Gurgel Motors S.A. was a Brazilian automaker , developed by engineer John Augustus Conrado do Amaral Gurgel. With the proposal to produce 100% domestic vehicles, the entrepreneur set up in 1969, in Avenida Cursino in São Paulo factory cars that bore his name (moved its headquarters to Rio Claro, 1975). The automaker produced approximately 30,000 vehicles genuinely Brazilian during his 27 years of existence.Trademark registration of Gurgel found itself expired at INPI since 2003. In 2004, entrepreneur Emilio Paulo Freire Lemos, for R$ 850.00, registry the brand Gurgel and the old logo. The family of Gurgel was not consulted and decided to file a lawsuit against the businessman.


The Gurgel was founded in September 1, 1969 by the late mechanical engineer and electrician João Augusto Conrado do Amaral Gurgel, who always dreamed of the car genuinely "brasileiro". Gurgel began producing karts and mini-cars for children in the early '60s, when he was a company of light. The first car model was buggy Ipanemanota 2 and used Volkswagen engine.

70's Good affairsEdit

The brand saw that Ipanema was used in hostile terrain and it pointed the direction the company should take. It, stood the Xavante XT 1972 already plasteel chassis and suspension developed by João Gurgel and that was the first car factory tested by the military, but after the Xavante XTC 1974, a Jeep bigger and square and in the same year launch X-12 Xavante (later to be only X-12).

Soon, Gurgel Xavante X12 X-12 Xavante began the relative success of the brand. This was the main product throughout evolution and the existence of the factory. This Jeep followed the trend of the buggies his time and had a chassis as differential characteristics made of plasteel (design patented by Gurgel since the beginning of its implementation, which was a union of steel and plastic, which allied high resistance to twisting and warping difficult ) a body of fiber reinforced plastic-glass (PRF) and selectraction.

The Xavante just pleased the public, leaving the traditional conception of the savages, and the Brazilian Army, which made big order - a military version was produced especially for this purpose, which gave impetus to the production. The model X12, was a civilian version of the military jeep. It should be remembered that the success of the vehicles and the brand took the fact that there is competition in the market to match, because Brazil had restricted the importation of motor vehicles.

Market existed Toyota Bandeirante (Brazilian version of the Land Cruiser with Mercedes diesel motor) and Jeep Willys (later Ford). These vehicles were equipped with 4x4 and had performance far superior to Gurgel in off road use (which was only presented with rear wheel drive), but they were very expensive and had high maintenance costs and consumption.

Moving to Rio ClaroEdit

In search of more physical space for the production of its vehicles, the company purchased land in Rio Claro, in July 1973. The opening of the plant was in May 1975, with production starting simultaneously.

At the same time that the plant was built, the Gurgel Itaipu had the E150, a pioneering project electric car.In 1976 came the Xavante X12 TR, hardtop, with the chassis plasteel and a factory warranty unprecedented 100,000 kilometers.

Between 1977 and 1978, Gurgel was the first exporter in special vehicle category and second in production and sales. About 25% of production was still out of Brazil. Were manufactured 10 cars per day, and the X12's main product assembly line.The business unit was Gurgel Trade Center, a major avenue in Sao Paulo. There was an executive and a large exhibition hall, and a center of technical support to resellers.

In 1979, the entire product line was shown at the Geneva Auto Show, where the Jeep Brazilian had good reception. Later that year the van was launched X15 and X20.

The Brazilian Army was its main customer, who bought mainly X12 and X15. Some X20 units were also sold.

The Electric CarsEdit

On June 24, 1980 to cast its cornerstone Gurgel factory electric vehicles (a new building in the same factory in Rio Claro). The design of these vehicles began with the TU (just a demonstration vehicle without motor). Next, the brand launched (in 1981), in fact, a vehicle in series: the Itaipu E150. Soon after the minivan appeared E400, which was sold to state-owned companies. However, the models did not prosper because they have high cost of batteries and little autonomy; soon Gurgel discontinued production of its electric vehicles.

The "multinational" factoryEdit

The approximately 4000 cars exported to more than 40 countries have made the company become multinational. But John loved Gurgel say that their brand was not multinational, but "muitonational": capital was 100% Brazilian.

The factory becomes bigEdit

The company grew brave. Its factory, 360 000 and 15 000 m³ of building area, had 272 employees, including technicians and engineers. All had medical care and transportation. Second only in number of employees for the Puma when it came to small fabricators.

In 1980 the line was composed of 10 models. All could be supplied with gasoline or alcohol, although later the engineer Gurgel fight much with vegetable fuel. Later that year, was tested - after five years of studies - one more electric traction vehicle, the Itaipu E400 . This truck was sold in 1981 only to companies that undertook to report the problems and difficulties encountered. After the van version, would be cast truck models, single or double cabins, and in 1983 the Itaipu E400 for passengers. Entretando, the batteries that used to take up to 10 hours to load, and high weight, did not allow a satisfactory autonomy. Later, with the same body, launched a model with "air" Volkswagen engined, called G800 in 1982.

