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Brazilian Survivor: 1982 Puma GTC Spyder

While it might not be perfect, this 1982 Puma GTC Spyder is a clean and tidy survivor that can be driven and enjoyed immediately. With warmer weather just around the corner, this could be the perfect car in which to enjoy some relaxed top-down touring. If that sounds like a great option to you, then you will find the Puma located in Saint Cloud, Florida, and listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN of $15,750, but the option is available to make an offer.

I’ve always quite liked the styling of the Puma GTC. The front is very reminiscent of Alfa’s Spider, while the rear has a hint of Porsche 911 about it. With a body made from fiberglass, panel rust is never an issue, but this body does sport a few minor marks and scars. The owner says that he considered addressing these, but as he believes that the Silver paint that graces the panels is original, he didn’t want to interfere with it. Hiding below that stylish body is a VW Brasilia frame. The owner doesn’t mention any issues with rust in this area, so hopefully, things are quite solid and clean there. In keeping with a period when many manufacturers were moving away from external chrome and were actively embracing plastic trim, little more than the external door handles of the Puma sport any chrome. These look to be quite nice, while the same would appear to be true of the external plastic. The car features a black soft-top, and this looks quite presentable, while the glass appears to be close to perfect. A common theme with the GTC, in general, is the fact that the original aluminum alloy wheels tend to become quite dull in appearance. That is a problem that has aflicted this car, and they would certainly benefit from a professional polish.

Being based on a Volkswagen, it isn’t that unusual to find a Puma fitted with VW seats. The seats in this GTC don’t appear to hail from a Volkswagen, but they do look both supportive, and incredibly comfortable. They have recently been treated to new leather covers, and nicely compliment the original, leather-bound, sports wheel. The rest of the interior appears to be largely original, meaning that there is a significant amount of VW switch-gear, complimented by a comprehensive set of VDO gauges. The console looks to be in good order, as does the carpet and the dash. Interestingly, this Puma doesn’t feature so much as a radio, which is a bit unusual. What it does feature is both power windows, and air conditioning. The air conditioning system is complete, but the owner feels that it would benefit from re-gassing.

Powering the Puma is a 1,600cc Volkswagen flat-four, and in standard trim, the Puma should be punching out 53hp. Those ponies are sent to the rear wheels through a 4-speed manual transaxle. Performance in standard form is reasonable, but not neck-snapping. However, the close proximity that vehicle occupants have to Planet Earth tends to make things feel like they are happening far faster than they are. Being a Volkswagen engine, it is also pretty easy and cheap to extract improved performance, and this was a common route for Puma owners to follow. Because the car weighs a mere 1,587lbs, even a moderate increase in power is quite noticeable. The owner of this Puma says that the engine wears a fresh set of updated EMPI carburetors, and this is probably a good starting point for squeezing a few extra horses out of that four. He also says that the car runs and drives really well.

While a few complete Pumas found their way into the US via private importers, the vast majority of those that did make it were in kit form. This meant that the suspension, along with the engine and transaxle, had to be provided by the car’s American owner. It isn’t clear how many of these little classics found their way onto US roads, but total production for the 1982 model years was somewhere around 450, including both kits and complete cars. That makes finding one of these a bit of a rarity. The BIN price for this one has probably been set a little bit high, so, if you are interested, it could be worth the effort to make a reasonable offer. Of course, you might just look at this little beauty and feel that with the entertaining driving experience that the Puma promises, the price really isn’t a big issue. If that’s how you feel, then I can really understand that.


  1. Solosolo ken tillyUK Member

    Just make sure to turn the AC off as soon as you see you are approaching a hill, otherwise you are in for a big slow down.

    Like 2

    So interested till I saw the VDUB engine. Now disappointed and not interested.

  3. Kurt Member

    Turn off that A/C if you don’t want to fry your engine,period. Had at least one VW mechanic tell me that.

    Like 1
  4. Anthony in RI

    No cd player? I’m out

    Like 1
  5. Tom

    Is this the same vehicle?

    Like 2
    • Rex Fox Member

      Similar, but the seats and air cleaners are not the same. I would love to have this little car.

      • Paul

        Rex Fox, remember said seats redone, those sure look like the same seats. air cleaner could be changed . I was trying to read plate some numbers look close to be the same

  6. Gerry Member

    Bunch of bull****
    I’ve owned and driven more than one aircooled VW with A/C and have never had a problem keeping up with traffic or climbing hills.
    I live in a fairly warm semi tropical climate too and have never had over heating issues with the A/C in use either.

    Granted if you are dealing with a poorly maintained engine with the original piston type compressor then your results may vary.

    I would love to get my hands on this Puma but shipping would put the deal out of reach. It wouldn’t be hard to squeeze a little more oomph out of this engine and the modern sanden style compressor will allow for the A/C not to be a drag.

    Like 6
  7. Gaspumpchas

    check out that Pcv system!!

  8. Robert Thomas

    Subaru-transplant would liven this sled up quite a bit

    Like 3
    • Kurt Member

      Now you’re talking! Or a Type 4 (411) mill.

  9. Danh

    Cool looking car but like many others, I just can’t get over the aircooled power plant. The exhaust noise isn’t going to match the profile and lines of the car.

    Like 1
  10. steve

    VW based. Haters are gunna hate. It is what they do.

    Like 6
  11. Djjerme

    I feel like this car has been bouncing around for a bit. Is there just no market for them? Styling is cool, very Italian, but the German drive train I wonder if it makes it a non-starter for people. I mean, you’re only a couple Japanese parts away from the Axis…

  12. Martin Horrocks

    Very cheap, would easily sell for this price in Europe. I don´t think I´ve seen a convertible Puma before, looks less well-executed than the coupé.

    Are you sure these were sold as kits? Given low labour costs in Brasil and the fact that shipping would be pretty much the same anyway, what would be the point?

    Like 1
    • Steve

      The US had tarriff rules in place that made it difficult to import cars without high taxes. They imported them as kits, minus the beetle motor and transmission to get around it. Canada didn’t have the same rules, so they were imported complete. All parts are readily available as Puma sourced from everywhere. The door handles are fiat as I recall. The only puma specific part is the windshield. They are rare and costly. I have 3 1981 coupes in varying states of disrepair and the windshields are worth more than the car.

      Like 1
  13. JYC

    Panel fit looks so much better than on a Corvette !
    Air cooled flat 4 on a spider : noise might not be so far away from a 356 ! :)

    Like 1
  14. Bob McK Member

    I normally don’t like foreign cars, but this one has beautiful lines. No, I will not park it in my garage.

    Like 1
  15. Paul

    balance by Cash in person. will you be found when you go to get the car with all that cash???

  16. bobhess bobhess Member

    Spent a lot of years putting AC in Beetles. Installed properly they are dependable and don’t hurt the engines at all. As Adam said, it’s easy to pull 100 HP out of these engines and keep them very streetable. This is one of the nicest examples of this car I’ve seen in quite a while. Could be a ton of fun with some tweaking.

    Like 1
  17. Claudio

    For the same money or less , one can get a TOYOTA mr2 , 2000to 2005 and get a bettter car in every aspect …

    Like 1
    • Solosolo ken tillyUK Member

      And at the end of the day you would still have a Toyota MR 2 along with thousands of other people.

      Like 3
      • Claudio

        Really, how many of them do you encounter on a daily basis ?
        I live inncanada , montreal to be precise and i counted less than 10 in my 5 years of ownership of 2 different mr2 ‘s

        Like 1

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