DKW-Vemag Candango

You may recognize this as the DKW Munga, and yes—it is. Mostly.

Its name is intended to honour the name for migrant workers who built Brasília, the futuristic city designed to be the administrative capital of Brazil. Planned by Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer in 1956 and backed up by the expansive landscape designs of Roberto Burl Marx, its incredible architecture has earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.

While it may look like the setting for a Sid Mead illustration, Brasília's poor infrastructure for pedestrians and massive spaces between major centres—Hotel Sector, Embassy Sector, etc.—are best-visited by car. Ironic, then, as the new-for-1958 Candango four-wheel-drive's performance was so poor on asphalt that many owners simply disconnected the driveshaft to the rear wheels.

Like the military versions of the Volkswagen Beetle, the Candango had somewhat pedestrian origins. Although Munga stood for Mehrzweck UNiversal Geländewagen mit Allradantrieb, or the much more catchy, "multi-purpose universal cross-country car with all-wheel drive," it featured a weedy two-stroke, 900cc 3-cylinder engine borrowed from the DKW 3=6 sedan. A four-speed transmission and a top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph) were the other headline statistics. In 1961, the buggy's motor was given a bump to an 1,000cc.

Often spotted in period photos guarding the Berlin Wall in West Germany and on construction sites in Brazil, the Munga and Candango were intended from the outset as hard-working military and general service vehicles. But as countries like the Netherlands started to press the design into military service—Brazil's instead went for the Willys Jeep—the Munga's design was found to be too compromised for a front-line role.

Solution? Two-wheel-drive, fun pastel colours for the civilian versions, and promoting accessory makers to produce parts for the Candango that included steel hard tops and Fiat Jolly-like beach-going versions. While the steel hard top makes it look like a crashed Jeep Wagoneer, the beach version was eventually added to the official order book and remains one of the most rare versions of the car, the Praiano. (It's the lead photo to this article.)

Even though it was in some ways the official car of Brazil's most modern city, without a lucrative military contract it lasted just five years, with the final Candango rolling off the assembly line in 1963 after 5600 or so were built.