Floored: A Rare Puma GTE On Air

The number of ideas executed in the automotive world is mind-boggling. While the big players have written most of automotive history, deep in the sidelines are stories of small and sometimes truly eccentric projects.

The Brazilian Puma is a chapter in the automotive history book that has remained largely unknown. So to see a Puma GTE in a modified state at the recent ‘To Hell’ stance show in Germany blew my mind. The unique sports car, slammed to the floor, spoke to my nerdy nature; I had to know more.

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I had seen the car on social media but didn’t know what it was. The round headlights reminded me of the original Lotus Europa. The sleek and low silhouette reminded me of a 1960s Italian Berlinetta. And the small dimensions made me think it could be a classic Abarth sports car.


A closer, in-person look revealed design cues from the Lamborghini Miura; the shape of the upper parts of the doors and the rear end that tapers inward are two such details. Looking back at Puma’s history, the Miura is indeed mentioned as an inspiration for the GTE.

But cues are where the similarities between the Puma GTE and any of the cars just mentioned begin and end.


The Puma story began in Brazil in the early 1960s with Italian-born designer Rino Malzoni. Using a German DKW chassis supplied by Veículos e Máquinas Agrícolas S.A. (DKW-Vemag) – the Brazilian DKW agent – Malzoni created a fiberglass-bodied sports car for motorsport. Off the back of its success in 1963 and 1964, the 1965 GT Malzoni road car – still using DKW underpinnings – was born.

One year later, the Malzoni brand became Puma, and the Puma GT – essentially a refined version of the Malzoni GT – made its debut. Around 125 cars were produced.

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When Volkswagen purchased DKW-Vemag in 1967, Puma had to pivot. Malzoni spent more than a year adapting his fibreglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) bodywork design to VW’s Karmann Ghia chassis. The wheelbase was shortened, but the Volkswagen air-cooled flat-four was retained. The Puma GTE was launched in 1970, and in the following years, other variants were produced and updates were made. Factoid: The ‘E’ in the Puma GTE stands for ‘Export’.

This 1976 GTE came to Germany in 2017. Pascal Klein – also known as Mr. Wyld – the current owner – purchased the car in a restored condition in 2020 and began making personal touches the following year.


Pascal had previously built a very low VW Beetle, so he was intrigued by the Volkswagen-underpinned Puma GTE when hearing about it from a friend. The Beetle was sold and the new project began.

The idea for the build was relatively simple. Being a unique car with exotic styling and irreplaceable body parts, the exterior was to remain largely standard. However, the suspension, fenders, wheels and interior would all see work.

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In stock form, the GTE roofline sits below 1.2 meters. With air suspension and a little body modification, Pascal hoped to drop it to under 1 meter. Sitting on 15-inch Work Equip 03 wheels fitted via hub adapters and with the suspension fully aired out, a roof height of just 99cm (40 inches) has been achieved. That’s just bonkers!


Just as crazy are the rear wheel specs for this tiny car, which read 15×10-inch. The dishes are huge and the fitment is perfect. The JDM wheels add another layer of mystery for anyone who doesn’t know what a Puma GTE is in the first place. I’m sure that’s most of us.


Looking inside the car, the air suspension tank and custom hard lines mounted high in the rear of the cabin are the first things that grab your eye. But the interior has seen a lot of work throughout.


All of the factory red accents have been changed to black and new front seats have been fitted, although they look like they could be original items. The wooden panel across the dashboard is a custom piece made to match the tone of the classic Nardi wooden steering wheel. Everything apart from the air suspension installation feels totally in keeping with the car’s age and design.

Since finishing the Puma, Pascal has taken it to events all over Europe. In 2022, it even won the German stop of that year’s Hot Wheels Legends Tour.


The modifications to Pascal’s Puma GTE are simple but well thought out. What I appreciate the most is that he hasn’t been afraid to customize what is a very rare machine.

It’s only been a minute, but I’m already looking forward to my next encounter with this crazy little part-German, part-Brazilian, and Italian-designed sports car.

Steve Edward
Instagram: stevedwrd

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Wow. This is a “build” now. Wow. Jesus.


What would you call it, since you don't approve of the term "build"?


A slightly modified vehicle.


Any engine shots or info?

fake name #3209

There’s this thing called the internet Nate. You can search things on it. Give it a shot sometime. You go to a website called google and you type the car name then the word engine after it. This will surely be a great form of entertainment for you. Just be careful your head doesn’t explode. Autistic kids tend to go pretty nuts with it.


Well, I’ll be nice because you clearly don’t know much about automobiles or how they work. It is very possible that the engine could have been replaced or modified in the last 50-60 years. There have been many advances in engine technology so it’s quite reasonable to assume that the drivetrain may have been modified like the exterior and suspension. Feel free to ask any other questions in a respectful manner and I may answer them.


The engine remained the original Beetle's 1.6 liter. There wasn't much to uncover there so I decided not to include it.


Nice seeing a Puma in here, although I'm not entirely fond of bagged cars it was a pleasant surprise.


What a great looking car!


Never heard of a Puma before. Learn something new every day. Looks like it was copied from an old Ferrari. Like a GTB. No engine pics?


