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RE: Shed of the Week: Ford Puma

RE: Shed of the Week: Ford Puma

Friday 10th November

Shed of the Week: Ford Puma

A Ford gem to pounce on before it gets away



Mrs Shed can sometimes be seen browsing the shelves of the local door furniture and vinyl record shops. On balance, she prefers a well polished knob to a dusty old seven-incher, and in that respect she would thoroughly approve of this week's Puma Shed.

Early car, best colour and seemingly no rust...
Early car, best colour and seemingly no rust...
It might seem unlikely now, in an age when even the most mundane car is stuffed with attention-grabbing interior features and bits of jewellery, but that metal gearknob was one of the three most-talked about features when Ford added this titchy coop to its New Edge range in late 1997. The other two being the Puma's styling and handling, both of which were greatly lauded.

In period, Clarkson called it 'devastatingly handsome' and praised its driveability, though he did keep banging on about it being based on a Fiesta and reckoned it was suspiciously cheap at £14K. Ford cleverly edged JC out of the equation by producing an excellent Steve McQueen ad, which most of you aged 25 and over should remember. If you don't, watch it here.

As time passed, a fourth and rather less welcome topic was added to the Puma conversation: rust. 99 per cent of the ones you will see now will be riddled with it. The most vulnerable areas are the rear arches, but door edges and sills are far from immune.

Don't forget that metal gearknob!
Don't forget that metal gearknob!
The fact that this example from the first full year of production looks pretty much the same now as it would have done in the showroom twenty years ago, the odd pin dent apart, is almost as much of a miracle as last week's apparently rust-free Disco V8.

It gets better, too. The Puma came with a choice of three engines, a 1.4, a 1.6 and, in this car, by far the most desirable, the 1.7 VCT. Developed by Ford and Yamaha, VCT stood for Variable Cam Timing - it was the 1.7 Ford's VTEC, if you like - and was easily the best engine choice of the three. In a sub 1,040kg package, it put the Puma within reach of eight second 0-60 performance, a near 130mph top end, and 40mpg in enthusiastic driving. Puma 1.7s also came with standard anti-lock braking and traction control, which again was quite a posh spec back then.

The Japanese connection was stronger than you might think. According to legend, the 1.7 engine was made in Spain, sent off to Japan for Yamaha tweaking, and then sent back to Spain. You can't imagine that sort of thing happening now.

And it's £650!
And it's £650!
The two potential downsides with the 1.7 were Ford's decision to go with Nikasil cylinder bore plating - a plan that has never really worked for any of the companies brave enough to try it - and the VCT system's oil pressure-controlled varying of the inlet cam. Although there aren't that many reported instances of Nikasil problems on Pumas, it's definitely worth making sure you're using the right grade of oil: 5W30, and semi-synthetic at least.

Core plugs near to the spark plugs are known for leaking coolant, and the thermostat, coil pack and lambda oxygen sensor are all known to fail. Electrically, you might encounter earthing problems caused by rusty earth straps, heater fans and control valves not working properly, and sticking windows (they have their own frame).

Cambelt replacement on the 1.7 is every five years or 80,000 miles (the smaller engines are 10 years/100K). This 73,000-mile car could have been on its original belt and tensioner, but the vendor tells us that it had the work done two years ago as part of the full service history.

Another look here, if you need convincing
Another look here, if you need convincing
Dampness in the passenger carpets usually comes through the bulkhead grommet ducting wiring into the cabin, or it could be a popped-off air-con drain pipe. Mind how you go when opening the tailgate after rain, too, unless you like soggy groceries. The tailgate gas struts usually die, the parcel shelf often comes adrift, and the faux-leather steering wheels have been known to 'melt'.

Puma tracking can quite easily get knocked out of alignment, and that would be a shame because the handling really is a big plus in this car.

The MoT history on our one-owner specimen is practically unblemished, with no advisories in the last six years. If you need any more encouragement to spend the piffling sum of £650, you may well have terminal cynicism. Shed is running an evening class on how to keep your cynicism supply topped up. The price for the course should have been £25 a week, but he's just doubled it and taken out some of the best bits in order to give you that feeling of vindication that you crave.

Here's the ad.

Selling my September 1998 Ford Puma in Melina Blue. One lady owner from new with full service history. Last MOT'd in August 2017 when it had new front brakes and a service. Has four new tyres in March 2016 and new cambelt and rear silencer in August 2015. A well loved car with only just over 73,500 miles on the clock. Just bought a new car, so no longer required. Runs really well. A classic of the future.

Author
Discussion

sc0tt

Original Poster:

14,705 posts

124 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
Great car. I had one ten years ago. Great gearbox and solid handling.

Best colour too

Rawwr

17,946 posts

157 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
I love Pumas. It'd be amazing if Ford released a new Puma based on the Fiesta ST.

sawman

3,772 posts

153 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
I like these, pity thats the opposite end of the country.
My wife had one exactly the same as this, we imported it from belgium.

