The Bianco S is a rare sports car from Brazil, though it was designed by an Italian and built on the foundation of a German automobile – the Volkswagen Beetle.
Just 400 examples of the Bianco S are believed to have been made, far fewer than this number remain today, and they’re becoming quite collectible in obscure classic car circles.
Fast Facts – The Bianco S
- The Bianco S was first shown to the world at the Sao Paulo International Motor Show in 1976. It’s a low-slung sports car based on the VW Beetle chassis, with a fiberglass body, and some additional steel reinforcement at the sides and front for safety.
- The VW Beetle had become ubiquitous in Brazil thanks to the fact that Volkswagen had established a factory in the country in 1953 to build the Beetle for the local South American market.
- Due to strict Brazilian import restrictions the local sports car scene was essentially starved of cars, this led to the formation of a few small local manufacturers who often used VW Beetle running gear to keep costs down.
- The Bianco S was sold from 1976 until 1979 when the company shut down, at one point almost two dozen a week were being built, with 320 ultimately manufactured.
Who Is Ottorino “Toni” Bianco?
Ottorino “Toni” Bianco, an Italian immigrant who ventured to Brazil in the aftermath of World War II, embraced the burgeoning opportunities in the rapidly growing South American nation. Settling there permanently, Bianco would leave an indelible mark on Brazil’s nascent racing and sports car scenes.
Regarded as the mastermind behind Brazil’s first ever Formula 3 car, Bianco’s automotive legacy extended beyond this accomplishment, he also conceived a series of open and closed-wheel racing cars that would light up the circuits of Brazil with their own home-grown hero.
Upon his arrival in Brazil, Bianco initially found employment in banks and as a laborer, constructing houses. However, it was his fortuitous association with a mechanical workshop in the traditional Italian neighborhood of Bela Vista, São Paulo, that proved transformative, propelling him into the world of automobile repairs and restoration. Little did he know then that his passion for building cars would endure for over six decades.
In the 1970s, Bianco took the plunge and established his eponymous sports car brand, Bianco, focusing on producing a limited quantity of vehicles based on the Beetle platform. Among the marque’s prominent models were the Bianco S, the Bianco 2 Series, and the Bianco Tarpan, with the Bianco S seeing the highest production figures.
The VW Beetle was being manufactured locally in Brazil, and as such it was one of the most common cars on the road. Beetles could be bought for not a lot of money, and there was already an excellent aftermarket for performance modifications.
Above Video: This Brazilian short film shows Toni Bianco in his workshop, talking about his remarkable and lengthy history building sports and racing cars in Brazil. The film is in Portuguese however you can turn on closed captions (CC) and auto translate to follow along with what he’s saying.
While Bianco eventually shuttered his company in 1979, his love for developing his own unconventional automobiles never waned. Even as late as 2018, at the age of 86, he was busy constructing his own mid-engined sports car within the confines of his garage.
The Bianco S
The Bianco S, a sleek two-door sports car, forms the centerpiece of Bianco’s automotive legacy. Built upon the reliable Beetle platform, the vehicle retains key components including the suspension, brakes, engine, steering, and transmission from its Volkswagen starting point. However, it boasts a sculpted fiberglass body, reinforced with steel at the sides and front to offer improved safety should the car be in an accident.
The quad headlights adorning the Bianco S may trigger a sense of déjà vu – they were sourced from the Volkswagen Variant and are shared with another locally-crafted Brazilian sports car, the Volkswagen SP2.
Impressively, the Bianco S exhibits commendable fit and finish, particularly when measured against the standards prevalent in 1970s VW-based kit cars. Its interior has twin bucket seats, a carpeted floor, a laminated windscreen, a wood-rimmed steering wheel, and a bespoke dashboard and upholstery, all contributing to an overall sense of refinement not often found in Beetle-powered sports cars.
Equipped with a 65 bhp Beetle engine sporting twin carburetors and a 4-speed manual transmission, the Bianco S has respectable performance figures by the standards of Brazilian sports cars of the time. It can do the 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) sprint in 17.7 seconds, and it has a top speed of 91 mph (146 km/h).
While these figures may not astound performance enthusiasts, local Brazilian tuning garages have managed to substantially augment the capabilities of these cars over the years.
During its peak production period, the Bianco S rolled off the assembly line at a rate surpassing 20 units per week, an impressive feat for a small-scale manufacturer. By the end of its production run, a total of approximately 400 vehicles had been built.
Although the exact number of surviving models remains unknown, the Bianco S has achieved cult classic status as a coveted collector’s car within Brazil, while remaining relatively obscure in other parts of the world.
The Bianco S Shown Here
The car you see here is an original Bianco S from 1979 – the final year of production for the popular Brazilian sports car.
This is one of the nicer examples of the car we’ve seen come up for sale recently, largely because it just had over €6,000 spent on bringing it up to a nice specification. The interior has been retrimmed though it could do with some finishing, the steering wheel is showing its age and the stereo head unit is missing.
The fiberglass body is finished in bright yellow, making the car nice and easy to see on the road. It’s fitted with period correct wheels and tires, with power provided by a modified 1.6 liter VW Type 3 flat-four sending power to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission.
The car has a rear cargo area so it can be used for road trips and the like, and as you would expect there’s an engine cover in the rear that opens to show the German power unit. This vehicle has been imported into France and it now carries French collectors’ registration and a current technical inspection.
It’s now being auctioned by Car & Classic out of Tarn-et-Garonne in France and you can visit the listing here if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid.
Images courtesy of Car & Classic
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.