According to this Brazilian site, this is the list of the 10 most sold cars in the history of Brazil. Some of them are just for us, while others have been sold in other countries, even in the First World, even if under a different brand, or a different company altogether. Do you think you have a clue? Don’t worry if you don’t, even I was surprised by some.
10th place: Ford Fiesta, 1.2 million and counting
A late comer to Brazil, it only arrived on our shores in its third generation and soon gained local production. Fun to drive, its new version will surely push the nameplate up in the ranking.
9th place: Ford Corcel, 1.3 million
Under the Corcel name, it was produced from 1968-1986. It quite surprised me that it ranked so high because it was never cheap. However, it was the middle class dream for much of its production period. Curiously, this Ford hit is not a Ford. In Brazil, Willys Overland produced Renault cars. When Ford bought the Willys factory, the Renault 12, which this car was, was almost ready. Ford took it, changed the design a little and called it good. It even used Renault’s CHT engine!
8th place: Volkswagen Kombi, 1.5 million
What can one say? It clearly outlived its welcome. It was the 2nd or 3rd car produced in Brazil, even before the Beetle, but after the Chevy Amazonas and Romi-Isetta. Thankfully, new safety regulations killed it off. Here, it was never a hippie car. Rather it served as a family car and as a work horse. By the end of the 60s families had given up on it, but it went on, almost unchanged, and in heavy demand by small businesses, tradesmen etc. until its final demise.
7th place: Chevrolet Corsa, 1.5 million and counting (sort of)
Still in production, albeit called Classic and only as a sedan, the sedan version been outclassed by the more modern compact sedans I have extensively covered for TTAC. However, it lives on due to its bargain basement price and Chevy’s good reputation. The hatch, which would have made up the largest portion of sales, bowed out sooner and with a wimp, a pale memory of the stir created at launch. The cheapest sedan in Brazil!
6th place: Chevrolet Chevette, 1.6 million
This one surprised me. I had no inkling it had sold in such numbers. It was sold all over the world, and clearly Brazilians view on it was much more positive (produced from 1973 to 1994) than the Americans’, where it enjoyed a much shorter life. Curiously, and in direct contrast to the view that we always produce just leftovers from the first world, this car was launched here first, then in Europe, then in America. By the time I came of driving age, it was hideously outdated with its RWD layout and unimpressive internal room.
5th place: Chevrolet Celta, 1.7 million and counting
A simplified version of the Corsa, it rides (very roughly) on the same old (very simplified) platform with little space and some of the cheapest “finishing” one would imagine possible. On the bright side, Chevy’s 1.0 engines are quite strong and pull this featherweight with something approaching gusto.
4th place: Fiat Palio, 2.5 million and counting
Making its debut in 1996, the Palio hatch spawned a large, successful family. Initially a derivation of the old Fiat Uno, it’s now a hybrid between some New Uno and Punto parts. It has established itself as a reliable, affordable car that is not the best of almost anything in its class, but is far from being the worst at anything.
3rd place: Volkswagen Fusca (Beetle), 3 million
Officially, the first Brazilian produced car (not true), it was launched here in 1959 and stayed in production until 1986. Amazingly, it was resurrected in 1993 and lasted another 3 years. Some Fusca sales facts are astonishing, for example, it held over 65 percent of the market some years in the late 60s. Credited with putting Brazilians behind wheels, it wore many shoes in this country and well cared examples can still be seen puttering around, while badly kept ones are yet a daily eyesore.
Runner-Up: Fiat Uno/Mille, 3.2 million and counting
Like the Kombi, it was killed by Fiat’s unwillingness to bestow on it compliance to the new safety regulations mandating airbags and ABS. I contend that it was the true responsible for motorizing Brazil, as its life spanned the decades in which the massification of the car became a reality in Brazil. Launched in 1984, it lasted until last year (in original shape though its successor was launched in 2010 and continues selling briskly) and similarly to its more prestigious brother Palio, fathered a large family. It was always a fun car to drive, roomy, and was capable of attracting people from all walks of life. The building block upon which Fiat built its dominance of the Brazilian market.
Champion: Volkswagen Gol, 6.1 million and counting
Launched in 1980, at first it faltered with undersized engines and low tech. Grudgingly, VW started giving the car what Brazilians wanted and it has been the most sold car in Brazil for almost 30 years. Considered by some the most Brazilian of cars as it has always been developed here, it has gone through 3 generations and many facelifts. 1 million are said to have been exported and it has managed to take the sales crown in some of our neighbors, such as Argentina. It benefits from Volkswagen’s stellar reputation in Brazil. To some here, it’s the only real car. Even if our per capita income doubled in the next couple of years, you can rest assured that the small, compact car, will always find a warm welcome in Brazilians’ hearts.