Friday, April 9, 2010

1969 Volkswagen SP2

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, this has been a rough week for finding good cars to write about. Sometimes that happens. I was thinking about writing about some type of car that I had previously written about (a "crutch car", as I call it), but Chris over at Rusty But Trusty already found all the cool Alfas and there just weren't many other interesting cars out there. I was hoping I wasn't going to have to write about another Romanian Opel. Then I checked my e-mail...

There was an e-mail from my friend Jon and in it was a zillion (maybe slightly less) links to cars for sale worldwide. This car was one of them...

Yes, this is a real VW, not a kit. VW designed it and built it in Brazil. Of the 10,000 built, less than 1000 made their way out of Brazil. It's estimated that less than 1000 exist in total today.

The basic story behind the SP2 goes like this... In the 1960s and 1970s Brazil was a closed market for imports. The only sports cars being sold there were the Karmann Ghia and few cars from independent companies. Looking to replace the Ghia, Volkswagen do Brasil starting working on what would become the SP2 in 1969. Without a lot of development money, they based the car on the VW Type 4, albeit with a 1700cc version of the VW flat 4.

What they developed is, in my mind, the most beautiful VW (air-cooled or not) ever built. Take a look at this. This could have come from any Italian carrozzeria. It is gorgeous.

Performance-wise this car was a lot like the Karmann Ghia, meaning that it wasn't as fast as it looked. But, like the Ghia, it was easy and cheap to maintain and there were (and still are) enough aftermarket parts available to make it really interesting.

Why VW didn't export it worldwide is a mystery to me. While VW of Brazil was part of the VW Group, it did have a certain amount of autonomy and it's been suggested the VW Germany (who made the export decisions) was not about to sell a car they had little or nothing to do with developing. (Especially one as nice looking as this). It's also been said that there wasn't enough manufacturing capacity to fill the anticipated worldwide demand. The real reason is probably somewhere in between.

There are very few of these cars in the US and they rarely come up for sale. In 2007 Hemmings reported one being sold in PA for $18,000.00. The condition wasn't mentioned, but that seems like a bargain for a car that looks this good and is this rare in the US.

This is the only air-cooled VW I would love to own.

This one is for sale in Brazil. The price is roughly $25,000.00 USD (R$45.000). You can find the Mercado Livre ad here. The pictures on the site are not very big or clear, but if you check out the links below, you'll find some really good pictures and info...
has some pictures and info.

You can find the above mentioned Hemmings article here.

A site, simply titled VW SP2, has a lot of info and pictures.


Richard said...

I have seen one of these in person at the Paso Robles car show, sitting next to all the VW bugs and buses it looked out of place. Fell in love with it before I even knew what it was, sure not the fastest thing in the world, but so cheap to run (however expensive to buy) and looks the business.

Dominic said...

One made it to Granada, Andalucia, in South Spain. Seen it years ago in the compound of the Junta de Andalucia wildlife HQ on the old Sierra Nevada road. Curious car, but looks really cool.