Brazil has always been the home of fascinating Volkswagen mutant strains, and even when the company started cooling their cars with that stuff you find in toilets instead of air, they managed to continue this tradition. Just look at these bonkers Passat variants that flourished there and no where else in the world.
In the US, we got the first-generation Passat under the ‘Dasher’ name, and it came in three versions: a two-door, a four-door, and a wagon. They got these in Brazil, too, but that wasn’t nearly enough.
See, at the time, Brazil’s government, in a bid to help the country’s industry, limited imports of cars built outside of Brazil severely. Since VW’s Brazil factory made Passats, they were okay, and as the high-end of the VW line, and without much outside competition, the Passat sort of defaulted into the role of the ‘premium’ car.
Unfortunately, the Passat on its own wasn’t really up to filling every premium niche; that’s where the Dacon Volkswagen dealership came in, producing several fascinating Passat variants to satisfy those with tastes and means beyond the everyday Passat. As Brazilian VW site Fusca Classic puts it,
“The Passat Dacon were the cars of playboys more ‘moneyed’...
So let’s look at the Passats those Brazilian moneyed playboys had to pick from:
I’m going to do my favorite one first: the Dacon 180S. It looks like the unholy love child of a first-gen Passat and a Jensen Interceptor, and I sort of love it.
Most noticeably, the rear hatch has been replaced with a very Interceptor-like bubble window, and the rear quarter windows and C-pillar have been modified to accomodate it. The interior was also uprated with leather seats and better trim, an optional full-length canvas sunroof, and, if you wanted a bit more go to match all that show, a dual Weber carb upgrade was an option.
I think this thing is pretty damn cool.
There was also the Dacon 180D version that turned the fastback Passat body into a kicky little three-box coupé, and gave it a face-and-ass-lift by fitting round headlights up front and taillights from the Type III-based VW Variant II at the rear.
The 180D also had a Targa version, which had a lift-off roof and convertible rear roof section, just like a Targa should.
Perhaps this one is maximum Passat-bonkers, a Passat wagon with a Vista Cruiser-style raised roof with skylights. That one change completely transforms the car; a well-sorted Passat Vista Cruiser would make one hell of a practical interesting daily driver.
Other companies got in the game as well, with Sulam of São Paulo producing what might be the craziest one, a Passat dressed up like an Audi Quattro, with taillights from a Fiat Uno and 122 HP on tap.
I don’t think it actually had any Quattro-like anything in that just the front wheels were driven, but all that plastic sure makes it sort of look like a Quattro from a distance, and if you didn’t have any in your country anyway, I suppose that’s enough.
Dacon also made some astounding air-cooled VW-based cars which I’ll cover in detail soon; for now, though, just enjoy the strange mirror universe that is Brazilian VWs.