Turbobanana

775 posts

124 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
Nope, can’t find it (the catch, that is). Great Shed.

Gary29

643 posts

22 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
I'd have that if it were closer
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MOBB

726 posts

50 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
Rawwr said:
I love Pumas. It'd be amazing if Ford released a new Puma based on the Fiesta ST.
This x1000 - I'd buy one.

I had a Millennium Puma in yellow (obviously) - one of the best cars I've had, I loved nailing down country lanes, not that fast but it felt it.

I'd have one as a toy now if it wasn't for the rust.

culpz

2,265 posts

35 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
See, i've always hated the looks of these, but that was before i realised how well received the 1.7 was, along with the gearbox, chassis and handling. £650 is an absolute steal. You'd just need to keep an eye on the rust.

hothead50

11 posts

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
Really good example of a Puma, not one failed MOT in the last 12 years.

Turbobanana

775 posts

124 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
sawman said:
I like these, pity thats the opposite end of the country.
My wife had one exactly the same as this, we imported it from belgium.
I love the irony that you mention in one sentence how the car is some distance from you, then in the next admit you imported one from Belgium...

I worked for a well-known on-line car importer back in the day and we certainly brought a lot of these in from Belgium (also The Netherlands, Spain and France).

court

1,354 posts

139 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
That's very impressive - no welding ever! I wish it were closer.

I need a petrol shed daily driver to last me 4 months till 1st March when new car arrives and there's some serious dross about. Loads of driveway traders selling lemons that they picked up at the local banger auction trying to double their money on.

mooseracer

226 posts

93 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
That looks to be serious bargain

siovey

858 posts

61 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
Ah well. I would have bought this as a daily if it was closer to me. CBA travelling for a £650 car. Nice for someone though!

generationx

1,522 posts

28 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
Love it. The only critisism I have of these is the driving position on the normal seats made you felt like you were sitting "on" the car, not "in" it, but (a) maybe that's just me and (b) this is easily solved with some RS Turbo Recaros.

I would seriously consider one of these as a nippy city runabout as they are tiny, it just makes me feel so old that they are too!

alorotom

3,026 posts

110 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
always had a massive soft spot for these ... I think these are the next big future classics if you can keep the tin worm at bay - and especially Racing variants

Richard-390a0

296 posts

14 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
That's going to be a lovely little purchase for someone if it really is as good as it appears to be!

V8 FOU

2,209 posts

70 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
What's all this "if only it wasn't so far away" bks?
I don't think I have ever bought a car less than 200 miles away.
Usual PH rubbish.
I suppose if there is a feature on the lastest hyper thing, the same people would be posting "if only I had the money" "when I win the lottery" etc etc

Brilliant Shed BTW!

anarki

382 posts

59 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
Picked up an 02 reg Puma last week. 59k on the clock, Decent history, one tiny spot of rust on one of the wheel arches, in black with the Lux pack for the sum of £600. Immediately got the cam belt done for £200 from a trusted local garage.

It is awesome and I highly recommend them as do others that have driven them.

This being a 98 model will have the smaller 240mm diameter front discs (99 onwards have 260mm discs) and I found them to be slightly weak when I drove
an earlier model. The 260mm discs/pads and calipers improve things and are a straight bolt on swap. I've gone one step further however and upgraded my 260mm standard setup to a 280mm Fiesta ST 150 setup, which again is a straight swap, discs/pads and calipers from an ST150. There are other options too which include a 300mm mondeo setup but thats a bit more of a faff.

At £650 this shed is a steal.

1781cc

98 posts

17 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
I've seen a few of these on track days going way faster then I expected them too, for someone who was new to tracking I think they would make a great starter car, especially at that price

Limpet

2,407 posts

84 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
A rust free one is a rare thing. That, and the MOT history alone make it worth the asking price.

These cars cannot get any cheaper than they are now. I'm actually half tempted by a 2002 Thunder that has just come up with 100k and a full history including a recent cambelt and clutch, but needing the rear beam bushes doing (£60 and a day's DIY) The seller is asking £300 and no takers yet!

Pumas really are a laugh to drive. Lovely, sweet engine, one of the best manual gearboxes available at any price, and genuinely entertaining handling. Sold mine in February and it was a complete shed, but still felt really good to push on in.

MOBB

726 posts

50 months

Friday 10th November
quotequote all
1781cc said:
I've seen a few of these on track days going way faster then I expected them too, for someone who was new to tracking I think they would make a great starter car, especially at that price
A friend of mine has a cheapo stripped out Puma on coilovers and track tyres, the speed you can hold onto on round bends is insane.

Final sweeping bend before the main straight at Snetterton springs to mind, not a lot this side of something serious could keep up.