Willys do Brazil and Industrias Kaiser Argentina


When Kaiser - Willys left the passenger auto business in the Unites States in 1955, they looked for another country to build cars in. A meeting in 1955 with Argentinian Dictator Juan Peron led to the building of a large factory in Cordoba, Argentina to construct the Kaiser Carabela .

Kaiser also built the Willys Aero 2600 and Rural trucks based on the American Jeep line of vehicles in Brazil.


IKA built the Carabela in Argentina from 1958 to 1962 and about 3,000 cars were built. All of the cars used heavy duty springs and brakes borrowed from the Willys vehicles to cope with the bad roads. The cars were fitted with leather upholstery. The dash stampings were still in English, but the knobs were in Spanish and the speedometer was recalibrated to reflect kilometers. Single tone paint jobs were the rule, but some two-toned cars were built. No Carabela was equipped with a supercharger or automatic transmission. Prices for a Carabela averaged 670.500 pesos, or about $3800 in 1958 dollars, quite a bit for a relatively poor nation, but still much less than $10,000 for a black market Chevrolet.

Kaiser built the Carabela in a partnership with local investors. James McCloud was the Vice President and General Manager of operations and was assisted by K. J. Flood. George Gotschall was the factory manager. The factory was also used to fabricate steel plate, beams and girders for local construction projects.

IKA also built the Torino, a vehicle that resembles a '65 Rambler American, and these cars used the 230 cubic inch overhead valve Jeep based engine. Also constructed was the Bergantin and the Renault Dauphine as IKA had a financial interest in Renault in Argentina. Most parts found today from IKA have the IKA/Renault stamp on the packaging.

In 1962 Kaiser stopped building the Carabela and concentrated on the Bergantin and the Jeep. Renault took over much of the auto manufacturing in 1976.

Few Carabelas survive today, and those that are roadworthy command about $5000US if you wanted to purchase one. Add to that about $2000 to import and you will definitely have a unique automobile as there are only 4 in the United States today.


When Kaiser - Willys decided to build vehicles in Argentina in conjunction with local investors, the Willys arm of the business had been operating profitably in Brazil for a while. Operating under the direction of Hickman Price , Willys was producing the 2600 , Rural, Pickups and the Jeep.

The 2600 was built until about 1975 in Brazil , changing little over the years. A redesigned grille and tail light treatment was followed by an updated 161 cubic inch F head engine using twin carburetors. Interiors were updated and leather was an available option. In 1966, the Itamaraty was introduced as an upscale version of the 2600, with such amenities as a leather interior and fancy wheels.

Willys also built, under license from Renault, the Gordini, Dauphine and the 1093, a slightly sportier version of the Gordini. Willys even dabbled in the sports car market, building the Interlagos , a car based on an Alfa Romeo design.

Today, many Willys products can still be found on the roads of Brazil. An Aero 2600 can be purchased for about $2000US, but it would cost almost as much to import.

The factory was constructed using about 50% local material. Once the vehicles began rolling down the assembly line , different models were introduced. The station wagon , also known as the Rural, was an instant hit with it's rugged construction. This was closely followed by the Aero, also assembled in the same factory.

Here's a photo gallery of some Willys products offered in Brazil:

1960 Aero Willys

1961 Renault Dauphine , built under license by Willys for Renault.

1963 Aero Willys This marked a change in the basic body style that would stay with the Aero until 1972, when Willys sold their Barzilian operations to Ford.

1966 Aero Willys

1967 Aero Willys Here's an interior shot of the dash. Also, a photo of the rear seat in the 2600 taken with what is abviously a wide angle lens to make the seat seem larger.

You can get more information about Kaisers and Frazers and see some other member's pages by visiting the Kaiser-Frazer Owners Club home page located at: KF HOME

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This Page Last Updated on: August 9, 1945
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