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Monday, December 5, 2022

The FEI X-3 shooting-brake sports car featured with Dodge V8

ONE-OFF Maybe once upon a time it crossed our minds, did religious leaders or priests ever get involved or even drown in the excitement of the world's automotive. In fact, there are many examples and we had already discussed one of them here, namely Father Alfred A. Juliano, a Catholic priest whose designed and built a weird-shaped concept car named the Aurora Safety Car back in the mid-1950s.
The 1972 FEI X-3 Lavinia shooting-brake sports car concept featured with Dodge V8 engine designed and built by Rigoberto Soler and his FEI's student team. (Picture from: AutoEntusiastasClassic)
Roberto Sabóia de
Medeiros (1905-1955).
(Picture from: AllPar)
Well now there's one more, a Jesuit priest and visionary Roberto Sabóia de Medeiros realized that Brazil could no longer depend on just being an agrarian country after World War II ended, and had to pave the way to become an industrialized country. For the such reason, he initiated the Fundação de Ciências Aplicadas (FCA) or in English, the Foundation of Applied Sciences in 1945, to aid in Brazil's industrialization; two years later, the foundation opened its Faculdade de Engenharia Industrial (FEI) or Faculty of Industrial Engineering in São Paulo.
The Brasinca 4500GT sports car built by Rigoberto Soler during 1964 to 1966 as many as 77 units, is powered by a six-cylinder Chevrolet engine. (Picture from: AutoEntusiastasClassic)
Ten years later, spurred by Brazilian President Juscelino Kubitschek, Brazil's industrial revolution gained speed, especially in São Paulo, with investments by numerous foreign automotive industries such International Harvester, Simca, Willys Overland, and General Motors. FEI opened a  new campus in Sao Bernardo do Campo, thanks to a land donation by Lavinia Gomes, Mayor Lauro Gomes' wife.
The 1972 FEI X-3 shooting-brake sports car concept (on the left) posed along with its predecessor 1968 FEI X-1 (on the right). (Picture from: AutoEntusiastasClassic)
In 1963, one key professor named Rigoberto Soler was knows as a former official of ENASA (Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones), which made trucks in the '50s for Francoist Spain and had built the Pegaso sports car, led by a former Alfa Romeo technical director Wilfredo Ricart. Previously during 1964 to 1966, Soler had designed and built a sports car with a six-cylinder Chevrolet engine named the Brasinca 4200 GT as many as 77 units. 
Mockup of the FEI X-2 hovercraft, for use in rivers, swamps and wetlands; the project was not fully completed, having reached the testing phase with a wooden air-sliding platform, a propeller and no cabin. (Picture from: LexisCarBrasil)
Then within FEI, Soler led the Department of Studies and Research Vehicles. Their first car called the FEI X-1, was a unique two-seater car based on the mechanicals of the Renault Gordini featured with hovercraft-fan at rear, and was first shown in 1968. This car is the forerunner of the FEI X-2 model which was made as a real hovercraft which move without contact with the ground supported by air pockets.
FEI's classroom with the X-3 side view (notice the curved floor), and Professor Soler, standing beside the desk. (Picture from: AutoEntusiastasClassic)
Rigoberto Soler.
(Picture from: AllPar)
In 1972, Soler instructed his students to work on a unique-shaped sports car in general called as the shooting brake, the FEI X-3 'Lavinia' (as tribute to the FEI benefactor), which would be an evolution of the 4200 GT. For your info, the shooting-brake is a type of car design that usually comes with one door on each side, and a little boxy shaped at the rear, where it might have one or two-opened doors. He specified the use of a tubular steel frame and air brake, a rectangular flap embedded in the rear of the vehicle. The students were divided into two groups, one responsible for manufacturing the chassis and other bodywork.
Sketches of what would become the FEI X-3, made by Rigoberto Soler. (Picture from: AutoEntusiastasClassic)
Initially, for this concept car, Soler gave his students freedom to relate to the shape, dimensions, and components that will be used to build it as well. So this car then took its dimensions idea by taking a reference to the use of the Ford 292-cubic-inch V8 engined model. And the most of the components would be from the Dodge Dart. While the front suspension was a Torsion Aire, with torsion bars; though the Chrysler rear axle was supported by coil springs, more suitable for a sports car. Fourteen-inch magnesium wheels were used; the Gemmer steering box was the same as the Dart's but with its 24:1 reduction ratio changed to 15:1 to be more sensitive to high-speed maneuvers.
The FEI X-3 chassis under construction featured with Ford front-engined. (Picture from: AutoEntusiastasClassic)
The 318 V8 engine was the LA type cast in Brazil, the one used in Dart (198 bhp), and was later replaced by one from the Charger R/T (sports version of the Brazilian Dart) with a higher compression ratio and dual exhaust system for 215 horsepower. The original Dart transmission, with only three gears, was also replaced by the Brazilian Charger R/T's four speed. The transmission was modified due to the smaller wheelbase, and a new differential ratio was used as the X-3 would be lighter and more aerodynamic than the Dart. The drum front brakes were also replaced with discs.
The first version of the FEI X-3 finished with yellow paintwork, and the airbrake open. (Picture from: AutoEntusiastasClassic)
The body construction was made using a hammer form, just like Italian car makers. The X-3 was completely shaped by hand from aluminum, with a strong roll cage to protect the occupants, gull-wing doors, monolithic aluminum front end, two rear gas tanks (90-liter/24-gallon capacity), side exhausts, and external air brakes. The tail lights, as in current cars, stayed in the roof columns. The X-3 had two spare tires and a good luggage space in the trunk. Interestingly, the windshield was from a Ford Galaxie.
The FEI X-3 while sat on display at the 2004 São Paulo Motor Show. (Picture from: AutoEntusiastasClassic)
Inside the sports car there are leather-covered reclining seats, air conditioning, instrument panel on the center console, three-spoke aluminum steering wheel, a kind multipurpose briefcase fuctioned as glove box. Students also want to install an eight-millimeter camera inside the car to record all activities related to car's tests, practice or races. 
The FEI X-3's engine set back from the axle, with the "shaker hood" cover on display. (Picture from: AutoEntusiastasClassic)
After completion, the X-3 measures 4.3 meters long, 1.8 meters wide and 1.1 meters high. It had a ground clearance of 0.18 meters and weighed 1100 kg, with a very low drag coefficient of 0.32, and originally painted in yellow.
The FEI X-3's cabin featured with the leather-covered reclining seats, air conditioning, instrument panel on the center console, three-spoke aluminum steering wheel, a kind multipurpose briefcase fuctioned as glove box. (Picture from: AutoEntusiastasClassic)
It was built by the team of Ricardo Okubo, Ademir Fornasaro, Carlos Augusto Scarpelli, Flávio Vicenzetto, Gilberto Luz Pereira, A. Heymann, R. Milk, Joseph Pompeo Giannocoro, Barretti Roberto, Roberto Julio Asam, and Rudolph Herbert Meyer. The team managed to get the job done on time until the X3 Lavinia finally made it on display and debuted at the 1972 São Paulo Auto Show.
The FEI X-3' final version was painted in green and gold metallic, and is featured with a such unique gull-wing doors. (Picture from: AutoEntusiastasClassic)
But the effort was not wasted, at the expo the car was finished in green and gold metallic, became one of the stars of the event, winning the admiration of then-President of Brazil General Emilio Medici Garrastazu. Currently the FEI X-3 Lavinia, restored by the FEI, and is still part of the college's collection and is displayed at various events on the history of Brazilian automobiles.  *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | ALLPAR | AUTOENTUSIASTASCLASSIC | HOTCARS | HISCIENCIA ]
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