PH Fleet Update: Ford Puma

Rather like someone entering a new relationship, having previously been cheated on, I've been finding it hard to trust my new automotive squeeze, the former Shed of the Week Puma and latest addition to the PH Fleet.

But it's not the sleek silver coupe's fault, oh no - I blame the gentle disintegration of the head gasket on and subsequent scrapping of my previous runaround, an E36 BMW 328i Touring, for my trust issues. Despite (touch wood) an entirely reliable performance from the Puma, I still find myself breathing a tiny sigh of relief when it starts up, or when I complete a journey, while even the tiniest unusual noise from suspension, drivetrain or engine has had my heart thumping.

Mind you, the Puma hasn't been entirely blameless. A few weeks into my time with the car, after a particularly spirited (and thoroughly brilliant) drive down the Meon Valley (A32, Hampshire - highly recommended), the water temperature gauge began to throw a miniature wobbly. For a chap now hyper-sensitive to symptoms of head-gasket death this was particularly worrying.

But despite periodically shooting to near the red section on the dial, the needle never actually hit the danger zone. So I wasn't too worried about it being head gasket-related (especially since the previous owner head that done less than 5000 miles ago). But the car did begin to smell very hot. Worrying. A quick trip to the local spanner-wielder would clearly be required.

I duly dropped it off with the affable chaps at S&J Motors just down the road from PH's Teddington HQ. Having spent the morning with the car they called me and, to my great relief, declared that it was definitely not the head gasket - nor even a dicky thermostat - but nothing more than some bubbles in the cooling system.

Better still, the wallet damage for half an hour or so of labour and a few hundred millilitres of coolant was less than £30. Yes, a competent chap could probably have done that himself, but I wouldn't even count myself as half-competent mechanically, so I was pretty chuffed with the result.

Since then, the little Puma has performed faultlessly, though an occasionally crashy ride on the front left reminds me that the suspension on these cars is a little weak, and a whining clutch bearing plate reminds me that the clutch is a little elderly. Still, what do you expect on a 105k-mile car?

But despite the clonks and whines I'm beginning to learn to trust AX51 GGA a little more - the only thing now is to prevent the onset of rotting rear arches, the first trace of which is beginning to rear its rusty head...

Rust - how to stop it?
Rust - how to stop it?
...Answers on a virtual postcard, please
...Answers on a virtual postcard, please


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Comments (73) Join the discussion on the forum

  • RoseyG21 02 Nov 2011

    Good write up Riggers. I have always fancied a Puma 1.7 and its good to read about ownership of a 'well used' example!

    As for the rust...i would have thought some wire wool/file type treatment then some sort of halfords rust prevention oil stuff plus paint etc would stop the rot?

    I am very much a bodge tape man though! I await the more handy bods opinions...

  • jakesmith 02 Nov 2011

    Looks like a fun little disposable go-kart to me!!

  • MiltonRX 02 Nov 2011

    Cheers for the update Riggers.

    I was just thinking this morning what I could persuade SWMBO to change her 1.0 Corsa for as I'm using it as a daily driver at the moment (and for the foreseable future).

    I'm taking this story as a sign that I should aim for a Puma as I can't think of much else that could compete at sub £2k. I'm guessing it wouldn't be much worse mpg wise?

    Anyone got any other tips for convincing her?

  • buzzeh123 02 Nov 2011

    Lovely little cars, great handling down the twistys. Shame about the arches but that happens on pretty much all fords.

    The 1.7 engine is really good when you ring its neck, so much so ive got a 140bhp one in my mk5 fiesta! makes it a right laugh smile

  • JohnGoodridge 02 Nov 2011

    Great to hear your experience; these are such great value, very tempted.

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