I'm a Ford man, my first car was a Ford and some of my favourite cars are Fords but it's been a few years since I've actually owned one (aside from a brief stint in a Ford Streetka, coming soon...) and now the time has come where I'm hoping to slip into another oval.
My next Ford is rather special and a fairly interesting cult-car by its own merit - The Ford Racing Puma. The standard Puma was an absolute sensation, built upon the humble Ford Fiesta floorpan/chassis with - in summary - better suspension, a revvy 1.7 VCT engine worked on by Yamaha and a very, very pretty small coupe body. Further to this it came with several options such as heated front and rear screens, leather seats, alloy wheels, air conditioning. heated and electrically operated mirrors., ABS, traction control, electric windows and more. All these features and a pretty face for the price of a well 'specced Ford Fiesta.... It sold fantastically well as a 'part time' car between the Fiesta and Focus.
Soon after, a concept race car was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in 1999... An intimidating wide bodied Puma labelled the Puma RS capturing Ford's racing and rallying heritage. It was beautiful to behold and a promising concept car... And then unusually for concept cars it was released to the public, designed in Boreham and brought to life by Tickford as a limited run of 1,000 - 500 for the UK, 500 for Germany.
And now here I am, subscribed to every search, every forum and classified section on the interweb looking to buy my first Performance Ford. After years of yearning to own one, watching some bargains pass me buy as I simply didn't have the money or already had a few too many cars on the drive I now have the money and space for one... And typically they're all tucked away either by collectors, enthusiasts or awful people who tease me with "I may sell come January".
Now I will admit I also want a TVR Chimaera or a Vauxhall VX220 but the Racing Puma is one of my bucket list cars. Why? Because there was a time after university where I wasn't in the best financial position, I couldn't afford to run my beloved MX5 and couldn't bare to part with it. So I saw a Puma come up for sale for £500 in Cardiff, high miles, a bit poor condition wise but the engine had basically gone through a rebuild which tempted me. I met it and bought it, where it instantly overheated and fell apart... So once I got it home I fixed it and enjoyed it for a week before it broke again - catastrophic brake failure when I did an emergency stop for a Daewoo Matiz who couldn't decide if it was turning into a junction or not.
For a few months after that when it worked it was one of the most enjoyable driving experiences I've had in a front-wheel drive car, it was simply wonderful in terms of handling, dynamics and fun. All the toys you could get in a luxury car but it cost me pennies to own and run. Soon after I gained employment and sold it. Since selling it in 2012 I always wanted another Ford Puma but they were a bit long in the tooth and a tidy Ford Puma Thunder was hard to come by so I gave up on the idea completely. Even after vising an interesting WRC/S1600 wide bodied puma but the paint and body condition was so poor I could read the engine identification number through the bonnet, one trip to Norfolk I won't forget.
The Puma spirit if you will never went away and now I want a Racing Puma, and I know as soon as I see one I wouldn't need a test drive to know I wanted it. The biggest challenge right now is finding someone willing to part with one - naturally there's been one or two but they've all been sold by dealers wanting a small fortune for their fairly poor conditioned Racing Pumas and as a result have been on sale for months - says it all. If you're reading this drivel and happen to own a Racing Puma, please get in touch I'd love to hear your experiences and any advice you have to share.