The Griffon Story

The Griffon (c/o National Cars Archive)

The Griffon was a Brasilian sports car built at the School of Engineering of São Carlos, Usp, by two former students – Professor Dawilson Lucato and engineer Mario Belatto Jr.. The project was developed, from 1974, beginning as practical school work; resulting in the creation of two prototypes. The effort, however, took almost seven years to complete. 

The Aircraft Laboratory of the Department of Mechanical Engineering of EESC was involved from the beginning of the process, when the basic characteristics of the vehicle were defined. The use of aeronautical concepts in its design, aerodynamic behavior and ergonomics shown throughout.

The prototypes used the platform of the Volkswagen Brasília 1600, but a custom chassis was also designed, in parallel, to receive various engines, with a transverse mid-engine layout. The result was a vehicle with a reduced drag coefficient (Cx 0.35), although with mild performance, given the mechanics used. 

The Griffon (c/o National Cars Archive)

Its fiberglass reinforced plastic body had great access to the mechanicals and was very well finished internally and externally. It had efficient ventilation and soundproofing systems, windshield wipers and concealable headlights, internal control mirrors, electric windows and a leather interior.

Exhibited at the Sao Paolo Motor Show in 1981, design and tooling were put up for sale the following year, without finding a buyer. 

The Cheda, also designed by Mario Belatto

As a professional, Mario participated in the design of other vehicles, such as the Buggy, Cheda, and Ventura, until opening his own factory, in the 90's, in São José do Rio Preto (SP), where he planned to put Griffon into production. 

This was to be a new version with a mid-engine configuration using Chevrolet Monza running gear. His untimely death in 1996, at the age of 42, unfortunately ended the project.


The Griffon (2 views)

The Griffon, interior


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