Igala – the African Brasilia

Production at VW’s plant in Lagos, Nigeria included the Beetle, Jetta, Santana – and a rather curious creation called the Igala, which was basically a Brasilia in ‘completely knock down’ (CKD) form for the African market. We came across an original sales brochure which prompted us to delve a little deeper into its origins…


The car got its name for the Yoruba word for ‘antelope’ and went on sale there in 1976 and lasted until the arrival of the Gol in 1980, with over a million being produced in that time. Designed by Marcio Piancastelli, it was basically an African 412 lookalike that owed its success to back to basics, no-nonsense fundamentals of the people’s car…


Meant as a more family oriented Beetle, unsurprisingly much of the Igala’s running gear – including the 1584cc 54bhp flat-four air cooled engine – was taken from the Type 1. This explains the somewhat high boot loading height to accommodate the Beetle’s upright fan housing which contrasts with the 411/412 much flatter boot floor. As well as the 1.6 single carb setup, a 1300cc 49bhp alcohol fuelled engine option was offered.

As an interesting if not rather worrying footnote to the actual Brasilia launch, an eager reporter caught a glimpse of several pre-launch models being tested close to VWs factory, only to be chased off rather viciously by security guards who eventually opened fire when the journalist ignored their request for him to stop taking pictures. In the furore that followed, Volkswagen had to issue an official apology to the now somewhat shaken correspondent who went on to secure a job at one of the country’s top car magazines!


With its extra pair of doors, the Igala proved a popular model in Nigeria although it seems very few ever come up for sale in Europe. Indeed, even the more common Brasilia seems extraordinarily scarce, with the only one we saw for sale on the web up for an astonishing $13,000 or about £7,000.


If anyone out there’s got one, we’d love to hear about it….



3 responses to: Igala – the African Brasilia

  1. My dad had a VW Igala when he lived in Sokoto in the mid to late ’70s. It was only years later that I found out it was a locally assembled VW Brasilia. VW Nigeria also assembled the Passat, from Brazilian kits. However the reliability of Brazilian-sourced cars left something to be desired – he would write us letters telling us about the problems he was having with them, with cartoons of tearful faces.

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