close
close

The largely forgotten L’Automobile Ventura is a Brazilian kit car with a special charm

Over the decades, Volkswagen has always maintained its reputation as a manufacturer of reliable and affordable vehicles for the masses. However, some companies have tried to change the status quo by releasing easy-to-assemble kit cars based on Volkswagen’s old air-cooled mechanicals.

In Brazil, one of these companies was L’Automobile Distribuidora de Veículos Ltda. from São Paulo, which developed a cool sporty fiberglass kit car that no one remembers today. We’re talking about the L’Automobile Ventura, a sports car developed in the 1970s and built on a modified Volkswagen chassis. The example pictured here is an original 1980s L’Automobile Ventura that is now for sale as a project car and could be your very affordable entry into sports car ownership.

If you’re familiar with the struggles of the Brazilian automotive market in the 1970s and 1980s due to the country’s partially closed economy, you probably know that during this time, many small companies popped up to fill gaps in the automotive market with readily available VW mechanicals. Using the tried and tested recipe of combining a sexy body with standard, Brazilian-made VW chassis, L’Automobile created a striking sports car with far more modern styling that could compete with other locally built models like the Puma and SP2.

L'Automobile Ventura made in Brazil

Photo by: Bring a Trailer

Unveiled at the 1978 National Motor Show in São Paulo, the Ventura was offered both as a factory-built vehicle and as a kit that was easy to build and could be completed at home in just a few days. Designed as a more contemporary, up-to-date alternative to the standard VW models available at the time, it featured a fiberglass body with a monocoque construction.

It had roll-up windows, two seats, a carpeted interior, large rectangular headlights from the Dodge Polara, a prominent hood bulge and taillights from the Alfa Romeo GTV, displaying a design that was considered progressive and innovative by the standards of the mid-1970s. In fact, at first glance it’s hard to believe that a VW floorpan is hiding under the fiberglass body, especially given the Ventura’s rather long nose and short fastback rear.

The sports car was offered in two main variants – the SLE model with an air-cooled 1.6-litre VW flat-four engine and the RS variant with a liquid-cooled 1.6-litre VW Passat TS engine. It was produced until the early 1990s, and later models received a more powerful air-cooled 1.8-litre engine with 84 bhp, which reportedly allowed the car to accelerate to 185 km/h (115 mph).

L'Automobile Ventura made in Brazil

Photo by: Bring a Trailer

In many ways, the Ventura was very similar to the Puma sports car. However, while the VW-based Puma GT became one of the most successful sports cars ever produced in the country, the Ventura is a rather obscure GT model that very few have heard of. Had Volkswagen ever built a GT predecessor to the Scirocco and Corrado, it would probably have been far more successful than the Ventura, even if it didn’t look as good. Unfortunately, the Ventura was quickly labelled as “just another kit car”, despite the fact that it looked, felt and performed like a real sports car.

There is no information on actual production numbers, but sales were rather modest. Although L’Automobile also exported the Ventura as a kit car to other countries, including the United States, Germany and Argentina, most examples remained in Brazil, which explains why not many can identify it outside its home country.

This makes the model in question here very rare. Manufactured in the 1980s and assembled under the previous owner, this particular Ventura is painted yellow with black stripes and features distinctive rectangular headlights and a rear tailgate. Under its hood is a 1.6-litre VW flat-four engine with twin Weber downdraft carburettors for improved performance. Described as a project car, it certainly needs work as it shows obvious signs of wear, but the current owner says it is roadworthy.

L'Automobile Ventura made in Brazil

Photo by: Bring a Trailer

It rides on 13- and 14-inch western-style alloy wheels with Bridgestone Potenza tires. Power is transmitted to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission, and braking power is provided by drum brakes on all four wheels.

The carpeted interior features two bucket seats with bolstering and patterned black and gray upholstery. There is also a classic three-spoke steering wheel, AM/FM cassette radio, and VDO and Cronomac instruments.

This rare L’Automobile Ventura is now for sale in Encinitas, California and the hammer will fall in a few days. It is being sold with no reserve and the Arizona title identifies the car as a 1989 Puma. Given its current condition, it would be a labor of love to revive it, so we hope someone with enough passion and the right means will purchase this fascinating sports car and breathe new life into it.