Brazilian Gull-Winged Lambada: The Hofstetter

As automotive design goes, at least in general shapes, there are few as distinctive as Lamborghini's wedges. Sure, there were other cars with similar profiles, such as Lancia's Strato's Zero HF, some Listers, or Vectors, but all of them were surely described at some point as "that car resembling a Lamborghini".

The Hofstetter, designed by a 27 year old millionaire, never attempted to pull off such a feat. Indeed, in extremely-taxated-for-imports 1980s Brazil, it was a selling point to be similar -even mistaken by many- to a Lamborghini, since positively no Lamborghini would be seen happily cruising in Brazil's streets and highways.


The car itself was structured around a tubular steel chassis bodied in glass fiber, which then got bolted a medley of several parts from different locally-manufactured vehicles, ranging from a Mercedes truck windshield wiper to the 1.8l water-cooled VW Gol GTI engine, subsequently upgraded to VW Santana's 210 hp powerplant. Just like Lamborghini then, since they too sourced from VW's parts bin (zing!). Anyhow, that engine made the lightweight (1,120 kg, or short of 2,500 lbs) Hofstetter go from 0 to 100kph -62mph- in 9.3 seconds and reach a top speed of 200+ kph, or 125 mph.

While those specs, despite being considerably serious for any sportscar in brazilian roads back in the day, were far from impressive when compared to imports, none of that mattered since it also resembled a Lamborghini in the added quirkiness and gadgets it came with: Fixed side windows, gullwing doors, pop-up headlamps, and even an extractor fan that went on to work whenever the ashtray was opened.

Price, however, was also in the supercar league -around Cz$820,000 / USD 60,000 back in 1986-, or more than the price of a brand new BMW M6 in Germany, which, of course, meant that in Brazil the car was about 4x the price of a hot-hatch.


Add all of the above, plus a huge financial crisis back in Brazil in the late 80s- early 90s, and you end up with only 18 cars produced, closing in 1991. Unlike Lamborghini, they couldn't recover from bankruptcy, thus putting an end to a car that was brave enough to offer -really expensive- handbuilt quirkiness amidst a sea of underpowered econoboxes.


Esportivos Brasileiros, Márcio Antonio Sonnewend

Quatro Rodas magazine, September 1986……

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