Brazil's given the world many things — an ethanol-based infrastructure, meat served on a sword, and bikinis — my god, the bikinis. Today, Nice Price or Crack Pipe brings you one more Brazilian gift to the world- the Puma.
When Billy Joel sang about trading in your Chevy for a Cadillac-ac-ac-ac he intoned that Anthony can't drive with a broken back, but at least he can polish the fenders. Well, Anthony may have taken umbrage at having to polish the acres of fenders on yesterday's custom Caddy, broken back or no. A narrow 58% of you shared that indignation over the coup' d'etat asking price and so, for today at least, stay in Vegas it will.
Another place were you can gamble is on the used car lot, especially when looking at something so unique and rare that spotting another on the road- much less finding parts for it at your local Pep Boys- means a roll of the dice. Coming up not boxcars but Puma car is today's boy from Brazil.
Founded by São Paulo-based racer Genaro "Rino" Malzoni, Puma originally constructed DKW-based racers under the Malzoni name. When VW bought DKW in 1964 and ended the Brazilian production of the make, Malzoni switched to building rear-engined sports cars based on the Brazilian-built Karmann Ghia. Taking styling cues from many contemporaries, the newly-branded Puma cars became modestly successful in the South American nation, enjoying domestic protection tariffs that kept out competitors. When those were finally lifted in the 1980s, Puma ran into the issues that most cottage-industry makers do and folded due to profitability challenges. A short-lived resurgence in the late ‘80s - early ‘90s failed to swell total production numbers significantly.
What we have today is a 1981 example of the GTI coupe. Its nose is reminiscent of an Alfa Spider and overall the design reflects the appreciation for clean, unfettered aerodynamic shapes that are also seen in the personal hygiene practices of many of the women of Brazil. The engine started out as a 1600, but has been punched out to 2,054-ccs by Bernie Bergman, who knows what he's doing when it comes to VW flat fours. The $8,500-U.S. asking price is a far cry from the $9,900 at which the car was previously offered- when it had a smashed nose. That may reflect either a soft market for Brazilian sports cars, or a Black Friday deal that's run over.
As Pumas were only brought into the U.S. in very limited numbers, this is a rare opportunity. As it's basically a VW Karmann Ghia underneath, maybe that rarity is with good reason. So, what do you think about this leão de montanha? For $8,500 would you go Brazilian? Or, does that just make you want to blame it on Rio?
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