The Ford Puma was introduced in the UK in 1997 to mostly rave reviews and production ended just five years later in 2002. The Puma proved that a large car manufacturer like Ford could produce a winning and affused Ford ordable sports car, something that was very much in doubt at the time due to several false dawns. Although most reviews were extremely favourable, a minority of critics hated the Puma's appearance and considered it a fairly 'middle of the road' addition to the Ford range, based as it was on the humble Fiesta. Most of this hostility has now passed and the Puma is well on its way to becoming a classic in its own right.
The original release had a 1.7 litre 123bhp engine and was joined in February 1998 by a 1.4 litre version. No automatic Pumas were ever offered in Europe.
In early 2000, a stunning limited edition mode known as the Racing was released. The Racing had a 148bhp 1.7 engine and improved suspension, flared wheel arches and several other added bonuses provided as standard. Only 350 of these minor classics were ever made and they rarely appear on the market. When they do they are snapped up fast.
Late 2000 saw the 1.4 litre version replaced by a punchier 1.6 litre model. Towards the end of 2001 the Puma went out with a bang as Ford let loose the Ford Puma Thunder.
Bang for your buck
The used Ford Puma is a head turner so don't get one if you are the shy and retiring type. It looks every inch the sports coupé but also nods towards practicality, fairly comfortably seating two passengers in the rear. That won't leave a lot of luggage room though but with the rear seats folded you get a very reasonable 240 litres of suitcase space.
The cheap Ford Puma features several pleasing details which add to its charm and sports car feel. The fascia and doors are all trimmed in aluminium and the gear knob consists of a single cast lump of the same material. The Racing also has aluminium trimmed pedals. The white-faced instrument dials are also a cool addition. There are lots of thoughtful practical touches such as the full sized bottle holders either side of the two rear passengers' legs and the mobile phone holder in the central console.
Remote central locking, electric windows with security alarm, driver's air bag and a decent hifi system were all provided as standard. Air conditioning was only provided as standard with the Racing but cost just £360 to be added to all other models.
What you'll pay
Early 1997 1.4 litre Ford Puma models start at around £2795 but are fairly rare on the second hand market. More common are 1.4 litre 99 plates, available from around £2975 and 2000s for about £3275. 1.7 litre versions start at around £3000.
The 1.6 litre can be bought for as little as £3140. Second hand Ford Puma Racings are hard to come by so it's hard to give an idea of what they may cost, as an indication though, they cost £22820 new.
What to check
New headlights for used Pumas are notoriously expensive so check them well before purchase. Also check for exterior damage and repairs and try to ascertain if the car has been thrashed or not. There are no known common faults with Puma engines.
Replacement parts for used Ford Pumas are not cheap but neither are they the most expensive in the world. An entire exhaust system will set you back £415, a clutch assembly just £70. Rear and front brake pads will cost £40 to £50 each. A replacement headlamp can be as much as £260, more than a new radiator (£95), alternator (£140) and starter motor (£110).
How it drives
Well. Very well. Ford employed the services of Formula One legend Jackie Stewart to work on the Puma's road handling and it shows. Many pundits consider the Puma to be the best small coupé ever made.
The 123 bhp 1.7 litre Zetec will do nought to sixty in 8.8 seconds and top out at 130 miles per hour. The 1.4 reaches the same mark in a respectable 10.8 seconds and will do 38 miles per gallon.
If you are lucky enough to find a Racing you will reach 60 miles per hour in just 7.5 seconds and average about 34 miles per gallon.