Friday, January 15, 2016

Volkswagen Based: 1978 Puma GT

The Puma GT was a low volume oddball built first on the Brazilian Volkswagen Kharmann-Ghia chassis and later the Volkswagen Brasilia chassis.  It was the brainchild of Brazilian racer and businessman Genaro "Rino" Malzoni and sold in limited numbers in its home market, but a few were imported into the USA without engine/transmission and titled as kit cars.  The combination of Ferari-esque looks and Volkswagen simplicity (and pricing!) makes for an interesting combination.  Find this 1978 Puma GT here on eBay bidding for $6,500 reserve-not-met with 2 days to go, located in Hustisford, WI.

The Puma GT should not be confused with the Puma GTV, a kit car built by another Italian that features a crazy forward hinged canopy, and isn't really a kit car, except that the models exported to the USA needed engines/transmissions installed by the buyer because they didn't exactly meet all the Federal DOT/EPA regs when new.

Powering this Puma is an air cooled Volkswagen flat-4, which the seller describes as: peppy 1835 c.c. VW 4 cylinder engine feels just right in the light weight Fiberglas body. A previous owner installed the Porsche cooling fan shroud, GO40 Heads, roller rocker arms, Petronics [sic] pointless ignition system, and tinted windows.

The Puma is an interesting car, and you'll get questions wherever you go, but it is subtle (and low key) enough that people won't pull out cell phone cameras at every intersection or assume you are some kind of richy-richy...which is probably a good thing regardless if you are rubbing together your last two nickles or connecting two nickel mines. 

See a better way to win the "Most Unusual" car award at every car show you attend?


  1. Replies
    1. I like that idea! Is it me, or does it look like there might be just enough additional room aft of the fan belt for that to work without having to cobble up the rear valance?

    2. With the Subaru EJ25 engine swaps into VWs the main issue I see people dealing with is the width of the thing. Front to back is pretty similar to the VW Type 1, but the EJ25 is a twin-cam-per-head arrangement which makes it wide like Porsche.

      The rear of this Puma is boxy which is great news for would-be STI swappers.

      The way the Beetle's tail necks down after the rear window necessitates major hackage to get the EJ25 in. Hence, the propensity of single-cam (per head) EJ22 swaps.

      Not that I've looked into this extensively or anything ;-)

    3. What's the hp vs weight change for a Subaru EJ22 vs a hot VW 1835 with dual Weber carbs, cam and big valves which would be 100 hp MAX.

      I know I can pick up the 1835 by myself (barely) but I wonder how much more the EJ22 weighs? And how much more hp?

  2. Here's an illustration:


    1. Hey, it's no worse that what Carlo Abarth was doing to Fiat 500s back in the early '60s...well, not MUCH worse...

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  6. That's a great body. Smooth, classic lines.

    Very frustrating as a Canadian that we are not allowed to import kit cars into Canada. What the heck, eh?

    1. You can import JDM cars no problem, but not kit cars? That makes no sense.

    2. actually you CAN import a kit car into canada that is 15 years or older
      key is proving it is 15 yrs or older.... NOT by what it is (ie a 1929 mercedes with a title issues in 2010 is only 5 years old unless you can show an older registration, etc.)
      been there done that, got the t-shirt, sold the t-shirt, wish i had a t-shirt
      gord in ontario


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