In 1984, Gurgel launched its largest car throughout its history: the jeep Carajás, which was the first front-engined. And still offered TTS stands for Tork Tube System, which took power from the engine / clutch (front) to your gearbox (rear). However, TTS had some negatives, such as the delay of the drive clutch (due to the large inertia of the axis) forcing the driver to change gears with a longer time interval between the release and engagement, especially between 2nd and 3rd gear.

Other models were the new X12 TR (hardtop and cheaper version of the X12), X12 RM (in various configurations), the X12 M (the exclusive use of the Armed Forces of Brazil), the X15 TR, the G15 L, XEF, each with its specific accessories.

In 1988, as the X12 1989 model was renamed Tocantins, accompanied by slight aesthetic reform and suspension.

Great leap of the company: the  BR-800Edit

Besides utilities, Gurgel dreamed of an economy car, cheap and 100% for the Brazilian urban centers. On September 7, 1987nota 6 was presented the prototype 280M, Scene result of the project, an acronym for "national economy car", one minicar designed to be the cheapest in the country. The engines were two cylinder horizontally opposed, 650 or 800 cc, water cooled, as in certain Japanese cars. The power would be 26 or 32 hp depending on the version. Prototype it came to BR-800, officially launched in 1988. The goal of designing a car with the final price of $ 3000 did not materialize, but thanks to a tax benefit of the Brazilian government (which gave the vehicle the right to pay only 5% (IPI), while the other cars paid 25% or more depending on engine capacity), the car was sold at an average price of $ 7000 - about 30% cheaper than the compact of transnational automakers in Brazil. Initially, the only way to purchase was the acquisition of shares of Gurgel Motors S / A, which had a membership of 8,000 people. Under a campaign

                 "If Henry Ford invite him to be your partner, would you not accept? "

, Sold 10,000 stock lots. Each buyer paid the $ 7,000 for the car and about $ 1,500 for the shares, which was a good deal for many - in late 1989 had a premium of 100% over the 1,000 units already produced. In 1991, Gurgel had a test fleet of 5,000 BR-800 in the hands of its partners. This volume represented the largest test fleet of the world.

Factory in the Ceará that never left the drawing boardEdit

The 1990 is showing promise for Gurgel, so she threw the Motomachine. Initially, only shareholders could buy the car. And in this same year, the BR-800 would be sold without the compulsory package of shares of the company: anyone could buy the vehicle.

The new government of Brazil, President Fernando Collor de Melo, took measures that harmed Gurgel. The first one was exempt all cars with engines smaller than 1000cm ³ of IPI - which led the major foreign automakers operating in the country to launch almost instantly cars priced lower than those of BR-800, but with more features. A good example is the Uno Mille. Another measure of the Collor government was free vehicle imports. Even paying aliquot of 85%, the Lada Niva was cheaper than jeeps produced by Gurgel. In 1991, the state banks Banespa and BEC granted new loans (unsecured) to Gurgel. At this time, the pressures on the company only increased. If before this step only factory totally national cars have not bothered, it was restricted to a successful line of Jeeps and SUVs, this line plus a car even without economic and urban economies of scale and therefore without competitive prices, now she threatened appear and grow.

In 1992, trying to react to the market, the brand launched the Supermini with a design and finish more balanced than its predecessor, BR-800. Even after four years of the launch of the share of Gurgel, some shareholders who have not received the BR-800 Supermini were receiving, as compensation for the late delivery of the first.

Thinking ahead, the engineer Gurgel decided to make a new project, called Delta, which would be a new popular car low cost which would use the same engine Enertron and cost between $ 4000 and $ 6000, but was never manufactured in series (only very few prototypes were manufactured). The Gurgel came to acquire some of the machine tools that have just not being used. Ciro Gomes, at the time governor of Ceará, has not honored a commitment to "unconditional support" (or protocol actions) to the Delta Project. This project consisted of the installation of a factory in Fortaleza for the production of the motor vehicle, which act in conjunction with the Rio Claro unit, responsible for the production of car bodies.

The company had hit its sales record when sold 3,746 cars in 1991, but fell to 1,671 in 1992 due to strike Brazilian customs officials in 1991, which prevented the arrival of components from Argentina. The drop in production rate broke the company's cash flow and debt accrued. The production of X12 (single utility remnant from the opening of imports in Brazil) drastically reduced due to the relationship between Volkswagen and Gurgel have shaken: the 181, similar to the X12, was discontinued because the second sold so well that stole the first space . The brand also prioritized the manufacture of their popular cars (BR-800 and Supermini).

Therefore, without government support, the Gurgel filed for bankruptcy in June 1993. In a last attempt to save the factory, in 1994, a request was made to the federal government for a loan of $ 20 million to the company, but this was denied, and the factory was declared bankrupt in 1994.

