The FNM logo.

Hey oppo! I’ve been thinking about starting a little series about unknown brazilian and Latin american cars for a while now, and since I’m bored out of my mind at work today, here goes nothing.

Let’s start with one of the most interesting ones so you don’t fall asleep halfway through. This is the history of the FNM Onça.

FNM stands for Fábrica Nacional de Motores (National Engine Manufacturer) and was created by the brazilian government back in the late 30's, when there was a big industrial push going on in Brazil. Due to some political turmoil and the end of WWII years after it’s foundation, there was no longer a need for a engine manufacturer over here, so the company struggled to find a market for some time. Thanks to a deal with Isotta Fraschini some years later though, it became the first truck manufacturer in Brazil, making 200 units of a model called the D-7.300, which was basically a IF D80 model. But then Isotta Fraschini ran out of money and could no longer ship the power units that FNM was using, so they turned to Alfa Romeo next.

The FNM D-7.300.

It was under the Alfa Romeo deal that FNM really thrived, making approximately 15.000 vehicles, between cars and trucks. It then got sold off to Alfa during the military dictatorship, and after that Fiat bought the FNM factory and closed down all operations.

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But the history of the Onça started in the 1960's, when FNM was at its peak. At the time, they were already producing the FNM JK 2000, an Alfa Romeo 2000 made under license and also the most expensive vehicle made in Brazil at the time.

The FNM JK 2000. The ‘JK’ was a tribute to the brazilian president at the time, Juscelino Kubitscheck.

During the same period, farmer and designer Genero “Rino” Malzoni was making the rounds with his “Malzoni GT” a fiberglass sports car that used DKW engines and proved competent at the track. He was put in charge of designing a sports coupe for FNM, using components from the FNM JK 2000.

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The Malzoni GT Type II. Rino Malzoni made several variations of the Malzoni GT which paved the way for the ‘Puma’, one of the most well know brazilian cars ever. photo taken from: rinomalzoni.com

And design a sports coupe he did! Sort of. Just look for yourself:

Now you don’t have to wonder what a italian....er, brazilian Mustang would look like anymore. photo: Christian Castanho/Quatro Rodas

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115hp of fury. More power than the original 6 cylinder Mustang. It’s something. photo: Christian Castanho/Quatro Rodas

That looks a lot like a Ford Mustang! FNM loved that and greenlit it almost immediately, with a small catch. They decided to not use the FNM name, but the Alfa Romeo one. (Back then everyone was already all about the #brands)

They just forgot to give Alfa a little heads up.

When the italians found out they wanted FNM to send them a test vehicle to judge if the car was worth the Alfa badge. The changes they ultimately wanted the vehicle to go through ended up being to much for FNM and they axed the project, but some units still got produced. Sources diverge on the actual number, but everyone agrees that it was less than 10.

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No one really know how many cars still exist today, but the one on the pictures is a one owner car that received a complete restoration some years ago.

So there you go Oppo! As always, let me know about all my spelling errors and if you like to see more of this type of stuff, please say so!