Brazilian Beauty: 1984 Puma GTC

The owner of this 1984 Puma GTC refers to the fact that it was made in Brazil. This is a fact that can make some people scratch their heads, as many people are not aware that Brazil was once the home of such a sports car manufacturer, let alone one that had been in existence since the 1960s. This 1984 GTC is one of Puma’s products, and it is a very attractive car that is now looking for a new home. Barn Finder Roger spotted this little beauty for us, so thank you for that Roger. The Puma is located in Chicago, Illinois, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner has set a price of $12,000 for this little classic.

The styling of the Puma is quite interesting. To look at it, you can see touches of Porsche in there, with a sprinkling of Alfa Spider. The result is quite an attractive car, and certainly a product where the fit and finish is well above what you would expect from what was essentially a low-volume sports car manufacturer of that era. The panels and paint look to be really good, while the car has been recently fitted with a new soft-top. The only area that looks like it may need some attention is the original alloy wheels. There’s nothing radically wrong with them, but they would definitely benefit from either a good polish or complete restoration.

The interior of the Puma also looks quite nice, and the fit and finish look to be of a fairly reasonable quality. I like the chunky little leather-bound steering wheel, while I’m pretty sure that those leather seats aren’t original. They do look nice and comfortable though. Looking around the interior there are some obvious indications of the car’s Volkswagen DNA, but it still looks good. There are a few wiring issues that would need to be tidied up, but it really does look like the car is ready to just be driven and enjoyed.

It’s interesting that when we delve under the hood of the Puma, we once again are confronted with some untidy wiring. This is a crying shame because everything else presents so well. For me, getting the wiring right would be priority one, for both aesthetic and safety’s sake. Hiding under the hood is the venerable 1,600cc Volkswagen engine, which sends its power to the road via a 4-speed manual transmission. The engine is fed by dual Webber carburetors, and if this has been tuned properly, it should produce some relatively healthy horsepower figures for such a small engine. Of course, power and performance are a relative thing. The Puma is significantly lighter than the VW from which it was derived, so even modest increases in power output are going to result in a lively car. Another factor that doesn’t hurt at all is the fact that the Puma has a far lower center of gravity than the Volkswagen, and that is a huge plus when we start to talk about handling. Unfortunately, the owner isn’t particularly forthcoming about the mechanical state of the car, so hopefully, he will be willing to answer plenty of questions that any prospective buyer is likely to pose.

It’s funny how the automotive industry has the ability to throw up the occasional left-field surprise, and the Puma GTC is one of those. It is an extremely attractive sports car that should offer decent performance, coupled with a drive-train that should be easy and cheap to maintain. It should also be a fun little car to drive, and the new owner is guaranteed to attract plenty of attention when they take on some top-down cruising this Summer.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Never heard of it. We missed out on so many cool cars here in the US. I really liked it,,,until I got to the motor picture ( needle screeching across record) I like VW motors, I just figured this would have something more modern than a 40 year old design. If they were going that route, do the Porsche thing, you’d really have something, I think. Still pretty cool,tho.

    Like 3
  2. Josh_T

    Howard, my thoughts on the engine exactly! My first real job was removing/rebuilding/re-installing 1600 VW engines for an old grouchy drunk in a dimly lit shack next to the rendering plant. Not sure if it was the overall sad experience or learning how the VW valves had to be adjusted frequently…

    Like 2
    • Bob E.

      As an avid VW enthusiast the Puma has been on my radar for quite some time. Most are overpriced “projects” I cannot afford. This one looks reasonably priced for the condition. Hmmm

      Like 2
  3. Bob_S

    I don’t know why you are knocking the VW engine, it should be a lot of fun. Many sports cars from England used sedan engines — MG, Triumph, Jaguar, TVR ETC. If it had a Porsche engine it would have cost a 1/3 more when new. You can get plenty of power out of an air cooled VW engine if you want. Hell, the Porsche 914 had a VW engine in it and their values are rising.

    Like 8
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      Seriously!
      A ton of power can be had from the air-cooled engines. Lots of options there. Such a stylish body, probably decently light too.
      What’s not to like?