Last years activeEdit

Amid the declaration of bankrupt government, the company was able to turn to bankruptcy and was active until September 1996. His latest projects are: Supermini 1995 - a version with rear Supermini straighter than before and would be released in the same year; Motomachine - one urban minicar designed as a means of Transport, the latest versions of Tocantins (which lasted from 1992 to 1995) - with a slight change in the front grille and Carajás (without any relevant change) and Motofour - concept similar to Motomachine - that had a single copy made. During this period, the brand has produced over 130 vehicles.

Depredation in the factory over the years and selling of the sameEdit

Since the end of the company's plant in Rio Claro was in the hands of an office in São Paulo. And since 2001 justice had been trying to sell the factory, he faced many thefts of car parts still unfinished: at least 30 police reports were done.

After several attempts to sell the factory grounds, and their abandoned vehicles, she just was auctioned in 2007 for almost £ 16 million. The money was used as payment for labor debts, which reached almost U.S. $ 20 million. The Gurgel left a trail of R $ 280 million in debt.


Registration of the Gurgel Trademark found itself expired at INPI since 2003. In 2004, entrepreneur Emilio Paulo Freire Lemos brand acquired for R $ 850.00. The family Gurgel was not consulted and so decided to file a lawsuit against him. That same year Emilio Lemos Freire launched Gurgel TA-01, a tricycle agricultural diesel powered and has little in common with the old brand Gurgel.

Also happened to be produced forklift FD-30 CT.In addition, she scooped six bodies (BR-800, Carajás, Itaipu, Supermini, X12 and X15) that were in the old factory as a project for future reissues will be made. The brand plans to relaunch the Tocantins (which is a prototype), despite the project being stranded since 2007.

List of models produced - Gurgel Motors S / A Edit

Cars produced in seriesEdit






QT (better known as Ipanema)

Itaipu E150

Itaipu E400

Itaipu E500









BR-VanScene (or 280)







List of models produced - Gurgel Motores do Brasil Edit

Agricultural Tractors - current Edit


Discontinued Edit


Prototypes Edit


Forklifts - current Edit




MW 30


"Gurgel, um brasileiro de fibra," Lelis Caldeira, publisher Lute. (In Portuguese)


2004 "Sonhos Enferrujam Gurgel e o carro do Brasil" - Dirigido e produzido por alunos do curso de jornalismo da Universidade de São Paulo. (In Portuguese)


  • It began producing their vehicles with only 4 employees and $ 10,000 in capital. Due to export your company would do with the success of the products, he always said that his factory was not a multinational company, but "muitonacional". The capital was 100% Brazilian.
  • In versions Ipanema, Inlet, Augusta and Xavante. Gurgel baptized many of their cars with names very Brazilian,  honoring  Indian Brazilian  tribes
  • This was a system driven by levers next to the parking brake, to stop one of the rear wheels. Represented a simple and inexpensive but useful alternative to a locking differential. Was very helpful in puddles because ↑, versions Ipanema, Inlet, Augusta and Xavante. Gurgel baptized many of their cars with names very Brazilian, Indian Brazilian honoring astribos
  • It is said that, in the factory, there was a baseball bat for visitors chattering strong on the body to test the resistance. No kneading, but logically the test was uncommon done before receiving the car paint.
  • This was a system driven by levers next to the parking brake, to stop one of the rear wheels. Represented a simple and inexpensive but useful alternative to a locking differential. Was very helpful in puddles because braking of the wheels were turning in false - characteristic of all differential - the force was transmitted to the other, facilitating the exit of clay. With this system the car was lighter and more economical than if it had four wheel drive and efficiency was almost as good as, but not replace it.
  • The alcohol was subsidized by the government, which made the final price to the consumer lower than gasoline. This was the only way to stimulate the use of a fuel that, at the lower calorific value, resulting in a consumption about 30% higher. The engineer thought it would be more consistent to use this land to grow food for the population than to power vehicles. Later he would put an end to the versions in the alcohol brand.
  • According to the businessman, the "Brazilian technological independence day"

External LinksEdit

[1] Site Oficial da Gurgel Motores do Brasil (In Portuguese)

[2] Matéria do Best Cars Web Site (In Portuguese)

[3] Quatro Rodas - Gurgel Carajás (In Portuguese)

[4] Quatro Rodas - Gurgel Itaipu (In Portuguese)

[5] Quatro Rodas - Gurgel Supermini (In Portuguese)

[6] Quatro Rodas - Gurgel X-12 (In Portuguese)

[7] Site Gurgel 800 (In Portuguese)

[8] Site Gurgel Guerreiro(In Portuguese)

[9] Site Clube Gurgel Campinas (In Portuguese)

[10] Site Autoclassic (In Portuguese)

[11] Acessórios Gurgel (In Portuguese)

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