My involvement with Specialty Cars from Brazil goes back to the late 1970’s.
I worked for Groupo Commercial Exportadora (GCE) with the USA warehouse on Navigation Blvd. in Houston, TX. , in association with Trans Trading Brasil (TTB), based in Sao Paolo, BR. TTB was involved is supplying VW components from VW do Brasil factory to the manufacturers of these type cars as well as the many resellers of VW parts in the USA. (EMPI, IAP, Century, CB Performance and more. )
GCE was established to handle the introduction and marketing of the then recently developed “kit” cars from these Specialty car makers. This included PUMA, ENVEMO, Lafer, Avallone, LeAutomobile (Ventura), and a few others. The photo from HI-PERFORMANCE KIT CARS magazine, V2 #2, Summer 1985 shows the Houston warehouse with a MUCH younger me in front of the 6 of the dozen or so Ventura kits that were imported here. (You may also notice that the inset photo has racks of PUMA GTC and GTI kits (I count 17 visible with over 60 units in stock at that time.)
This VENTURA “kit” was sold in the mid 1980’s to a man in Atlanta and sat under a tarp in his back yard with nothing done for almost 20 years when he located me and asked if I would rescue it. It was still sitting on the wooden pallet, as delivered. Needless to say it was not in the same condition. Chuck Beck and I went to pick it up. It has remained in one of our BECK warehouses since that time.
As I now have another Ventura (the White one) and our expansion plans here at the BECK factory require thinning of the “way back burner” projects we have decided to offer this here.
Included in this emailing are a series of photos of the VENTURA taken last week as we organized it, cleaned it up a bit, and made notes of what is there, missing, or in need of replacement. I will try to best describe it and add notes to the photos where helpful.
There were likely less than 150 of these made during the production. I know of less than a dozen brought to the USA. All were the early air cooled version. (Toward the end of production they briefly introduced a water cooled model as well.)
The VENTURA was styled after the VW SP2, made by Karmann Ghia in SP, BR.
It uses all of the greenhouse (glass) of the SP2, which is a blessing as these windshields, side and rear glass are still available. (This one has all good glass currently.)
It was built on a full length Brasilia chassis which used a disc brake front beam, and a swing axle style transaxle which were both common VW Fusca/Brasilia components of the day.
The body is “chopper gun” fiberglass done in the manner that was most common in BR in that time. It is a bit thick, quite substantial, and has excellent fit of the doors, hood, and rear deck lid. The doors have roll up windows (they work fine), and all of the latching mechanisms for the doors, hood, and deck lid are in place.
It has a full set of factory installed gauges, wiring harness, wiper motor, fuse block, center console with Bosch radio, shifter mechanism, park brake mechanism, etc. (See photos).
Inside there are:
A pair of cloth seats in need of recovering.
A pair of the tail light lenses. ( VW part, but do not remember which model.)
A full set of the carpet which can be used for patterns. (Black)
The full headliner is perfect.
A Brasilia fuel tank with locking cap.
Windshield washer bottle with pump.
5 small vent trim pieces for the louvered side vents (the kit needs 4 of these now.)
The dash is covered in black vinyl and is in good shape. I wiped it off quickly for the photos, but did not “clean” it . The glove box door is in need of recovering in black vinyl to match.
One door panel is in place and the other is included. These are useable but are a simple thing to upgrade with superior materials.
The dash board got a quick wipe down and the gauges and switches are in place and show no damage from the years of storage.
The steering column is in place. The steering wheel is history, however, we have plenty of “take-off” wheels that you may choose from, no extra cost for this.
The ignition switch is in place with a full set of keys.
The I.D. plate from LeAutomobile is under the hood and remains unstamped at this time.
The sun visors are there but the clips that hold them at the center are broken off. Common VW part.
BODY AND CHASSIS DETAILS
The chassis is full length Brasilia, which is similar to the Beetle, but more square at the footwell like a Ghia. It is complete to the front horn where the front beam bolts. The master cylinder, brake lines, brake light switches, brake fluid reservoir, fuel tank, gas cap, electric antenna were all part of the original package and factory installed.
