DKWs in Brazil

This car belongs to Flavio Gomes, a Brazilian automotive journalist who bought it 11 years ago and kept it in original condition. He still drives it once or twice a week.

The DKW cars were made in São Paulo, Brazil, by a group called Vemag (Veículos e Máquinas Agrícolas S/A). Until the association with Auto Union, in 1956, Vemag imported and provided parts for Studebaker and Scania-Vabis in all over the country. It was a time of fast industrialization. The first DKW-Vemag model, launched towards the end of 1956, was a little station wagon with a three-cylinder two-stroke engine, 900cc and 40 bhp. This car would be called "Vemaguet". Two years later, DKW-Vemag begun the production of a sedan four door (almost like the Sonderklasse), and also the Candango off-roader (it was known in Germany as the Munga).
In 1960, the brazilian DKW cars had been equipped with the same 980cc and 50 bhp engine from the German Auto Union 1000. A lot of modifications took place during the following years. By the '60s DKW was one of the most popular cars in the country.
The DKW Sedan was renamed to Belcar. At races, DKW had a lot of success and soon a sport prototype, named Malzoni was created. The most interesting Vemag model was the Fissore - an elegant and expensive two door sedan designed in Italy that used DKW parts. This car was made only in Brazil (between 1964 and 1967), but "carozzeria Fissore" also created different models for Auto Union in Germany and in Argentina.
Unfortunately, the financial administration of Vemag wasn't as good as the cars. In 1967, Volkswagen do Brasil took control of DKW-Vemag. The assembly lines were dismantled to produce the Volkswagen 1600 boxy sedan (an ugly version of the VW Notchback). At the same time, VW bought Auto Union in Germany.
Today, DKWs are rare on Brazilian roads - most cars belong to collectors and DKW fanatics. Last year, I saw some Auto Union cars made in the '60s in Argentina (made there, but were similar to Brazilian models) and in Uruguay (made in German).
Here in Rio de Janeiro, a garage works with the two stroke cars until today.

Words & pictures are courtesy of Jason Vogel, a reporter for O Globo and Flavio Gomes.


© April, 1998-20023
Pal Negyesi
Budapest, Hungary

As the maintainer of KTUD archive for years I'd appreciate if You'd not reintroduce the pictures which are featured here elsewhere without a polite notice. THANKS! Pal Negyesi