Thursday, February 23, 2023

Volkswagen Transporter converted from van to pick-up truck in Brazil

Seemingly, this Transporter that I spotted some time ago in my hometown was originally a van, not sure if cargo or passenger (Kombi) van. The raised roof gives a clue, because it was never a stock fitment to the pick-up in Brazil, and the air inlet above the rear wheel well is much different from anything ever done by Volkswagen to the Transporter. The hatch for access to the underbody (sort of) trunk also looks different than the ones fitted to the original model, it even looks slightly bigger so to match the lenght of the sliding door which would be previously at the same location. Being a 2000-2001 model-year, when the last pick-up was of the 2000 model-year, says it all too...

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Volkswagen-based Polauto coupé-utility with the rare regular cab

A vehicle which used to be quite common in my hometown Porto Alegre, exactly where it was also made by the way, the Polauto had a fiberglass body assembled over Volkswagen rear-engined Typ1 or Typ3 frames, mostly sourced from second-hand vehicles such as Beetles, Brasílias or Variants, more often the Beetle or the Brasília also reflecting the need for a higher loading deck in order to clear the cooling fan housing. The coupé-utility had its appreciation not only because such segment was consolidated in Brazil between the late-'70s and early-'80s, but also due to a lack of competition within the local market as imports were nearly impossible from '76 to '90, and the José Sarney presidential term from '85 to '90 was plagued by controversial economic plans which failed, including an extra tax paid yearly which only commercial vehicles such as pick-up trucks were granted an exemption.
Access to the engine bay was provided only through a hatch on the loading bay floor, not exactly the most convenient one, and having only the rear wheel wells for air intake and cooling was also quite a matter of concern, no wonder it's so unusual to find a Polauto without any additional air inlet or outlet for the engine bay. Another unusual feature of this Polauto is the regular cab, actually the first one with this bodystyle that I have ever seen, even though the crew-cab model used to be quite popular and some were roaming around until a few years ago in Porto Alegre.
As it used to be made in a rather low volume and more oriented toward final customers who would use it as a private/familiar car, a much larger amount had the crew-cab, still with only 2 doors because it's Brazil and in the '80s the stereotypes about 4-door cars would drop their resale value. Trying to understand the Brazilian car market and its dynamics is frankly a challenge, and models such as the Polauto are there to remind how it used to be eventually harder to explain to a foreigner why some folks would rather get a fiberglass kit car instead of refurbishing a rusty Beetle, not to mention an older beaten frame donor car would appreciate in resale value after being converted back in the day.