- The Renault Torino Grand Routier: about as French as the Great Lakes

Not the crossovers you were thinking about

The Fiat range these days might be filled with models linked to other manufacturers, but South America had more than its fair share once

22w ago

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With Autocade turning 12 this week, I’ve looked back a little at the history of the site.

It’s recorded some oddballs that many of you will already know, such as the Peugeot Roa or RD1600 (rear-drive): the 405 on Hillman Hunter running-gear from Iran.

I also love how automotive acquisitions and joint ventures give rise to cars unique to a particular market or region, and here are some of my picks. I haven’t even begun with the cars that arose out of Australia’s Button Plan. Maybe another time.

The IKA Torino, the first Argentinian facelift of the Rambler American

The IKA Torino, the first Argentinian facelift of the Rambler American

Rambler by Renault

The Rambler American was a cleanly designed compact by US standards, styled by Richard Teague and his team. Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA), the Argentine affiliate of American Motors, sold a facelifted model with new front and rear ends by Pininfarina, calling it the Torino, where Pininfarina was based. It even gained the city’s prancing horse emblem. It had a slightly longer wheelbase, too. By Argentine standards, it was a large car. Renault took over IKA in 1975 and kept the Torino going as its flagship there. There were proposals for a range-topping Renault 40 but it never saw production; the fuel crises of the 1970s wouldn’t have helped.

Ford Corcel Mk I, owing its roots to Renault’s Project M

Ford Corcel Mk I, owing its roots to Renault’s Project M

Renault by Ford

Willys-Overland do Brasil and Renault cooperated on a front-wheel-drive car (dubbed Project M) to replace the Dauphine, developed in parallel with the Renault 12. Ford gained control of Willys in 1967, inheriting its models, as well as Project M, ultimately releasing it as the Ford Corcel in 1968. On passenger cars alone, excluding the Pampa utility, the Corcel and its Corcel II and Del Rey derivatives survived until 1991, with a Volkswagen 1·8 at the top of the range.

The ad says Chrysler, but the basic design is Ford

The ad says Chrysler, but the basic design is Ford

Ford by Chrysler

Ford France developed a large saloon to replace the first-generation Vedette in 1954, using its new Aquillon side-valve V8. It was shown at the Salon de Paris, but shortly went into production with Simca badges, after the French firm took over Ford’s French operations. A new body appeared in 1957, and it was this that saw production in Brazil, still with the side-valve V8. Simca gave it a thicker C-pillar in 1964, and in 1966, there was a major facelift. By this point, the Vedette (which actually never wore Vedette badges) had two names in Brazil: Regente, and Esplanada; the basic Alvorada and luxury Presidence having been superseded. As in France, Chrysler came knocking, taking over Simca, and by 1967, these former big Fords had Chrysler badges.

Most of us expected to see that designation on a 1967–70 Beetle

Most of us expected to see that designation on a 1967–70 Beetle

Chrysler by Volkswagen

I wasn’t thinking of the Volkswagen Routan here, which was still made by Chrysler. I was thinking of the Hillman Avenger, the Rootes (UK) design that US readers will know as the Plymouth Cricket. The Avenger design went to South America, too, as the Dodge 1500 in Argentina and Dodge 1800 in Brazil; later the 1800 was facelifted and improved and became the Dodge Polara. When Chrysler found itself in deep financial trouble in the 1970s, Lee Iacocca sold the Argentinian and Brazilian operations to Volkswagen. The Polara was killed off, but the Dodge 1500 lived on as a budget model, donning Volkswagen badges after a revamp in 1982. To a lot of Argentinians, ‘Volkswagen 1500’ is not a Beetle.

The 1971 Fords, in an advertisement shared by Michael on Flickr (Creative Commons 2·0), https://www.flickr.com/photos/ifhp97/16270387833/in/photostream/

The 1971 Fords, in an advertisement shared by Michael on Flickr (Creative Commons 2·0), https://www.flickr.com/photos/ifhp97/16270387833/in/photostream/

Willys by Ford

When Ford took over Willys-Overland do Brasil, it inherited both the local version of the Jeep and the Aero Willys sedan, which had undergone a rebody in 1963, with straight-edged lines styled by Brooks Stevens. In 1969, it became the Ford Aero-Willys, and remained in production, along with the Itamaraty luxury model, at Sao Bernando do Campo till 1972.

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Comments (3)

  • The original IKA Torino was a great thing. A few entered an endurance race at the Nurburgring and no one other than Juan Manuel Fangio was the team manager!

      5 months ago
  • Honda Crossroad.

    Or VW Routan.

      5 months ago
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