1979 Puma GTE

$183.6M for Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale
Saturday, 21 January - Sunday, 29 January
Sale Price
29 January 2023
Sold Date
Lot Number
Visually maintained, largely original
Auction House
Chassis no. SP1026320. White over dark gray leather. 1600 Volkswagen engine, 4-speed, alloy wheels, Michelin tires, air conditioning, leather-wrapped steering wheel, later radio, white face VDO gauges.

Evaluation: Unclear early history. Titled as a 1979 Volkswagen. Good paint with a handful of chips on the front. Significant scratching on the windshield and rear glass. Huge crack in the right taillight. Lightly worn leather and switchgear, plus pitting on the E-brake handle. Aging wheels. Tidy underneath. Brazil’s most famous sports car, not that it has much competition for that title.

Bottom Line: A two-stroke DKW-powered sports car called the Malzoni GT competed successfully on Brazilian race tracks in the mid-1960s, but it was soon restyled and rebadged as the Puma, and when VW took over DKW”s Brazilian facilities in 1967, Pumas swapped in the Karmann Ghia’s flat-four and underpinnings beneath the rather attractive fiberglass body. Pumas sold as complete cars on their home turf, but in export markets (the “E” in GTE stands for “Export”) like the United States it came as a kit. Don’t think of it as a cheap Beetle-based kit car, though. All American owners had to do was put in the engine, front suspension, transaxle, wheels, and battery. Fit and finish aren’t great, but they’re better than you might expect.

Obscure little sports cars can sometimes fly under the radar at a massive, muscle- and restomod-heavy auction like Barrett-Jackson, but this Puma sold surprisingly well. Not outrageous considering what other clean Pumas sell for, but certainly well over kit car money.

by Andrew Newton
17 February 2023

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