The rear suspension is swing axle style, complete to the spring plates with the torsion bars installed and properly “clocked”. (Adjustable spring plates such as the Sway Away versions can be easily substituted for ease of ride height adjustment.
The doors, hood and rear deck lid have excellent fit with the latches and release cables in place. All the rubber seals for these panels are history, however, we have rubber used in our BECK Speedster and Super Coupe production that are available and will replace these dried ones very well. (Extra cost but very reasonable as we buy a lot of this type material.)
The front bumper is removable and was placed on and held with the yellow tape to give an idea of how it appears when installed. LeAutomobile used a single large headlight (see the brochure photo), however, we though the smaller rectangular set on each side looked better and was an easy install. (I do not remember which car they were from at this time but I am sure someone will have a suggestion.
As you can imagine there are some challenges to this project. I would like to say here that this is a very good opportunity to build a very solid, unique car whose quality of workmanship far exceeded the “norm” in the industry in the early 1980’s.
CHALLENGE #1, the largest will be replacement of at least a portion of the pan sections, both the driver and the passenger side where the seats mount. This is where the kit rested on the pallet and these 2 areas a rusted through.
Those of you familiar with the belly pan construction used by VW will know that while these sections of floor are perforated that the “center spine” of the chassis remains quite intact. The body is mounted to the pan in the same manner as all VW’s of the era. Bolted. It could be removed from the pan if desired for repair of the pan or to mount to your own custom chassis design.
Drivers exterior door handle is missing. I will have to ask one of my friends in BR which car this was from. Still available. Same as PUMA GTC/GTI 1983 and up if memory serves.
There is a short, metal valence panel across the bottom of the rear of the body missing. Do not remember which car it was from, likely the SP2. Can be filled easily by competent builder.
The paint is long since gone. There are NO stress cracks or any other damage to the body. It will require prep, prime and painting.
I am sure that even with this expanded description and photos there will be many questions that arise. I will photograph whatever you would like to see to the best of my ability.
THIS PROJECT IS NOT FOR THE BEGINNER. The VENTURA was very well made, and these “kits” were extremely complete. NO DOUBT that time has taken a toll on some parts and there is a lot of cleaning of surface rust (like the tank, hinges, etc.) Upholstery work, paint prep, paint, …..well you know the drill and whether you can do this or not.
Unanswerable questions include such things as is the master cylinder still good, does the radio work, the gauges, etc. It is an antique for goodness sake!
We here at BECK simply do not have the time to build this but will sell whatever components we use in production (such as rubber seals), etc. What we can not do is take time from our overloaded work schedules to answer “novice” questions. “How do I ………? I will help wherever I can.
As for the power plant, it is intended for the flat sheetmetal version of the VW air cooled, 4 cylinder engine. We do a lot of Subaru powered Speedsters and Coupes and the Ventura is an excellent candidate for this .
SO, IF YOU ARE A REASONABLY TALENTED FABRICATOR ( or more) WITH THE DESIRE TO BUILD SOMETHING REALLY UNIQUE THIS MIGHT BE FOR YOU. IT IS A STRIKING CAR WITH A LOT GOING FOR IT.
I am Kevin Hines, Director (Semi-Retired) of the BECK operations here in Bremen, IN. Our number is 574 546-4656 and my direct email is email@example.com.
MANY PHOTOS WITH DESCRIPTIONS ATTACHED.
Questions? Call Kevin 574 546-4656
Want a photo of anything specific, or just additional details.
Contact me by phone or email me at:
574-546-4656 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This unique project makes a really solid little car that remains stylish even after so many years.
ALL OFFERS WILL BE CONSIDERED, AS THIS PROJECT HAS TO GO . WE ARE EXPANDING OUR PRODUCTION AREAS AND STORAGE OF OLD PROJECTS MUST END.
OUR LOSS IS YOUR GAIN.
Beck Automotive Gallery119 N. Liberty Drive Bremen, IN 46506(574) 546-4656 - shop
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