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Big Dad and the VW SP2

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

In the early 1970’s, my grandfather, Big Dad as we called him, was working in Brazil. He ran across the coolest car he had ever seen sitting in a Vokswagen showroom.

The car was a 1974 Volkswagen SP2. This car didn’t look like any VW he had seen before. He discovered the car was made by Volkswagen of Brazil as a local market car only. This was due to an embargo that wouldn’t allow the import of the Karma Ghia. The car was equipped with a VW 1700cc pancake engine in the back and shared many mechanical aspects of 1970’s VWs. What made it different was that this VW was a 2-seater with sports car styling. Big Dad bought the car from the dealership and arranged to have it shipped back to his home in Los Angeles.

The car didn’t have the correct 5-mph bumpers and other DOT requirements that cars should have in the US, but things were a little more relaxed at US Customs back then and Big Dad knew some of the right people to get this car imported into the US. This was the first SP2 imported into the US, and the only one in the country for many years.

Big Dad loved this little Volkswagen and drove it as far as Minnesota on road trips. I remember being at his house as a kid and thinking it was the coolest car I had ever seen.. I couldn’t get over just how small the car was compared to modern cars of the 1980’s. (Think how big a 80’s Cadillac is!)

The car got lots of attention whenever Big Dad drove it and he even allowed a company to take molds of the car so they could produce a kit car based on it. (They never went into production)

Big Dad knew my love for the car and knew that I would cherish and hold onto it so it could stay in the family. As he got older and it got harder for him to get in and out of the car, he gave it to me.

In 2009 I had the SP2 shipped from California to my home Georgia. Big Dad had packed the car with tons of parts and even a spare engine!

That drive home from picking up the car from the truck, was the first time I ever got to drive the car. It was exciting and terrifying all at the same time.

This is a pic of the car shortly after I got it in Georgia.

Since I’ve owned the car, I have done what was needed to keep it up and enhance it a little. The seats got re-upholstered and the car finally received a fresh paint job to fix a primer spot where Big Dad had gently backed into a tree. The engine has been replaced by something more fun. A 2054cc power plant was installed with some big carburetors which almost doubled the horsepower. (it had only 75hp when it left VW) I also got some 70’s style wheels for it and lowered it a little. Exactly how Big Dad would have wanted it.

There are now less than 15 SP2 in the US as they are much easier to import once they are 25-years old. They only built just over 10,000 between the years of 1972 and 1976 so they are rare even in Brazil.

Today I love taking the car to local VW shows and big shows around the Atlanta area like Caffeine and Octane. The car always draws a crowd and I love telling the story of how Big Dad found the car and how it ended up with me.

There is also a video about the car that you might enjoy: YouTube

If you love the SP2 as much as we do, you can represent by wearing a SP2 shirt from our shop page:

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