03.01.2005 fnm - alfa romeo's Brazilian connection 1950-1986

FNM were also interested in producing their own unique models. This resulted in the Onça, the unabashed Ford Mustang look-alike. The Onça resulted after Genaro “Rino” Malzoni, creator of the Brazilian GT Malzoni and Cougar, was invited by FNM to work on a sportscar project using the mechanicals of the FNM-2000. 

The Onça name refers to the largest wild cat in the Panthera family (Jaguar), and lives practically all over Brazil. By referring to the most feared wild animal in Brazil, the car had to live up to its name and came equipped with a tuned Duemila engine with 20 bhp extra, leather upholstery and a Walrod sports steering wheel.

Whereas the Onça’s heavy styling took most of its cues from the 1964 Mustang, it also had a hint of Bertone GT in the nose.

The Onça was hand-crafted and limited production only, with Rino producing the bodies in Matão city, Sao Paulo. However, the car’s production was to be brief, with production stopping the following year, and with less than ten examples ever being built it has remained a true rarity to this day.

A high performance version of the FNM-2000 modelo JK was also launched in 1966 as the FNM-2000 TIMB (Turismo Internacional Modelo Brasileiro).

In 1968, the majority of FNM’s shares were sold to Alfa Romeo for US$ 36 million. It was in this year when Alfa decided to modernise the FNM-2000 by increasing the cylinder capacity to 2.131 cc and facelift the nose. The car, which was by the time severely dated in all aspects, was marketed as the 2150.

The 2150 also marked the birth of another odd coupé. Called the Furia GT 2150 (see scrapbook for images), the coupé was designed by Brazilian designer Tony Bianco. The project was initiated by the FNM concessionaire in Sao Paulo, and a few examples were hand-built by the Caminhonauto coachworks. The car was presented at the 1972 Motor Show, and helped generate some interest in the ageing 2150 saloon.

By the early ‘70s, Fiat started to play an increasingly dominant role at the FNM factory. Alfa Romeo started assembling Fiat trucks at the FNM plant in around 1970, which at the time was producing about 3.000 trucks a year. In 1973 Alfa Romeo’s 43% shareholding in FNM was sold on to Fiat.

It was around this time also that Alfa Romeo decided to introduce a new car, as the FNM 2150 was hardly a product to be proud of.


Top: the Onça was FNM's first unique model, however took obvious styling cues from the Ford Mustang. Middle images: this is not a Mustang, this is the side view of the Onça! Below: Less than 10 examples were ever built over its 1 year production span. Here the car is presented with what one presumes is a stuffed Jaguar.

Top: the FNM 2150 was an evolution of the 2000 Berlina, featuring a new nose somewhat reminiscent of the Sunbeam Alpine. Middle: mild revisions for 1971 included a new-shape Alfa Romeo grille. Below: period press coverage from Auto Esporte.

Developing a new Brazilian car however had two restrictions. In the first instance, the obvious financial aspects associated with preparing a completely new model for local production, and secondly the fact that Brazil was showing signs of switching over from petrol to alcohol for fuel. 

This sudden interest in alcohol as a fuel had many reasons. The prime reasons focused on the oil crisis, and also the government’s will of positively influencing the country’s economy. Petrol had to be imported, whereas alcohol could be domestically manufactured from, amongst other crops, sugar beat.

Economically and environmentally, alcohol has proven to be a very good fuel. It burns far cleaner and cooler than petrol, and causes less engine vibration. Tests have proven that it extends engine life and delivers more horsepower. 

However, the new car which was being developed for Alfa Romeo Brazil was not foreseen with an alcohol engine.

Presented in March 1974 as the 2300, the new car dropped the FNM name for good, and was marketed with an Alfa Romeo badge. With a new body which closely resembled a stretched version of the Alfetta Berlina (although no dimensions were common), the 2300 also boasted a completely new interior.

Under the skin, the Brazilian-built Alfa still remained a glorified Duemila and did not stand up to the technical standards of the day. The engine was still the old iron-block, although had been bored out to 2.310 cc with a bore and stroke of 88 x 95 mm.

Brazil went ahead with the increase in its alcohol production, the government being technically supported in the automotive business by Fiat. When schemes were finally introduced to stimulate the sales of alcohol instead of petrol (lower prices, longer pump opening times, lower tax on alcohol-fuelled cars), a switch to producing alcohol powered-cars was the only means to save Alfa Romeo’s interests in Brazil.

Continued on Page 3 >

Page 2/3