15”Fusca wheels rather than the six slot 5J x14” Brasilia style wheels. This comment apart it exudes the charisma of the 1600S pretty well and is a very welcome addition to the fairly limited range of scale model SEBs available – being made for limited issue only in Brazil it is also almost as rare as the original Fusca which it represents! It appears that another model of the 1600S – also in yellow paintwork but with Brasilia style wheels – is available in Brazil from Andreartes.com. although I have no more information about it that the fairly scarce internet sourced photographs convey.
Copyright Stephen Paul Hardy,
Dorset, England. 30th January 2016