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Like-New 1981 Puma GTC

How cool is this? This rare 1981 Puma GTC is essentially a new car, having been purchased as a kit and never assembled until just recently. Everything on it is as-new, including the VW pan it’s based on. The Puma comes from the stash of a Puma collector who tracked the car’s whereabouts for years before acquiring it for his own collection. Given the Puma is already a rarity in the U.S., finding one that has never been driven has to be off-the-charts rare. While kit cars aren’t for everyone, I think we can all agree we want to see this one finished with a suitably hotted-up aircooled motor. Find it here on the Barn Finds Classifieds with an asking price of $24,900.

Puma has a long and surprisingly colorful history for a kit car manufacturer, and a close relationship with Volkswagen’s operations in Brazil in the 1970s. The car was sold complete in South America, but shipped as a kit to customers in North America. For whatever reason, these had a lower take-rate than the comparable Kelmark or Bradley kits; perhaps shipping costs were prohibitive to most U.S. consumers. It’s a shame, because the Puma is infinitely more beautiful than either of those VW-based kits, and looks much more like a real-deal production vehicle. This Puma, despite some details missing, is a complete car – right down to the never-installed, brand-new taillight lenses.

The interior is in mint condition, awaiting a set of period-correct Recaro seats. The dash, steering wheel, and carpets show no signs of wear, and the seller notes that the typically troublesome glove box door closes straight and true. The Puma does come with a rebuilt transmission and is ready for an engine to be dropped in, but depending on the origins of the gearbox, this could dictate the range of engines you can potentially drop in. Regardless, this is effectively a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a Puma collector or kit car fan in general, and the seller notes it even comes with a clean Arizona title despite never having seen any street use.

Puma used the VW Brasilia as the source of the pan for later models like this one, as Karmann Ghia production had ended, thus eliminating the long-time source of underpinnings. The chassis looks brand new underneath because it is, and it almost seems like a crime to expose it to road use. However, given you’re literally starting from “zero” on the odometer, the next owner can essentially drive this Puma a few hundred miles per year and likely never lose much in the way of value. This is a car for a niche audience, so the price is always going to be impacted by that factor, but kit car fans will likely agree that it’s always better to start with an assembled example that hasn’t been boogered up by careless backyard builders. Find another one!

Comments

  1. Uncle Ed

    My friend Kenn will probably buy it. He has poor cognitive function. I doubt he has the money, but he talks a good game.

    Like 1
  2. Blueprint

    Pumas were sold as new complete cars in Canada. Never heard they were sold as kits!

    Like 9
    • Marko

      I first saw the Puma, at the 1982 Calgary Auto Show in the spring of 1982. They had a convertible, and a coupe on display. They were indeed sold as complete cars in Canada. I did not know they were available as a kit, until much later. Always thought they were pretty cool cars.

      Like 3
  3. John M

    First and only time I saw one was 1986 My wife.’s father had one in Brazil outside Rio in a surf town called Sacarama. it was a hard top and had a ford motor and trans

    Like 4
  4. Dickie F.

    I love these cars. Fitted with the VW type 4 motor, they will last forever.
    I even considered this for my African south to north adventure, but it was too flashy in lieu of the beach buggy we eventually used.

    Like 3
  5. Dave

    I despise these VW based kit cars. So you put a VW motor in it and it’s still a slug.

    Like 2
  6. Tempo Matador Ray

    Nice Puma…these are lightweight and handle well. I feel that the asking price absent of the powerplant is too high in this case. Examples of these units in good, complete running order can be had in this price range. It still amazes me when I hear comments about V.W.’s being slugs. For decades aleady, today it’s not uncommon that turnkey, air-cooled daily street cars produce well over 150+ hp. And that’s not even a race or drag car…Continue to innovate not duplicate.

    Like 6
  7. Tempo Matador Ray

    Nice Puma…these are lightweight and handle well. I feel that the asking price absent of the powerplant is too high in this case. Examples of these units in good, complete running order can be had in this price range. It still amazes me when I hear comments about V.W.’s being slugs. For decades aleady, today it’s not uncommon that turnkey, air-cooled daily street cars produce well over 150+ hp. And that’s not even a race or drag car, which can produce well over 400hp…Continue to innovate not duplicate.

    Like 3
  8. Gordo

    The pan doesn’t look new to me. I see dings, dents, rust and maybe a welded up patch!

  9. Steve

    I don’t think that this price is completely out of whack actually based on the “new” description. I’ve seen completely restored models going for 15K to even 25k for earlier examples. The idea of having a new car should account for something. And yes a type 4 engine in that can produce as much as 200hp in this glorified go-kart. BUT, that underside pic looks like it’s rusted out! Buyer beware. I have 3x 1981 puma hard tops.

    Like 1
    • Dickie F.

      A 1972 Volkswagen Puma GT, with a VW 1600cc Type 1,
      sold for $ 29,999 on BAT on the 11/3/17

      Like 1

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