The tail-end of the last century. I was living in Brasilia. In spite of the stifling bureaucratic nature of the city, officious, uninspired architecture and desolate, nose-bleeding, dry weather, I was very happy. Because of a car. Read More >
I parked and was thinking of the day ahead. I didn’t notice the black shadow approaching my car. When I looked over I was quite startled. Oh no! A flanelinha!
In almost all Brazilian cities, the flanelinha is a fixture. Flanelinha (which loosely translates as flannel man, as in the rag) is the demure name given to the “workers” who divide the streets among themselves and charge drivers to park. Their excuse is that they’re taking care of your car. If you don’t pay up, a fat tire or a big scratch will be a symbol of your chintzyness. Read More >
I needed a cheap car to maintain and insure. I needed a small car that would not call attention and that could be jammed into any tight spot as I would be parking on the street and be going downtown everyday.
I wanted, if possible, a fun car. One that would be good to sit in and be attractive in my eyes.
Weighing all my options, I came to the rather surprising conclusion that a Ford Ka would be the way to go. It best met the criteria I had set.
Ford doesn’t make cars smaller than the Ka. It’s s European thing. In America, you’d get run over in the thing on the second day.
Based on a shortened version of the 90s Fiesta platform, the Ka is a very direct car. Noise is part of the experience. You hear the tires, the engine intrudes. However, the engine makes noises that instigate.
August 2010. My life is a mess. My marriage is going down the proverbial drain. I’m totally fed up with my work. My wife’s company is struggling and sucking more money than it’s bringing. Mom’s dying of cancer. Cigarettes.
All of this is reflected on me. I’m turning 39, but I feel and look 45. No sense of a future. No way out. September comes along and mamãe passes on. This moment of intense grief bring me and my wife close together. The closest we’ve been in more than a while. For a while … Read More >
This is the fifth and last installment of the Pictorial History of the Brazilian Car, a five part series, brought to you by our boy in Brazil, Marcelo de Vasconcellos. Part one one took you back to the beginnings, part two did let you revisit the turbulent 60s. Part three took your to Brazil’s malaise years, with nothing more than facelifts. Part four took you to a Brazil of change. The fifth and last part finally brings you to the past decade.
The Workers’ Party finally elected their eternal candidate, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as President. Before he took power, there was some panic and almost 5 reais were necessary to buy a dollar. Inflation seemed to be back. Read More >
Venturing into part four of the Pictorial History of the Brazilian Car, a five part series, brought to you by our boy in Brazil, Marcelo de Vasconcellos, we finally get into times where most of our readers were alive. Part one one took you back to the beginnings, part two did let you revisit the turbulent 60s. Part three took your to Brazil’s malaise years, with nothing more than facelifts. This part takes you to …
The 90s Read More >
This is part three of the Pictorial History of the Brazilian Car, a five part series, brought to you by our boy in Brazil, Marcelo de Vasconcellos. Part one one took you back to the beginnings, part two did let you revisit the turbulent 60s. This part takes you to …
For countries up north, this was the end of the malaise and the beginning of party time. In Brazil, it was the decade of doom and gloom. Politically, the military regime was running out of steam. Gradual democratization was unavoidable. Culturally, the country exploded. Censorship, which had marked the 70s, disappeared. Playboy showed full frontal (female) nudity to grateful teenage boys and men. Brazilian rock came into its own. Economically, the country tried hard, but ran hard to stay in the same place. This decade is often referred to as the lost decade. Foreign debt was the overriding problem. The dollar became king. Inflation was reaching hyper mode. People didn’t have money. Smaller and smaller cars took a bigger and bigger piece of the sales pie. Read More >
This is part two of the Pictorial History of the Brazilian Car, a five part series, brought to you by our boy in Brazil, Marcelo de Vasconcellos. Part one one took you back to Brazil’s Stone age (WW II and thereafter.) This part takes you to …
The 50s were the golden era of Rio. The 60s marked the rise of São Paulo. Rio: sun, fun, beach and romance. São Paulo: drizzle, dirt, work and gray. Read More >
This Pictorial History of the Brazilian Car has been graciously made available by our man in Brazil, Marcelo de Vasconcellos. This is part one of a five part series.
When writing about Brazil and the Brazilian car industry, many of times it has been pointed out to me that made of the statements I made were very broad and didn’t take into account the many nuances of our automotive history. Specifically, the statement that Brazil has done little but take old stamping presses from corporate HQs and produced technically inferior cars has proven to provoke repercussions. So, in order to correct some of that, I’ve been inspired by your comments to write a brief history of the Brazilian car industry. Happy reading for a beautiful sunny, summer morning (well at least from my little corner of the world)! Hopefully, you will also get a better hang of what the hell I’m always going on about!
Brazil was a little, isolated, largely agricultural country back then. Read More >