The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents


José Cardoso Brito

Click on any image for a larger view - Much of the text has been extracted from José's own writings representing his journey    page added Jan 2019

José Brito is seen in his workshop with one of his models.

A museum photo from the Portuguese Museu Nacional dos Coaches shows one of his carriage models alongside the original from which his model was built.


We were quite pleased when we received photos and information from a man who specializes in the construction of models of vintage European and American horse-drawn carriages. José Cardoso Brito has had his models featured on display with the original coaches in Portugal’s Coach Museum. Over the past 20 years or so he has completed 15 models of significant royal, personal and mail carriages, with each improving on the previous in skill and detail. Though he claims to be an “amateur,” this is true only in the sense that he does not build the models to sell. He makes them simply for the love of recreating such fine original craftsmanship in miniature. About his work, Mr. Brito says the following:


“I am a big amateur in construction of coach miniatures in 1/10 scale. I had the great satisfaction of finding this magnificent Museum of World Craft Joe Martin Craft Museum, a wonder to look at. Many congratulations for your organization. I would like to show share of my works, made from the original carros (cars, coaches) that are in the national museum of the cars in Lisbon, Portugal. I usually make my own plans, taking many measurements and photos of the original detail to do these works. I also have a model coach made from the original plans of a Napoleonic state coach offered by the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild for a contest in the USA in the 1930’s. There are 15 miniatures of coaches that I have at the moment, it would be a great pleasure to be able to show them in your great museum, Foundation Joe Martin foundation.”
José Cardosa Brito

Before building model carriages, José Brito built wooden ship models. He found them to be hard to display and transport. While looking in a ship model catalog he found a kit for a Wells Fargo stagecoach, ordered it and built it. From then on his interests turned to coaches, and all his following models were built from scratch rather than from kits.

Mr. Brito’s models have been displayed in several museums and seen by many visitors.

José’s latest work completed mid year 2019, is this Panhard & Levassor automobile. Bought in Paris France in 1895 by the Count of Avilez, it was the first automobile that came to Portugal.
The Panhard & Levassor represents the beginning of a transition from horse drawn carriages to the automobile. This model is 1/8th scale and took José 10 months to complete.

Details of Mr. Brito’s coach models in order of construction

Coach 1

My first coach was a Wells Fargo American expedition of the 19th century. This miniature is built from a 1/10 scale Latin Craft Kit about 20 years ago. It was built before I built naval ship models, but as the boats are very bulky and difficult to pack and carry, I found this Wells Fargo carriage in a catalog of miniature boats, and I decided to try these kinds of jobs.

Coach 2
My second attempt at building a coach is a Royal Mail Coach.
This was my first project built from scratch.


Coachs 3 and 4
Of French origin, the next two miniatures took about a year and a half each to build in 1/10 scale. As you can see, I had not yet mastered the gilding of the gold leaf nor the details of the sculpture. I try to improve the refinement in the details throughout each new construction. The materials I use are always the closest I can find to the originals, such as velvet, silks and apricot fabric. The woods are beech, boxwood and various types of metal and iron.

Coach 5
The full-size carriage was the last of the museum collection that was used to transport Queen Elizabeth II of England when she visited Portugal in 1957. This miniature took about a year and a half to build.

Coach 6
Coach Nº 6 is the car of Filipe II. It is of Spanish origin and transported King Filipe from Madrid to Lisbon in 1619. It took about a month to make the trip. It is a coach unique in the world, and the original is number 1 of the museum’s collection. It was built in Spain in the 17th century. This miniature is made in 1/10 scale and took two and a half years to build. It was the most difficult model to build of all in my collection. It is made with natural silk, leather and apricot fabric. The seat has an evacuation system, WC and is built from chestnut wood, beech, metal and iron. All the details of the original are reproduced here.

Coach 7
My seventh coach model is a landau of French origin and was the first official vehicle of our first president of the Republic in 1910.

Coach 8
Coach No. 8 is a Landau of regicide. This landau has a very sad history, for in it was assassinated our last king, D. Carlis I. It is a landau of Portuguese origin. This miniature is made on a scale 1/10 and it took about a year and a half to build, Everything is functional, such as doors windows lamps, brake and suspension, plus hood is foldable.

Coache 9
My ninth coach is a Carruagem of Porto Covo. The carriage is of English origin, SÉculo XI. This miniature took about a year to build and is made on a scale 1/10.

Coach 10
This is a Napoleonic state coach built from plans offered by the Fischer Body Craftsman Guild, which was sponsored by General Motors Corporation in Detroit, Michigan in the 1930’s. When I was looking for miniature coaches on the internet, I happened to discover the history of this magnificent coach associated with G.M. The history of the challenge fascinated me immensely, so I bought the original plans in the U.S.A. and built this beautiful miniature. These coaches were originally to be built by young craftsmen in a nation-wide contest with the ultimate winner receiving a 4-year college scholarship. It served as a talent search for future automobile designers skilled in the art of model making.

Coach 11
I found the original of this van in a large commercial area doing a promotion for sausages. I found it very funny and unusual, so I asked for permission to take photos and measurements in order to build it on a scale of 1/10. It is all made in Oak wood with a varnished finish like the original.

Coach 12
I found this model coach on ebay. It is from the original made by boys for the G.M. contest, but it was very broken with many pieces missing, so I bought it to restore it. Here you can see it as I received it and in its final finished form. Most of the original parts were not possible to recover, so most had to be re-created. I just took advantage of some of the original pieces, such as the driver's seat curtains and little else. This Fischer Body Craftsman’s Guild story motivated me and charmed me a lot with G.M.

NOTE: The Craftsmanship Museum in Carlsbad, California has two award winning model Napoleonic coaches built for this contest on display. You can also learn more about the contest at

Coach 13
These next two are two carriages of the malaposta, or royal mail coach. Coach No. 13 is a miniature built on scale of 1/10 and took about a year to build. It originally made the connection between Lisbon Coimbra and Porto, which is about a 300 km journey. The trip took 34 hours, and there were 23 horse-shoe stops along the way. On the model, every detail is captured along with it’s function. As you can see, even the coach lights work.

Coach 14
Construction # 14 is a royal mail coach of Belgian origin, 19th century. This miniature took about a year and a half to build,

Coach 15
This was my latest construction. It was finished in 2018.
It is also a royal mail coach of unknown origin.
The four royal mail coaches belonging to the museum of the Post Office of Portugal and are vehicles that are in a very good state of conservation and restoration.

These miniatures are all built to scale 1/10 like all the others and each took about one year to build. Some of José’s other models can be seen in the display case behind him.

Mr. Brito’s workshop areas are compact but




“About my workshop and tools used, I mean that all these jobs are done in the garage, not very big, but enough for these constructions. The tools used are not too many, and they are not very sophisticated. I have a watchmaker's lathe for very small things, a larger lathe for larger things such as wheels and metal parts, an air compressor and airbrush for the painting, 2 table saws, a Proxxon mill for very fine and precise things, and a Parksaid for cutting thicker wood, a miniature strand for twisting the strings which overlap the windows and interior panels, and various jigs and molds for the railings. Some of the tools are of homemade construction, like hat rods or broken limes. I have included some photos of the workshop.”
José Cardosa Brito

Other Sources of

information on

the work of

José Brito



A detailed blog in English with many photos


YouTube video of a Portuguese TV show featuring José


More photos of coaches


A history of full-size coaches with details of José’s models too


Drawings and photos of real coaches


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