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Ford Puma & Racing Puma: Buying guide and review (1997-2001)

Ford Puma & Racing Puma: Buying guide and review (1997-2001) Classic and Performance Car
Ford Racing Puma Ford Racing Puma Ford Racing Puma Ford Puma Ford Puma Ford Puma Ford Puma Ford Puma
“Pros: Everything. Cons: Nothing” – for years, evo Magazine’s brief but glowing summation of the Ford Puma 1.7 found in The Knowledge. Even today, it gives a pretty accurate description of what a great car the bargain coupe really is. 
 
Based on the fine-handling Mark 4 Fiesta, the Puma gained firmer suspension, a wider track and tweaked versions of Ford’s Sigma engines. The result was a sharp, playful chassis, which combined with the revvy engines and an undeniably pretty coupe body, made it one of the most desirable cars available at the time.
 
It was affordable, too. Sharing so much with the Fiesta (much like the chassis, the dashboard design was near-identical too) kept prices low: costing £14,550 back in 1997, the Puma was cheaper than the slower, more stale Vauxhall Tigra and the similarly-performing yet less exciting Renault Megane Coupe 2.0-litre. 
 
At the time, it also featured in one of the most memorable Bullitt-themed adverts. Shot on location in San Francisco, parts of the iconic Steve McQueen car chase were the superimposed using cutting-edge computer generated graphics. 
 
That price along with the Puma’s almost universally-glowing reviews helped ensure it became a great sales success for Ford. As a result, prospective buyers today are left with plenty of choice on the used market.
 

Which Puma to buy?

 
From its 1997 launch, the Puma was sold with a 1.7-litre engine, and six months later it was joined by a smaller 1.4 lump offering 90bhp. Unless insurance costs are a deal-breaker, we’d go for the larger engine – both are more than willing, but the 1.7’s extra shove (at 123bhp it has 33bhp more, not to mention an extra 24lb ft) makes it the more exciting drive. A 1.6-litre model replaced the 1.4 in October 2000, and its additional 10bhp helped to cut the 0-62mph time to from 10.8 seconds to 10 seconds flat.
 
Several trim level special editions were sold during the Puma’s life, including the Millennium (Zinc Yellow paint and dark blue leather Recaros) the Black (Panther Black paint, black leather, unique alloy wheels) and the Thunder (Magnum Grey or Moondust Silver paint, black leather, multispoke alloys and a six-disc CD changer.)
 
The rarest and most sought-after is the Racing Puma. Much more than a simple styling exercise, the FRP was developed by engineers from Ford’s rally team and finished by tuners Tickford. Wide arches help to accommodate a 70mm-wider track, while the more aggressive front bumper gains a deep splitter. 
 
Lightweight Speedline Turini alloys measure 17” in diameter and sit ahead of Alcon brakes, featuring discs (295mm at the front, 270mm rear) clamped by four-piston calipers. Handling was sharpened thanks to stiffer springs, and a limited-slip differential was optionally available from the factory. The standard 1.7-litre engine’s power output climbed to 152bhp (a 30bhp increase) courtesy of revised camshafts, uprated intake and exhaust systems and a tweaked ECU, good for a 7.9-second 0-62mph time. All 500 Racing Pumas were finished in Imperial Blue Metallic – a colour shared with the Escort Cosworth. 
 
With approximately 8000 Pumas still registered on UK roads today there’s plenty of choice out there, so don’t jump into the first example you find. Firstly, you must consider what your plans are for the car. If you’re just looking for some cheap fun, or perhaps even a track car, then you can afford to be less picky. Finding something intended for long-term classic ownership however might take some harder searching. 
 
The biggest killer is rust – particularly around the rear wheelarches. Much like the contemporary Ka and Fiesta, all but the most pampered examples will be showing some signs of corrosion. Given the car’s current values, it isn’t really economical to fix the rot. Best to find the cleanest car possible, then.
 

Performance and specs

 

Engine  1679cc inline four
Power 123bhp @ 6300rpm  
Torque 116lb ft
Transmission Five-speed manual
0-62mph 9.2secs
Top speed 126mph
Insurance group   21
Fuel consumption  38mpg
Price when new  £14,725
 

Dimensions and weight


Wheelbase              2446mm
Length 3984mm
Width 1837mm
Height 1315mm
Weight 1035kg
  

Common problems

 
• The Puma’s body has an infamous reputation for rusting. Rear wheelarches in particular are known to rot from the inside out. Check for bubbling below the door sill, both rear wheel arches and around the fuel filler cap. Any corrosion here, although not unusual, could indicate further structural rot in the chassis rails and along the underside. Approach with caution. 
 
• The thermostat-mounted temperature sensor can give off inconsistent readings, which has been known to contribute to overheating issues. It’s also common for the thermostat itself to become stuck open or closed, leading to cooling issues. 
 
