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Brazilian Import Needs A Home: 1980 or 82 Puma 1600 GTI


So you want the simplicity of a Volkswagen Beetle but an exotic looking body? There were plenty of kit cars that promised that in the 60’s and 70’s, but most had lots of rough edges and construction difficulties, and few had the “designed” feeling of a production built car once complete. Here, however, is an alternative. Produced in Brazil in various forms from 1967 until the mid 1980’s, this attractive coupe offered Volkswagen-based mechanicals within an attractive body. This one is located in Emeryville, California and is up for sale here on eBay, with a buy-it-now of $4,500 but lower offers are welcomed. The seller calls it a 1980 in the title of the auction, but a 1982 later in the description, so we’re not sure exactly what year it is.


We’ve posted about four Pumas previously here on Barn Finds, three of which were the rear-engined Volkswagen powered GTs like this one. I suppose you could think of this coupe as a poor man’s Porsche, with the flat four in the rear and some performance modifications. The original GTs were based on Karmann Ghia platforms, but this later GTI was based on a VW Brasilia platform, which was sold in Brasil as an intended replacement for the Beetle. As you can see, the tail lights are missing some components, so you’re going to have to find some. Here’s an example where a little detective work goes a long way. If you were looking for Puma lenses, there’s a set here on eBay for $249.99 + $39.99 shipping from Brazil. Ouch. On the other hand, if you look for a tail light supplier for the Brasilia, here’s some lenses for $R 29 each, which works out to about $7.33 each at today’s exchange rate. I know which ones I’d be ordering!


As the seller tells us in their somewhat confusing description, the fiberglass body has some rough spots, and you can see some cracks, probably from impact, in the right front and left rear of the body. The right front is the worst, and will take some work to make it right. I’m glad to see that all the glass looks intact and there’s even a sunroof.


While the interior is still pretty plain, it’s a lot nicer than any VW-based kit car I remember and the gauges and switch gear appear to be in an organized layout. I don’t know if the wooden steering wheel is stock, but it livens up the blackness of the interior nicely. I could certainly live with this interior on a daily basis!


While the seller’s description is almost completely useless (read it to see what I mean) as far as telling us about the car, they do mention that the engine will fire up but not keep running. Being a Volkswagen flat four, I can’t believe it’s going to be a difficult fix. There is what I think is an oil cooler in a very vulnerable position underneath the car that I’d want to relocate, but I don’t think I’d change anything else off the bat. Imagine the economy of a Beetle with the looks of a small exotic; I’d sign up for that! How about you?


  1. Avatar photo van

    You know beetle motors have come a long way
    So would you guys get mad if I said punch it out to over 2 liters and over 200 hp
    I thought porsche 912s were stupid
    This would be so much better

    Like 1
  2. Avatar photo Dan h

    Cool looking car,but man,just can get over the vw power plant. Needs a v6 or something.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo MountainMan

      Dan h,
      Ever ridden in a hot rod VW? I mean a beetle, Ghia, rail or other air cooled VW engine powered car that was built correctly? The right cam, a little porting in the right places and properly tuned and synched carbs can really wake up a 2000cc or smaller air cooled VW engine. I’ve built some monsters that surprised my V8 loving buddies. When you machine the block to allow for more room and start adding a turbo the longevity starts to get sacrificed but you may be impressed with what a well built flat four can do. Just sayin

      Like 1
  3. Avatar photo jim s

    looking at the photo of the motor i see the heat riser plates on the exhaust are not blocked off, the hot air ducts are no longer blocked off ( i wonder how much of the heater system is missing ), and one or more of the metal plates in the motor area are missing. it looks like they are using a red gas can not the VW gas tank. plan on doing a lot of work before it can be used as a driver. interesting find.

    Like 0
  4. Avatar photo Julles

    Looks a little like an early Z. Wish it had that power but it is a beautiful car and you will definitely be the only one at Cars N Coffee that has one.

    Like 0
  5. Avatar photo JoeT

    As jim s pointed out, missing engine tin and and other issues would indicate a thorough check of the engine before buying due to poor cooling air flow. Another issue is the placement of the external oil cooler, too much chance of damage from speed bumps or road debris. There are also a number of cracks / damaged spots in the body that require attention and finding replacement trim parts (broken / missing tail lights, etc.) would be a major problem. I think this would be a deal at closer to $2500.

    Like 0

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