The Porsche from Brazil
By James Grahame
OK, so it's a reproduction of a classic German design, but Brazil has long been the source of interesting automobiles thanks to import restrictions that encouraged the domestic auto industry.
One of the most famous Brazilian sports cars of the 1970s and 1980s was the beautiful VW-based Puma, with sales of over 22,000 vehicles. Puma co-founder Milton Masteguin now helms Chamonix, a small Brazilian car company that turns out reproductions of the famed Porsche 550 and 356 cars. The vehicles are based on designs by American Chuck Beck, offering a wonderful combination of old-fashioned good looks and modern engineering.
My favorite is the beautiful air-cooled Chamonix 550. It's a derivative of Ferdinand Porsche's legendary race car that took the world by storm in 1953. This modern replica is built around a 3-inch DOM tubular space-frame chassis and is available in several configurations. $18,995 gets you a pre-assembled body package. It's pre-painted, with the doors and hood mounted and a full leather interior. A VDO instrument cluster is installed and all major wiring is complete. All you require to finish your car is the engine, transaxle, tires, fluids and approximately 30 hours of assembly time.
The choice of powerplant is limited only by your sanity and the space within the rear engine compartment. A popular choice is a 1915 cc 4-cylinder VW-based engine that puts out 125 HP. It retails for $6,000 and is capable of propelling the vehicle from 0-60 mph in a respectable 5.8 seconds, with a top speed of 130 mph (209 kph). To top everything off (literally), the modern version includes a removable scissor-steel mechanism convertible top.