1973 Volkswagen SP2

By Jay Hirsch

First started in 1953, Volkswagen of Brazil (VWB) not only sold Volkswagens, it also engineered and made cars exclusively for the South American market.

By the late 1960s the Brazilian government basically closed the car market to all imports due to prohibitive import taxes. The government wanted to help the growth of the automobile industry in Brazil. Because of this high import tax most automobiles at this time had to be made in Brazil. The only sports-type car sold by Volkswagen was the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, which was showing its age.

Rudolf Leiding, who was in charge of VWB, instructed his staff to design a car that would replace the Karmann Ghia. He also wanted to make VWB independent from Volkswagen of Germany. The other sports type cars sold in Brazil were the Puma, Santa Matilde, and the Miura. 

The car in 1969 that Leiding had in mind to replace the Karmann Ghia was designed by Marcio Piancastelli and was called Project X. When the car was introduced in 1973 it was regarded as a work of art. The SP2’s design was compared quite favorably with more expensive sports cars of the period. As for performance, that was something else…