• The 1.7-litre engine, co-developed with Yamaha, is somewhat fussy when it comes to oil. Ensure it’s filled with fresh 5W30 semi-synthetic to ensure the best running
 
• The throttle position sensor is another part which can cause issues, manifesting in a hesitant throttle, poor idling, and kangarooing at low revs. Replacements cost £30-£40, so it’s not a disaster to discover a Puma misbehaving in this way on a test drive
 
• The Racing Puma’s braking system was developed by Alcon, and although extremely effective thanks to race-spec four-pot calipers, needs frequent servicing to ensure that dirt from the road doesn’t foul the caliper pistons. If not serviced and cleaned out at regular intervals, the calipers can corrode and in some cases will become corroded beyond repair. 
 
• Like the regular model the Racing Puma can suffer from various corrosion issues, with rear arches complicated further by the way the wide rear bodywork extensions were attached to the car. Check the boot floor, as this area was never adequately protected from the factory. 
 
• Front wings are aluminium so don’t rust, but replacements are unavailable if they do get damaged. Everything unique to the FRP is incredibly expensive, and almost certainly no longer available new, such as the fibreglass front and rear bumpers. 
 

Model History

 
1997: Ford Puma launched
1999: Puma Millenium special edition offered unique yellow paint and a full leather interior. 1000 produced
Nov 1999: Racing Puma sales commence. 500 units produced in total
2000: Ford Puma Thunder released. Featured a choice of metallic grey or silver paint, black leather and Fiesta Zetec S-aping alloy wheels
2000: Ford Puma Black edition released. Features Black paint and leather interior, plus unique alloy wheels
Oct 2000: 1.6-litre petrol engine replaces 1.4
2001: Puma production ceases, though some cars were registered in 2002
 

Owners clubs, forums and websites

 
• www.projectpuma.com
• www.fordownersclub.com
• www.pumapeople.com
• pumabuild.com
 

Summary and prices

 
Due to the sheer numbers available, values for the bulk of the Puma range remain incredibly low. High mileage and almost certainly rusty – yet working – examples are available for barely £300. If you’re searching for a regular 1.7 in the finest corrosion-free condition, it’s unlikely you'll need to fork out much more than £2500. 
 
With so many parts shared with the Fiesta, service and perishable parts are cheap. Brand name tyres for the standard 15-inch tyres should only cost £60-£80 per corner, while a set of front brake discs and pads cost less than £40. If maintained, the Puma is actually pretty reliable, and you should only have to worry about big costs if you do need to undertake bodywork repairs. 
 
Due to their rarity and desirability, Racing Pumas are in a different league. This is a hardcore enthusiast machine, and one that is worth significantly more, even if it’s actually still relatively affordable in comparison to many other Fast Fords. After settling around £5000 for several years, currently FRPs are beginning their steady climb beyond the £10,000 mark. As with all classic Fords, originality is key to value, but super-low mileage examples are rare and extremely valuable. 
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Last updated: 15th May 2018
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Ford Puma
375 2695 GBP
  • Ford Puma 2001offers for quick sale

    £375 £375

    Clen and tidy except for billing around wheel arch Leather seats alloys wheels Offers for quick sale due to no tax and parked on the road Not 5th August 2018 Can deliver Viewing welcome first to see will buy

    • Mileage: 114000 mi
    • Engine size: 1679
    For sale
    £375 £375
    FridayAd
  • Ford Puma thunder 2001 1.7 zetec se open to offers

    £375 £375

    Clean and tidy in side and out except for bubbling around wheel arch Fun car to drive;brought for stop gap  Open to offers for quick sale as parked on the road with no tax Viewing welcome first to see will buy Can deliver if you have trouble gettin to me Any questions Short not 5th August 2018 Sony Bluetooth usb radio

    • Engine size: 1679
    For sale
    £375 £375
  • Ford Puma

    £1,025 £1,025

    Full Leather, Power Steering, Remote Central Locking, Immobiliser, ABS, Air Bag, Electric Windows, Radio, CD Player, Metallic Paintwork, Alloy wheels, Full service history Superb Ford Puma THUNDER with a FMDSH! Some minor bodywork required but amazing service history and MOT until December 2018!

    • Mileage: 76500 mi
    • Engine size: 1679
    For sale
    £1,025 £1,025
  • Ford Puma

    £1,995 £1,995

    Air Conditioning, Full Leather, Alarm, Immobiliser, Remote Central Locking, Sports Seats, Power Steering, ABS, Multiple Airbags, Quick-Clear Screen, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, CD Player, Radio Bad credit finance, low rate finance and part exchange are all available subject to status. Terms and conditions apply. This Ford Puma 1.7 Coupe Millennium Limited Edition is finished in metallic silver. Features include recaro leather seats, cd player, air conditioning, quickclear windscreen and alloy wheels. Please contact for any further information.

