The Variant II was born to compete with the Opala, but it did not fare well

The Variant II was born to compete with the Opala, but it did not fare well


The station wagon Volkswagen Variant II was a project of Volkswagen of Brazil which presented itself as an evolution of the Variant and in the visual aspect it looked more like a larger version of the Brasilia. It was known as “Brasilião” or “Variantão”.

The Variant II was a project developed in late 1975 by Volkswagen do Brasil after the launch of the Chevrolet Caravan, which achieved sales success. At the same time, Ford was testing Belina changes on the street and the German brand realized that it needed to work on its “Variant” station wagon.

Volkswagen Variant II 1978 (photo: reproduction / VW advertising)

The original variant was also a Brazilian project based on the Beetle and inspired by the VW Type 3 that was sold in Europe. Volkswagen of Brazil created a simpler version here. Realizing that customers were looking for a bigger car, the brand changed to the Variant II in 1977.

– Advertising –

The 1970s was a time of great demand for station wagons, considered at the time to be a vehicle for the whole family. The Chevrolet Caravan arrived in 75, the Belina II and Variant II arrived as a line in 1978.

Variants and Passat items

And how, in a short time, to build a model to compete head-to-head with these competitors? Within a reduced budget, Volkswagen decided to modernize the first Variant by expanding its lines and adding to the project some elements from the Passat, the brand’s most luxurious car at the time here in Brazil. The highlight was the McPherson front suspension, replacing the torsion axle used in the rest of the line.

In Europe there was already a Passat car, but the cost of the product made its arrival in Brazil difficult.

The dashboard of the VW Variant II had very small instruments, measured OGlobo at the time (photo: reproduction)

The engine was a 1.6 boxer (air-cooled and petrol-powered) which produced up to 67 hp of power. The gearbox was a 4-speed manual. Variant II in this combination was capable of going from 0 to 100 km/h in 23 seconds and the top speed was 139 km/h. The average consumption was 11.5 km/l, based on a mixed route, with highways and urban roads.

In dimensions, the Variant II is 4.32 meters long. Only 1 cm more than the first Variant and 25 cm more than the Brasilia. It is 1.63 meters wide, 5 cm larger than its predecessor (6.6 cm shorter and 3.7 narrower than the Caravan).

– Advertising –

In a January 19, 1978 OGlobo magazine test, the publication cited as positive points the soft and firm suspension, large glass area, interior space, driving position and high-quality finish compared to previous VWs. In the negative points, the old engine, bad lighting, aerodynamics and panel design were pointed out. There was no air conditioning and the radio was optional.

Variant II advertisement in a newspaper in 1978 (Photo: Propaganda Históricas Blog publication)

The same OGlobo highlighted at the time that despite appearing large, the luggage space of the Variant decreased after the redesign. There was 467 liters of luggage, less space among competitors. Another interesting thing reported by a journalist at the time was that the rearview mirrors came off where the car went over obstacles on dirt roads. Sinister.

As for the engine, the focus was on several modifications that Volks made to increase the yield by 2hp. However, the car was difficult to ride.

According to Quatro Rodas Magazine, in December 1977 it was possible to buy a Variant II for Cr $88,654. This updated value corresponds to R$ 135,000 in January 2023.

Volkswagen Variant II advertisement in OGlobo magazine in 1978 (photo: reproduction/ OGlobo)

Poor sales and the arrival of the Parati in 1981 killed the model and more than 41,000 cars were produced. It was an early end, as Parati was built with the intention of replacing Brasília. The Variant II was placed in the top category and Volkswagen only launched the Santana Quantum in its place in 1985.

The II variant has aroused the interest of collectors because it is very difficult to find an example for sale in good condition.

How many Variant IIs are still in circulation?

According to Denatran data as of January 2023, there are 20,585 Volkswagen Variant IIs with an active license in Brazil. It does not mean that all cars are roadworthy, but it does mean that these cars have been licensed within the last ten years.