1978 Renha Formigao touted as ‘original Cybertruck’ as images emerge

  • The Tesla Cybertruck has a distinctive – and divisive – shape
  • Recently emerged photos of the 1978 Renha Formigao show a similar design
  • The Renha Formigao’s original designer thinks the Cybertruck’s design is ‘really cool’

Published on Jun 04, 2024 at 11:22 AM (UTC+4)
by Claire Reid

Last updated on Jun 04, 2024 at 4:17 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

While you may never have heard of the 1978 Renha Formigao, its shape might look a little familiar. 

Because decades before the first Cybertruck rolled off Tesla production lines, the Renha Formigao sported very similar angular bodywork. 

The Cybertruck has proved to be a bit divisive when it comes to its design, with some folks loving its clean lines and boxy shape and others being altogether less keen.

READ MORE! Buying the Tesla Cybertruck when it first came out

Whichever camp you’re in, you have to admit that some owners have made the EVs look pretty awesome, like the man who turned his into a giant mirror, or rapper Trae tha Truth who picked out a sleek-looking white and maroon wrap for his to match with his Mercedes-Maybach GLS and a S-Class.

Oh, and let’s not forget the man who hand-crafted himself a functioning ‘Cybertruck’ from wood

But 40 years before any of those cars existed, the 1978 Renha Formigao was out there turning heads (and stomachs, depending on how you feel about the design) on the roads of Brazil.

A fiberglass body built on a Volkswagen chassis, the Renha Formigao didn’t quite capture the world’s imagination like the Cybertruck has and, as it was built over the body of a VW Beetle, it’s fair to say it didn’t break any ground on the engineering front, either. 

Nonetheless, it’s hard to deny that it has a pretty strong resemblance to a 2019 Cybertruck. 

In an interview with UOL, the Renha Formigao designer Paulo Sergio Renha explained the vision behind the car. 

“At the time, I wanted to launch a utility vehicle with a bold look and simple mechanics. We wanted something a bit futuristic, inspired by Italian sports cars of the time, like the Lamborghini Countach, with straighter lines,” he said. 

“We were an official Volkswagen manufacturer, with a factory warranty for all mechanical parts, including the Beetle’s 1,600 engine with a single carburetor, installed under the bed, which had a small projection to accommodate it. We sold more than 200 units, including vehicles for exportation.”

And, for what it’s worth, he believes the Cybertrucks’ similarities to his design are merely a ‘coincidence’. 

He said: “It’s really cool that the two look alike, but I don’t see plagiarism.”

So that’s settled then.

# Tags - Cars, Cybertruck


Claire Reid

Claire Reid is a journalist who hails from the UK but is now living in New Zealand. She began her career after graduating with a degree in Journalism from Liverpool John Moore’s University and has more than a decade of experience, writing for both local newspapers and national news sites. Across her career she's covered a wide variety of topics, including celebrity, cryptocurrency, politics, true crime and just about everything in between.