Puma was manufactured by the Brazilian automobile manufacturer Puma. Puma automobiles derived from the DKW-Malzoni, which were built by Rino Malzoni around 1964.
The DKW featured a straight-three cylinder, two-stroke engine. The prototype’s body was made of steel but was considered too heavy, so a fiberglass GT version was shown at the 1964 Sao Paulo Motor Show.
Malzoni founded the Luminari Ltda company in 1964 along with other auto enthusiasts. The engine size was increased to a 1.1-L and cars began to sell. On September 14, 1966, the company’s name was changed to Puma and production of Puma cars began.
The Puma was redesigned to be made longer with bumpers that were mounted higher. About 35 cars were produced between 1964-1966, in 1967 125 units were built and a few more in 1968. Total cars produced that used the DKW engine was 170.
Volkswagen purchased the company in 1967 and the DWK engine was no longer used. In 1969 the Volkswagen 1,600 cc engine was installed into the Puma giving it more power and was called the Puma 1600 GTE.
In 1970 a convertible version was released and Pumas began to be exported to South America, North America and Europe. Many of them were kit cars lacking any mechanical components.
The Puma was redesigned in 1973 using the Volkswagen Brasilia as its base and produced 357 cars in the next two years. The body was redesigned again in 1977 with a similar style but the bumpers were now molded into the less rounded body.
In 1980, it was restyled, as well as renamed. The coupe became GTI and the convertible became the GTC. Changes included rubber bumpers like the Porsche 911 G, Mercedes-styled taillights and push button door handles from the Alfa Romeo Ti 4.
In 1982 a P018 version was introduced. It was wider, front and rear, and the rear suspension featured semi-axles with constant-velocity (CV) joints and transverse torsion joints. The 1.6-L engine was standard, but 1.7, 1.8 and 2.0-L versions were also available but for an extra cost. Annual production of the P018 was suppose to equal 1,000 units, however, a total of only 55 were built.
A larger Puma GTB was produced using a Chevrolet straight-six engine available in coupe only.
In 1985, Puma went into bankruptcy after a sharp decline in sales and was sold to Araucaria Veiculos who tried to revive the company, but lack of funds forced a sale to Alfa Metais Veiculos two years later.
The GTB was renamed the AMV and the smaller Pumas were renamed the AM1 for the coupe and AM2 for the convertible. They used an air-cooled 1,584 cc flat-four engine that would only reach a top speed of 87 mph.
In 1989 the AM3 and AM4 were produced and received a water-cooled Volkswagen AP1800 engine but weight distribution was and handling suffered from a rear mounted radiator. A small number of vehicles were produced in the early 1990s. The last Puma sold was an AM4 in 1995 with a total of 40 AM3 and AM4s being built.
In 2006 a limited quantity of Pumas began to be produced in South Africa and an all-electric version is being researched and developed by a company known as Evdrive.
Image Caption: A Puma GTS 1979. Credit: LeBubu93/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)