FEI X-3

fei-x3

It's not often that I'm surprised by a vehicle. I was planning on writing about American-Brazilian trucks—stay tuned—but after clicking around a bunch of car blogs written in Portuguese I stumbled upon this fantastic machine. 

"Trucks can wait," I said to myself. And so you get to read about this government-funded monster, an enthusiast vehicle so perfect in every way it's difficult to see how it could be improved. 

(Of course, there's a dose of hyperbole in that last statement.)

At this low angle you're able to see a bit of the car's smooth underside.

At this low angle you're able to see a bit of the car's smooth underside.

I quite like the vehicles they come up with in South America. A strange mix of government protectionism, enthusiasm for cars, rougher road conditions, and a few other factors contribute to some strange-to-us home brewed machines.

Engineer Rigoberto Soler, who worked on the Brasinca Uirapuru—a car copied by Jensen to make the Interceptor—found himself teaching mechanical engineering at what's now known as Fundação Educacional Inaciana.

They're a renowned automotive mechanical engineering schools in Brazil. Soler was put in charge of the research and experimental vehicle program. As part of the curriculum, his students created in 1968 a semi-amphibious vehicle. In 1969, they made a hovercraft.

But in 1970, they embarked on their third—and most ambitious project to date—a Brazilian sports car called X-3.

fei-x3

With a tubular steel frame, metal and fiberglass construction, and a body shape apparently honed by altering a scale model in wind tunnel, the X-3 resembled a 1970s interpretation of a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing.

That's probably the best performance car reference point, actually. The engine was a 5.2-litre V8 from a Dodge Dart, the doors were gullwing, and—get this—the underside was reportedly shaped to give ground effects for more downforce.

Did I mention it has an airbrake, too, like pretty much every modern hyper car?

fei-x3

Sadly, there were a few limitations. The front suspension and steering rack came from a Dodge Dart (making this the second Car of the Day with Dart roots), four-speed Charger manual transmission, and various other mechanical pieces were cobbled together from different vehicles.

In Brazil, the car was a huge auto show success, but eventually put into storage and neglected. It's since been restored in a green and gold colour scheme, ready to cruise alongside the other classic Brazilian sports cars.

But that's a story for another day…

Sources / Recommended Reading