There's definitely a lot of 1960s Ferrari vibe to it! No, there wasn't much to uncover under the rear engine, but it's a 1.6 liter air-cooled Beetle motor


Love the brake lines in the back seat.

Some people are happy with pathetic OEM brake lines while others pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for their brake line setup.
I see that the pilot of this machine is also a Canyon lover (or at least has Canyonic sympathies) - Steve's masterful photowork has exposed a couple unmistakable dirt particles congruent with the Rhine valley region. That type of dust doesn't just accumulate if you're commuting to work

I guess these cars coul be considered "lesser known" examples to non-car people. An acquaintance here "misnamed" one and a written apology was demanded by the Puma owner. Those who remember this incident are probably reading this post right now - hell of a Cars and Coffee that was...

Catch you on "the" Next Wave *Throws Shaka Sign*

bemused reader

The smugness of "canyonic sympathies"...you can tell this dude thinks of himself as the next Shakespeare.
Yet he also claimed recently that Lotus employees are trained in Cryptozoology.


Frank is a typical liberal. Zero brains. Full of hot air. Loves to hear himself talk. Lies constantly. Makes up words to sound smarter than he is. Melted his guns to save the republic.

The guy is a thoroughbred moron of the highest order. Amazing anyone actually listened to him or featured him. Shows you how stupid journalists are to not catch the plethora of lies he has spread over the years.


Those are air ride lines, genuis. Though since you don't even know how to drive I have no clue why I'd expect you to know anything about how cars actually work either. I bet Rupert would know that.... too bad your pansy a** got him banned. I can't wait for them to ban you next!


@FRANK_RONIN......I think those lines are for the air ride.


Wow Frank, you finally noticed that someone else than Larry made a post. Good on you!

Now if you read the rest of the post, you could have read that those line were air lines for the suspension. But obviously, its hard to make a topic about yourself and "the canyons" with airlines.


Bring back Rupert! Why were you able to prohibit him from posting


Ep3 now you are learning how the industry works. It’s disgusting.

Salt 'n' Peppaaaaa


$100,000 + brake lines. Ahahahahahahahahahahha

Then he said the dust was from the Rhine Valley Region.




Pretty cool.


Brazil have some unique cars that could blow your minds (take consideration about how our country is, per capita income, corruption and so on...)


For some unknown reason I've been introduced to a lot of Brazilian special cars recently, there are certainly very cool cars that were made there. I do hope I get to shoot a Volkswagen SP2 in the future!


Not only the OEM low production cars (without a "big brand" behind it) but the customized scene here is pretty interesting. We recently had an event called "Armageddon", no prep drag racing (1/8 mile). The variety of cars (for our scene at least) are pretty aewsome... VW Gol's with 4x4 (using Dana 44's in the rear axle), Chevy Opala (it's like a mixed Opel Reckord with a Chevy Nova) with Proline V8... anyway, I would like to see some Brazilian cars in Speedhunters...


What I'd love to see is a Speedhunter from Brazil to uncover that! I think South America is one of the last corners of earth that hasn't had a Speedhunter yet ;)

I'm sure you guys have a lot of stuff going on that just hasn't had its spotlight...


We have some great photographers and writers here, I'm sure you guys would be surprised! I always wondered why Speedhunters don't have a Speedhunter in South America...


I wondered the same about Germany, that's why I stepped up and started writing about the stuff that goes on here. Speedhunters' inbox is open for great stories & photography from anyone & anywhere.

fake name 3204

Hmm, maybe. I’ve raced over 300 cars in competition and do all my own work. Formally trained tech as well. Let’s dig the hole. Show some photos of things you’ve built. Would love to see your work.

fake name #3204

You are for sure under 25 and have no degree of experience in building your own cars. Nevermind.


You should probably stop digging that hole deeper. I’ve worked as a technician, I’ve built and swapped more engines than I could possibly count (including many type1 engines) and I’ve tuned more cars than you have probably driven. That’s why I know that someone who claims to know engine size by an exhaust tip is probably inexperienced.
Btw, there are many air cooled vw’s that are just as low as this car static. Other than the airlines being prominently featured, you wouldn’t know if this was on air or not.

fake name #3204

Sigh, Nate you can 100% make assessments about an engine based on exhaust pipe diameter if you have experience and knowledge to do so. There are equations for calculating this stuff that gives a general ball park. Very easy to eye ball after you've been doing it a long time. Just like how anyone with some experience can immediately tell this car is on bags. Right?

It's not rocket science. It's common sense once you have a basic understanding of engineering and cars. Engines and transmissions are just one of the lesser understood parts of cars as most enthusiasts never get to work on these. Most pay others to do so. This was my job for a few years at a shop. Have done my own stuff for years since. Sounds like you could learn a lot if you started turning wrenches.

What do you do for a day job and what is your background with cars?

Fake name #3204

Are you under the age of 25?


I know you are desperate to sound knowledgeable but the reality is that exhaust could be bolted up to almost any type 1 engine. It could be a 1200 or a 2200, or anything in between. Maybe do a little research before responding?


There have been 100’s of different type 1 exhaust systems. Exhaust tubing and tips vary widely and don’t represent the actual engine size.