On September 5, 1956, the Romi-Isetta in Brazil. Exactly 65 years ago, the country received an urban vehicle of compact size, which was born in Europe in the late 1940s. Around here, it was the first series-production car.
Its manufacture was in charge of Indústrias Romi, famous for the production of tractors, in Santa Bárbara D’Oeste (SP). The model was thus made in the country until 1961. In total, around 3,000 units won the Brazilian streets over the five years of production.
At just 2.28 meters long and 1.38 m wide, the cart conquered, mainly, the artistic class. Actresses Eva Wilma and Dercy Gonçalves, as well as actor John Herbert, participated in campaigns for the single, which had its charm.
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The Romi-Isetta made in Brazil had an aviation concept and style to spare. Assembled with tubular chassis and front axle larger than the rear, it had front wheels with independent springs. The original set was 10 inches long. In this sense, it “cut a bend” in the irregular Brazilian asphalt.
Among the features, a highlight was the (single) front door that – inspired by cargo planes – when it was opened, took the steering column with it. Inside, just a seat for two adults and one child. In fact, depending on the height of the occupants, hitting your head on the ceiling was normal.
At first, the Romi-Isetta equipped with a two-stroke two-cylinder engine of 236 cm³ and 9.5 hp of power. The top speed reached 85 km/h with the support of the four-speed gearbox. As early as 1959, the engine changed. Entered the BMW four-stroke single-cylinder engine – basically a motorcycle engine. It had 298 displacements and 13 hp.
With this set, it was able to reach the same 85 km/h. However, the transmission remained, as did the rear-wheel drive, and the fuel tank of just 13 liters.
It was in 1955 that Carlos Chiti and his partner, Américo Emílio Romi, arrived in Turin (Italy) to negotiate the national production of Iso Isetta with their creator. After a long negotiation, the license to manufacture the cart in Brazil was finally released.
The installation work for the plant and the relationship with suppliers dragged on for a year. Until, in 1956, everything was ready to manufacture the Romi-Isetta, whose bodies came from Tecnogeral, a company from São Paulo. The nationalization index thus reached 72%. Its launch, on September 5, 1956, stopped in São Paulo, with a caravan and even a parade at the Estádio do Pacaembu.
However, after so much success, Romi-Isetta found itself in the middle of a controversy. After all, was it considered an automobile or not? According to Claudio Romi, grandson of Américo Emílio Romi and director of the Brazilian Federation of Classic Vehicles (FBVA), yes.