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PUMA IN SOUTH AFRICA


The following information regarding Puma in South Africa was provided by Jack Wijker of Puma Marketing (South Africa), Armand Botha, Wouter de Waal, and Gerhard Terblanche.


1974 South African Puma Coupe

First run cars were outwardly identical to Brazilian cars.

South African Puma production began in Durban in 1973. The car was basically the Brazilian GTE but there were some differences. South African GTE's were right hand drive rather than left hand drive as were the Brazilian made cars. Also, the South African Pumas were built on VW Beetle pans and had front drum brakes. Brazilian GTE's of this period used VW Karmann Ghia pans and had front disk brakes. A total of 357 units were produced and sold in a matter of 21 months. One of these was exported to Australia to test that market. Unfortunately, the lack of cost control in the manufacturing operation led to the downfall of the company. A picture of the Coupe that was sent to Australia appears on the main page. That car has survived, and is maintained in show condition by its owner. NOTE: There are two stories regarding the Australian car. A second account indicates that it was a Brazilian made car that was sent to Australia for the market test.

South African Puma Advertisement

South African Pumas were right hand drive.
Scan provided by Wouter de Waal.

Although production ceased, demand for the cars remained strong. As a result, Puma enthusiast Jack Wijker approached Puma Brazil for the right to continue manufacturing and marketing Puma cars in South Africa. This was granted in 1986. A company called Puma Marketing was formed to sell cars and parts in South Africa. Initially, Puma Marketing imported complete cars from Brazil. Due to exhorbitant import duties, Puma Marketing decided to manufacture cars locally. The molds were purchased, and 26 units were assembled in Verwoerdburg between 1989 and 1991.

1974 South African GTE Coupe



Owner: Gerard Schultz

Beautifully Restored 1974 GTE Coupe







Round tail lights are from a Fiat 850.
Owner: Lance Allam

1975 South African GTE Coupe



Interior view shows right hand drive layout.
Owner: Philipp Schmidt

Another 1974 South African GTE

Interior has been nicely redone.
Owner: Paul Visage

Second Run South African Puma

Headlight covers were retained on the second run cars.

The second run cars were based on the 1973-74 GTE Coupe, with split chrome bumpers and a 1600 cc air cooled VW engine. Rear quarter windows were added in place of the louvers used on first run cars. The door and rear quarter styling of the earlier GTE were retained, as were the headlight covers. Thus, the side profile of these cars is different from Brazilian made coupes with rear quarter windows.

Another Second Run Coupe



Second run cars had rear quarter windows added.

During 1999, there was a rumor that a third run might be undertaken. Nothing materialized at that time. However, Jack Wijker has apparently decided to give it one more go in a rented factory in Babelegi, north of Pretoria. This time around, he is offering to convert Beetles into Pumas in addition to offering complete cars. The company will also restore first and second run cars for current owners. The company web site is located here.

New Puma Plant in Babelegi





The third run cars look much like the second run cars except for their black bumpers and side marker lights ahead of the front wheel wells. The cars are built on VW Beetle chassis units that the company obtains locally and refurbishes. The chassis is shortened to accept the Puma body and new floor pans are installed. Brakes and suspension are upgraded and other wear parts are replaced. The bodies are formed from molds imported from Brazil. New style five spoke alloy wheels with Puma center caps complete the package. No word yet on whether Puma Cars of South Africa will attempt to export cars, and if so, in what form.

Most recently, the company has developed a battery powered electric version of Puma which is claimed to equal or exceed the performance of the standard car.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST ON THE
ELECTRIC PUMA SPORTS CAR

Wouter de Waal's first run South African Puma Coupe.
Tony de Haas's modified second run South African Puma Coupe.


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Updated 3/23/11