These Two Sleek Sports Cars Have Volkswagen Origins
It is only human nature to want what we can’t have, and unfortunately for many Brazilians in the ‘70s and ‘80s, that meant a sports car. At the time, the Brazilian government leveraged import bans and heavy tariffs on foreign vehicles, putting iconic sports cars like the Porsche 914, MG MGB, and Datsun 260Z well and truly out of reach.
So what did enterprising individuals in the South American country do? Well, they made their own using domestically produced vehicles, and that’s essentially how these two svelte sports cars were born—a 1972 Puma GT 1600 (pictured above) and a 1979 Bianco S coupe (pictured below)—both based on long-lived Volkswagen mechanicals. Both will go up for auction at Auctions America’s upcoming Fort Lauderdale event in April, and the duo are expected to fetch relatively low sale prices, between $10,000 and $20,000, despite their unique history.
First, the Puma. While the Puma GT echoes contemporary Porsches in design, it’s actually based on the Brazilian-built Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, and before that, Puma used to source old DKW components. But lift up the boot on this car and you’ll find a familiar 1,600cc air-cooled flat-four breathing through Solex carburetors. It’s all hooked up to a four-speed manual. From a visual standpoint, it’s quite a good looking thing, and not “kit car-ish” in the least, despite the company having sold troves of these in kit form. From its enclosed headlights to its raked rear, the Puma GT simply flows wonderfully from one curve to the next, especially at the back where its stance looks wide, aggressive, and like a big cat ready to pounce. A puma, if you will. Production ran from 1966 all the way up to the mid 1990s, however when Brazil’s heavy import restrictions came to a close, it signaled the eventual end of the line for the marque. Even so, an impressive 22,000 are said to have been built in entirety, and this car can claim itself as one of 484 built for 1972. Having been through a comprehensive restoration, it’s safe to say it’s absolutely gleaming, inside and out.
Where the Puma GT zigs, the Brazilian-built Bianco S zags. Launched at the Sao Paulo Motor Show in 1976, the Bianco S features a similarly fiberglass-draped body atop Volkswagen running gear, however its design language is a bit more daring than the Puma. A bit more ‘70s, perhaps. A long and expansive window juxtaposed the car’s fluid and swooping body, which hugged the ground with budding sports car ambition. It’s almost like someone tried to describe the Lancia Stratos over the phone, but forgot to mention the “wedge of cheese” part. Regardless, it’s a beautiful, hand built thing (interior seen below), and yet again you’ll find a 1,600cc Volkswagen flat-four tucked in its rear. The company is said to have a good amount of success, up to the point of producing nearly 20 of these cars a month for a period and selling a rumored 180 immediately after an appearance at the 1976 New York Auto Show. Unfortunately, at least for Bianco fans, the company shuttered in 1979.
While these certainly aren’t the only Volkswagen-based specialty sports cars—there’s the APAL-Porsche 1600 GT and Manta Montage (of Hardcastle and McCormick fame), among many others—they do represent a very unique piece of Brazil’s motoring history, and that’s certainly worth preserving. Like them? The Bianco S and Puma GT will cross the auction block on Friday, April 1st in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.