Jalopnik, a website of attractive idiots, is occasionally wrong. Already twice this week we have sung the praises of the new Atlas Tanoak mid-size truck concept, when VW has already been making the perfect pickup truck.
Even I had totally forgotten about this thing. I think I left my memory of it tucked away in the back of my brain next to where they went in all of those honeycomb crisp ads (the honeycomb hideout) and which Japanese car company built a set of five-valve-per-cylinder heads for the Cosworth DFV F1 engine (Yamaha). But it all came flooding back when a reader Tyler wrote in saying he had spotted a truck in the Bay Area that he couldn’t identify and wondered if we could help out.
“Oh yeah, I know that thing,” I shouted in the office, leaping up. “It’s one of those little Mexican-market Volkswagen pickups!”
Indeed, that’s sort of the trick of this car. Volkswagen sells this vehicle in North America, just not to in the United States.
It’s called the Volkswagen Saveiro, and is part of a whole class of vehicles that we would understand quite well in America. The Saveiro is just a Volkswagen Gol (a small economy car a step down from the Golf or Polo) with a pickup bed, like an El Camino-ized compact car.
The Saveiro goes much farther back than you might think, right to the early 1980s. It was a program from Volkswagen’s innovative Brazilian division, which came up with the little Gol and brought the Saveiro to market a few years later. Both were hits, as The Truth About Cars recounts in its big history of the Gol:
The Gol suddenly became a hit. So much so that the Brasilia was retired. The family though would not be complete until the arrival of the Saveiro pick-up in 1983. It used the same engine as the hatch, but urban playboys would fall in love with it. Slowly, but surely, more and more Saveiros were sold to city dwellers. Lots of them young, male and stupid. It would be (and still is) a hit among the tuner crowd.
Since this is just a compact car with a pickup bed, it’s not particularly powerful or fast, but it’s economical. A new one runs you 205,000 pesos on VW Mexico’s commercial site, or about $11,000 USD.
Sadly, you can get them with two rows of seats. A real shame.
Again, this is not an extraordinary car. Fiat Chrysler has its own compact car pickup as does GM, selling a pickup version of its old, small Opel Corsa platform. These cars are popular in all kinds of auto markets across Central and South America, in South Africa and elsewhere.
The only thing is that us Americans are too soft and cushy (or that our safety standards too stringent) to ever make it seem like we want or deserve the Saveiro. But even if we don’t deserve it, I at least want one.