The original ENVEMO (ENgineering of VEhicles and MOtors) project was born in the late 1970’s when a then young automotive enthusiast in Sao Paulo by the name of Luis Fernando Goncalves, while on a visit to Rio, came home with an old Porsche 356C coupe that he just could not help but purchase.
His father, Angelo, a prominent businessman and fellow automotive enthusiast, took one look at the car and said, “let’s build one of these on a Brasilia floorpan.” Within the year the ENVEMO company was born, making what is still widely regarded as the benchmark of reproduction Porsche cars, the ENVEMO 356C coupe.
I met Luis shortly after this at an automotive exhibition held at the Brazilian Consulate in Dallas, Texas. I was working for Lafer Automoveis, another Sao Paulo based replicator. We were making a kit of the MG-TD based on the Beelte platform of the day. Luis and I became friends instantly and spent many days together, both in the USA and Brazil.
ENVEMO went on to produce about 250 of the coupe version and far fewer, perhaps as few as 40, of the Cabriolet version of the 1965 356C. No expenses were spared and Angelo had a reputation around the shop as a real stickler for exacting detail, right down to the gear ratios in the wind-up window mechanisms!
These were good times, and the cars acquired a small, loyal following. Sadly, the $15,000.00 price tag of the replica was very close to that of an original car of the day, and sales were limited. ENVEMO ceased production after only 4 short years.
In the ensuing years the project bounced around Sao Paulo a bit. (CBP, a Brazilian helmet maker produced a few in the late 1980’s). Eventually the Cabriolet tooling, by now very much worn, found it’s way into our Brazilian production facility along with enough trim and hardware to produce a few additional Cabriolets, which we did, sending them to our USA based assembly shop in Houston, TX. nestled in the corner of Jim Simpsons Blue Ray GT Engineering facility. (See Pseudo Super 90, European Car Magazine, January 1993.)
Production demands for our Beck Spyder 550 and development of the Beck Speedster took precedence and the project, once again, stopped. Suppliers lost trim toolings or disappeared completely and further production became less likely to ever occur. To add to the difficulty the coupe molds were badly damaged in a fire which rendered them useless. Time marched on.
Today, the original ENVEMO coupes and Cabrio’s demand mid 5 figure price tags, and have been highly sought after by European customers, leaving few in the USA. In the recent past wee have even restored a few for loyal German customers! Frankly, if you had told me that, one day, we would be restoring a kit car from our past, I would have thought you…well, let’s just say optimistic.