by Jon Mikelonis and Ernesto Franzen

If you think the white Mustang pictured above looks a bit peculiar, then you are right. You're right because that's not a Mustang at all, it's an Alfa
Romeo designed with the inspiration of an early Mustang's rear quarter and roofline. I discovered this particular car in January at the Museu de
Automoveis in the capital city of Brasilia, Brazil. A quick stop at the
curiously modest and lightly attended museum provided firm confirmation to what I had reluctantly concluded during my two prior weeks in Brazil. My conclusion, the strength of the do-it-yourself automotive hobby was fair and its' effect on classic Fords in Brazil was not promising. After another week of evaluating the landscape, culture, resources, and the small crop of Fords with potential, it was safe to surmise that preserving a classic Ford or building a piece of Ford muscle takes dedication and resourcefulness rivaling that of Ford enthusiasts in Finland. See the article Finnish Fairmont.

Prior to this trip, I already knew Ford exported Mavericks during Brazil's
economic upswing of the the early 70's. In fact, FordMuscle itself has a
number of registered Maverick readers from Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo is very
different from Brasilia however, where I spent most my time, both on a demographic and economic level. The two factors that dictate what people can afford or choose to drive. From a gearhead perspective there were a few immediate indicators that finding anything that resembled classic Ford muscle in the more modern city of Brasilia would be difficult. I first noticed that the residential homes of Brasilia were beautiful and well constructed, but since brazilians do not collect "stuff" the way we Americans do, even the largest homes did not have enclosed garages, making it difficult to create the right work environment for wrenching. Secondly, I noticed that newer and smaller cars were popular in Brazil. Because Brazil is a large country it is safe to say that its' citizens were not driving these econo-boxes because space was precious. Rather, Brazilians prefer efficient cars for two fundamental reasons. First, gas in Brazil is nearly twice the price of a US gallon. Obviously, high fuel costs make economy a priority over luxury, power, and style. On a more controversial note, it has been said that Brazilian people place high value on newer material things and with that they tend to disregard anything old. Either way, let's take a look at some Ford history in Brazil and what a classic Ford enthusiast might find interesting in this amazing country.

Willy's Overland and Renault
Ford products for Brazil have not always been limited to repackaged Escorts or Festivas, but original cars that are specific to the region. Have you ever heard of the Corcel, Del Rey, Belina or the Verona? If you're like me, then probably not. However, a majority of Brazilians identify the Ford brand with these model names and based on my experience in Brazil, I understand why. From the mid 70's to the early 80's, Ford's Brazilian offering was almost entirely comprised of the Corcel and Corcel-related vehicles. For this reason, these cars are extremely popular in rural areas and most families recall owning one at one time or another.

Unfortunately, the Corcel, Del Rey, and Belina fall towards practical on the excitement spectrum, but since they are unfamiliar to the average American, the cars are rather interesting. The most curious thing about them is that there is no equivalent US platform for which to compare them. The verdict, all three of these popular models were the result of a joint project by the Brazilian subsidiary of Willys Overland and French automaker Renault. When Ford acquired Willys' Brazilian operation, they inherited a work-in-progress that evolved into the Corcel, based on the Renault 12. The Corcel was a success so Ford continued its' evolution into the late 80's overlapping the availabity and popularity of the Ford Escort.

From a hobbysits perspective, if there was anything that translated well from the United States to Brazil, it was the fact that older cars tend to gravitate towards less-prosperous countryside. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to travel through some regions less traveled by first-time American visitors. On a day trip from Brasilia to the rural city of Pirenoplois I visited a Brazilian wrecking yard to see what I could find.

The Belina was built on the Corcel platform. A utilitarian car whose fence-like grill and stadium headlights were reminiscent of a Volvo.
This 1980 Corcel II almost inspired me with the semi-fastback roofline. Unfortunatley, the only real impressive thing about the Corcel was the tenacity of the model name.

I know, by now you are asking yourself, isn't this FordMuscle? Why are we reading about Ford econo-boxes with 80's Volvo headlights? Well, to truly understand why the next Ford on our list is still a legacy in Brazil, it is important to understand what cars most Brazilians associate with the Ford mark.

(Ford Maverick of Brazil)

In This Article:
International Ford products are more than re-packaged Escorts and Festivas. Ford of Brazil (Ford do Brasil) is no different. There you will find odd platforms wearing the Ford badge, along with familiar models tailored for the market.

One of the most succesful Fords of Brazil was the Corcel. From the mid 70's to the early 80's, Ford's Brazilian offering was almost entirely comprised of the Corcel and Corcel-related vehicles. Don't recognize the platform? That's because it's based on the Renault 12. Yawn.

The Museu do Automoveis in Brasilia, housed this 4-door 1967 Galaxie. One of the few V8's ever produced for Brazil. These Galaxies were equipped with 272cid or 292cid Y-blocks which were made in the Brazilan city of Taubate, near Sao Paulo. To Brazilain standards these were very luxurious cars.

This small block powers a mid-70's Ford LTD (Landau). The 302 is powered by alcohol made from sugar cane. During the world oil shock of the 70's, Brazil began what is now a thriving industry of fuels extracted from the famous sweet crop.

Nothing gave Brazilians a taste of American muscle like the Maverick. They were lucky too because consumer surveys conducted by Ford in 1970 didn't favor the V8 capable Maverick. Non-existent
bumper laws kept all model years of the Mav real clean.


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