      Like 8
  4. Dutch 1960

    Saw a coupe version of one of these later Pumas at a stoplight the other day, all clean and tidy, and lowered a bit versus this one, especially in the front. Not a fan of the VW engine, but, dang it, the car looked really sharp.

    Like 2
  5. George51

    It may not be the “fastest” sports car on the track, but Brazil did manufacture a lot of VW’s for many years, and still has a very active automotive industry going! I think that the VW engine is a real Plus, since it’ll be easy to drop out that engine and install a new one a lot cheaper than it would cost to rebuild some fancy European motor! And it’s a really Sharp looking car. I know my Brazilian friend would “kill” to have that as his own, and his friend Nathan would “die” to have it. LOL

    Like 3
  6. Kurt

    Great find, wish I was closer and had the dinero. Any VW rarety like this car or the Kubelwagen or a notchback, really gets the compliments at a VW car show.

    Like 1
  7. Shawn

    In the early 80’s my dad and a good friend made the attempt to bring Puma to the US…their “company” was in San Diego and they had two cars…a silver convertible similar to this one, and a white coupe. They had a phone number printed on each trunk lid and received many calls…and travelled to a lot of shows and had tons of interest…but never sold a single car. I will say, it was fun while it lasted, and I still have the copy of Petersons Kit Car with a photo of me “selling” the cars at a show in Caesers Palace Las Vegas. Looking back, despite the uniqueness, sharp styling, good quality and a power plant that could be served anywhere…I think a lot of potential buyers got nervous because there was no dealer, service or parts network..but that is just a guess. I’m not even sure what happened to the two demos.

    Like 2
  8. Steve e

    I had a Puma coupe back about 1980. Yes, an attractive little auto. A couple of details that I recollect, but might be subject to correction. These were fiberglass bodied, very light car. Oversized tires, dry streets only. Got the aquaplaning fright of a lifetime while passing an 18 wheeler on I-5 in the rain. Looking up at the lug nuts while floating….
    Also, I believe these were brought into the US without engines due to import reg’s. A kind of kit car?

    Like 2
  9. Kurt

    It would be very interesting to me to find the molds, as I bet there are VW enthusiasts who would want one.

    Like 3
  10. scottymac

    Next to Adriana Lima, Brazil’s most beautiful export!

    https://cdn1.thr.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/NFE_portrait/2013/10/adrianna_lima.jpg

    Wonder if there’s room in the back end for a Corvair six; the Puma, not Adriana….

    Like 1
  11. Dickie F

    I may be a few years late, but there was a Puma manufacturing plant in South Africa recently.
    They produce/d this shape Puma in coupe form only, on the same old VW Beetle chassis, but with more modern brakes and a range of the VW air cooled engine in various capacities.
    It looks like a great product.

    Like 2
  12. Dickie F

    Yip, you can order a new one…..

    https://www.pumacars.co.za

    Like 2
    • grant

      Negative, Ghost Rider. That website hasn’t been updated since 2011 and all the links on it come back “page not found”

      Like 1
  13. scottymac

    I love how the article describes Porsche cars as looking like “… a well-used cake of soap…”! I’ve been saying that for years!

    Like 1
    • Dave Mazz

      That was the secret of the early Porsche body designers. They would make several small-scale versions of a new design out of hand soap, and put them in the employee wash rooms. Then, after a couple of days, they’d collect the models, and the one that looked the most aerodynamic went into production….. :-) :-)

  14. Kinmont Willy

    If they are still in business the price is reasonable, Shipping and Taxes extra

    Puma Sports Car Club

    Jack Wijker
    Factory direct number: (012) 719-8494
    Cell: 072 118 3470
    Tel/Fax: (012) 460-8725 (after hours)

    E-mail: puma.car@mweb.co.za
    P O Box 95875, Waterkloof
    Pretoria 0145
    South Africa

    The more powerful Puma twin port will sell for $12,689 USD in South Africa. The entry level GT VW 1300 will cost $9,273 USD. Puma anticipates selling three cars/month when it goes commercial, gradually building up to 15 cars/month.

    • Dickie F

      Sadly I think Grant is right.
      I live a 14 hour drive from their advertised location and I will be interested in a new Puma.
      But they do not respond to my enquiries and the emails are returned……
      I wonder what happened to all the new spare parts?

      Like 1

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