The accepted hagiography of the Ford empire involves the firesale of all of Ford’s various brands in the aftermath of the financial crisis, with only the Blue Oval and the Lincoln Motor Company sticking around for the ride. But that’s not quite accurate.
As of late Brazil has been on a roll and a multitude of makers have set up or are in the process of setting up in our tropical paradise. Everybody from Jaguar to Hyundai (not to mention a motley crew of Chinese brands) are placing their bets, but they face an obstacle that nobody has really noticed: the existence of a number of foreign makes that locals consider, well, local. Among them, the most Brazilian of makes – Volkswagen. Currently trailing Fiat, and sometimes GM, VW nonetheless is as Brazilian as feijoada, and for the first time in decades, VW has deemed us worthy of getting a taste of the best they have to offer on their European menu, the whimsically named up!.
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Another victim of government meddling in Brazil’s auto market is dead. Fiat’s venerable old Uno, redubbed the Mille a while ago, will not receive airbags and ABS, as per a newly mandated law, and thus will go into history’s dustbin alongside VW’s Kombi. As a farewell, Fiat has unleashed into the Brazilian market its own last edition, the Grazie Mille (“Thanks a Thousand” a clever pun on the car’s official name, Mille, though the market still calls it Uno). It can be had for slightly over $13,000, and it’s the most well equipped Uno Mille of recent times. A nod back to when this car had the panache to dispute middle class families’ hearts.
On the off chance that someday you might walk into your local Ford dealership in Kalamazoo and buy a Brazilian-built Ford EcoSport, at least you now get the ease of mind that it got five stars from Latin NCAP, the institution that tests cars sold in Latin America, in Germany, using pretty much Euro NCAP standards. So it would seem that, as TTAC has previously reported, Brazilian cars may not all be deathtraps.
Spy photos in Germany of a heavily camouflaged small Ford have set the Brazilian blogosphere on fire. The initial photos were published by a Malaysian site that didn’t really know what they were seeing. It turns out that it’s actually the new Ford Ka, a very important car for our market (and the car I currently drive).
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 >