Volkswagen SP2

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Volkswagen SP2
Volkswagen SP2 June 2017 02.jpg
Also calledVolkswagen SP1
  • 1973–1976
  • 11,123 produced
AssemblyBrazil (Volkswagen do Brasil)
DesignerMarcio Piancastelli
Body and chassis
ClassSports car
RelatedVolkswagen Variant
  • SP1 : 1600cc, flat-four-cylinder, air-cooled boxer engine
  • SP2 : 1700cc, flat-four-cylinder, air-cooled boxer engine
  • SP3 (prototype) : 1800cc inline four engine
Wheelbase2,400 millimetres (94.5 in)
Length4,217 millimetres (166.0 in)
Width1,610 millimetres (63.4 in)
Height1,158 millimetres (45.6 in)

The SP2 is a sports car developed by Volkswagen do Brasil for the Brazilian market, and produced from 1972 to 1976. It is based on the Brazilian market Volkswagen Variant.

Origins of the project[edit]

In the 1970s, the Brazilian market was closed for imports. The only sports car officially made there was the aging (and by then retired) Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, and its successor, the Karmann Ghia TC. Only independent car makers were able to fill the gap, notably Puma, Santa Matilde and Miura.[citation needed]

"Project X"[edit]

The Volkswagen subsidiary in Brazil always had some degree of independence from Wolfsburg, so in 1969 they decided to start a new project of their own. A team led by Mr. Schiemann and supported by Rudolf Leiding (the CEO of the subsidiary and later of the entire company), along with his wife Helga Leiding and the designer of the SP2, Marcio Piancastelli, started work on a project they called "Project X".[1][2] They presented a prototype in 1971, but it would take another year before the car reached production.


The SP2 was built on the frame of a Variant, with the same Volkswagen air-cooled engine, but upgraded to 1,700 cc.[3] It developed 75 hp (56 kW), propelling the car from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in around 16 seconds according to period tests and to a top speed of 160 km/h (100 mph). Fuel economy is 10 L/100 km (28 mpg‑imp; 24 mpg‑US).

When the car was presented, it quickly drew media attention, with its many improvements over the local "air cooled" VW line, an impressive interior, its many extra features and its superb finishing. The name officially stands for "São Paulo", but locals gave it the nickname "Sem Potência", which is Portuguese for "without power".[4]


A car named SP1 was also built, similar in almost every aspects but the engine, logo and a few trim items. However, due to its very poor performance (65 hp (48 kW) from a 1,600 cc engine), it was soon discontinued, after only 88 units were built.[5] Despite being praised by critics for its looks, the SP2 failed to beat its main competitor, the Puma, in the performance category. Although they used similar engines, the fiberglass-bodied Puma was much lighter. This resulted in low sales, and the SP2 was discontinued in February 1976.

In total, 10,205 units were made; 670 were exported, of which 155 went to Nigeria. Only one model was delivered to Europe, Portugal. The car is now sought as a valuable collector's item. A white SP2 is displayed in AutoMuseum Volkswagen. While prices during the production time frame were roughly the same as the Beetle, the price of a well-preserved example today is considerably higher than other VW models of its age.

SP3 concept

Successor attempts[edit]

The SP3 concept was an attempt to resolve SP's main problem, lack of engine power, was called "SP3 project". It would be basically an SP2, but with a 1.8L EA-827 (AP in Brazil) engine, water-cooled, 8,5:1, 100 CV (99 hp; 74 kW) SAE at 6,000 rpm and twin carburetors, all "borrowed" from the Brazilian version of the Passat TS. Although nothing came of the factory project, a prototype was made by Dacon who also offered a (prohibitively expensive[citation needed]) conversion kit.[6]

A new Volkswagen sports car directly inspired by the SP2 was considered for the Brazilian market, based on the Golf's platform. It got to the stage where 1:4 scale models produced, but did not progress due to disappointing sales of the similar Scirocco in Europe.[7]


The history of SP2 and its technical specifications are described in the 2021 book VW SP - A história de um ícone. The book was written in Portuguese by Juan Dierckx, a Belgian SP2 enthusiast living in Brazil.[8]



  1. ^ "The Volkswagen SP2 Is The Sexiest Sports Car You've Never Heard Of". Car Throttle. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  2. ^ Torchinsky, Jason. "The Designer of One of the Best Looking VWs Ever Just Died". Jalopnik. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  3. ^ "1972 Volkswagen SP2 Built exclusively for Brazil with world-class styling". Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Throwback Thursday: 1973 Volkswagen SP2". Newsroom. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  5. ^ Rocha, Mazinho (4 March 2012). "Comparativo - VW SP1 X SP2". Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  6. ^ Berezovsky, Sérgio (July 2002). "Grandes Brasileiros: Volkswagen SP2" [Great Brazilian Cars: Volkswagen SP2]. Quatro Rodas (in Portuguese). Editora Abril. Archived from the original on 5 February 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  7. ^ "DESIGN – CARROS QUE NUNCA NASCERAM". Autoentusiastas (in Portuguese). 2 March 2019. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
  8. ^ Rozen, Marcos (31 July 2021). "50 anos após apresentação, VW SP2 terá o primeiro livro do mundo sobre sua história". Auto Esporte (in Portuguese). Retrieved 31 July 2021.

External links[edit]