When most people think of Volkswagens with air-cooled engines from the 1970s, the vehicle that always comes to mind is the Beetle. Rightfully so as the little Bug was practically the car that defined the brand.
But fans of the marque and motoring enthusiasts will note that there is another offering that possessed the same traits as the Beetle, albeit in a more practical shape. This is the Volkswagen Brasilia.
Created in response to a challenge to recreate the Beetle but with the Brazilian market in mind, the Brasilia debuted in May of 1973 in Brazil. Named after the nation’s capital city, it was later exported to several markets, including our own shores in the mid-70s.
While it had a rare 5-door variant, the models that were sold in most countries was the 3-door version with a rear mounted, air-cooled 1.6-liter flat-4 motor. Like most air-cooled VWs of the era, it was not built for speed but was relatively cheap to run and frugal on fuel.
But what the Brasilia did put forward was practicality. The hatchback profile meant that there was more space inside for passengers and cargo. Having a rear engine layout also meant there was a front trunk (frunk) that could hold more gear.
Sure, the Brasilia may not have sold as much as the Beetle during its run until 1982. Yet for those that had the opportunity to own one, it did live up to its reason for being—a practical VW that will is loved by auto enthusiasts even to this day.