    • Mileage: 109000 mi
    • Engine size: 1679
    For sale
    £1,995 £1,995
  • Ford Puma

    £2,695 £2,695

    *SIMILAR QUALITY CARS ALWAYS REQUIRED* SOLD Thinking of selling? Our proven commission sale or SOR (Sale or Return) program is a great way to utilise and access our professional services and facilities while still maximising the return from your vehicle with minimal hassle, stress and time, If you’d like to take advantage of this then please get in touch for further information. Alternatively If you’d like to move your vehicle on quickly and efficiently with minimal delay then we can make an offer on an outright purchase basis with payment and collection arranged soon after. A fabulous Ford Puma 1.7 with one owner, 52,882 miles and full Ford history. EQUIPMENT Front air dam, front aerodynamic spoiler, colour coded door mirrors, headlamp system with three projector lamps, tinted glass, rear quarter light Puma emblems, variable ratio power assisted steering, traction control, driver airbag, pyrotechnic front seat belt tensioners, aluminium finish interior, leather sports steering wheel, Ford 5000 RDS stereo system. Factory options; Air conditioning, metallic paint. EXTERIOR Finished in the factory optional launch colour of Moondust Silver, (Code 61), this example is identical to the car used in the iconic and award winning Steve McQueen Bullitt recreation TV advert. The stunning Ford ‘New Edge’ lines of the Puma seem to defy their age and the paintwork boasts a bright polished shine and uniform finish with only minor age related markings. The often troublesome rear arches are remarkably rust free, although there are a few tiny touched in stone chips on the bonnet and nearside door. The original supplying dealer number plates remain fitted along with the rear screen sticker. The trim sections and badges are excellent and the styled lighting units are original and remain crystal clear. Strictly garaged by the only owner from new, this stylish and chic Ford coupe is very rarely seen in such preserved condition. INTERIOR The sporty feel of the Ford Puma certainly continues one inside the snug cockpit which somehow manages to offer space and comfort for front seat occupants whilst not losing the sports car sensation. The original Chrome/Twill trim, (Code VJ), is superb with the spotlessly clean seats free from wear or damage. The low mileage credentials are clear to see in the preserved carpets and steering wheel leather sides, usually worn on most examples, which are excellent. The controls and switchgear are as new and all functions operate perfectly, including the optional air conditioning. The immaculate luggage area displays factory build stickers to the boot floor and both the parcel shelf and carpet are perfect. A well-made and lovingly protected interior, complete with the new Ford smell! ENGINE & TRANSMISSION Co-developed with Yamaha, the Puma’s 1.7-litre engine was the first Ford to use variable camshaft timing, (VCT). The power delivery is incredibly flexible and energetic with 85 per cent of peak torque being available at just 1500rpm. The air induction system is tuned for a raspier sound and combined with a free revving engine this power plant is immensely rewarding. Ford Main Dealer maintained from new this engine is eager to please, and housed in a pristine engine compartment displaying factory plates, stickers and original panel stampings. The standard IB5 close-ratio sports gearbox is precise, short and impeccably weighted working in perfect harmony with the driver. A true driver’s car. WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES The distinctive and instantly recognisable Ford Puma ‘Fan Blade’ alloy wheels are original and in excellent order with only one touched in mark and light curb scratches and to the front nearside rim only. All four tyres are quality brand 195/50 R15 with excellent tread levels. Servo assisted anti-lock brakes with vented front discs and Electronic Brake Force Distribution provide safe stopping power. HISTORY FILE Supplied by Ford Main Dealers Gowrings of Bracknell on the 28th September 1999, this incredible example has covered just 52,882 miles with one owner from new. A new car sales invoice in the history file made out to Mrs Marie Hamilton confirms a price paid of £15,565 including optional air conditioning and a part exchange allowance of £1,600 for her 1991 Fiesta. This beautiful Puma has been Mrs Hamilton’s pride and joy ever since and she insisted that only the Ford Main Dealer maintain her car, an assertion she upheld throughout. The full Ford Main Dealer service history includes the original stamped service booklet with supporting invoices, documented cambelt change and all previous MOT certificates to fully verify the mileage. The blue Ford document wallet contains the owner’s manual, radio guides, security codes and point of sale literature. There are two original Ford keys with dealer fob. Upon launch in 1997, the Puma boldly hit the market with huge fanfare and instantly won Top Gear Car of the Year 1997 and advertising industry awards for the Steve McQueen television adverts. To drive this low mileage and well maintained example, it is clear to see why the Puma was an instant hit from Ford and now fast becoming very collectable. MOT May 2018, HPI Clear. To see a video of this car please copy the link below: https://youtu.be/8oe1snfz5lU To see a full set of photographs of this car please copy the link below: https://flic.kr/s/aHskZJm1xL 'Like us' or 'Follow us' for exciting new cars coming soon at KGF Classic Cars: https://www.facebook.com/KGFClassiccars https://twitter.com/KGFClassicCars

    • Year: 1999
    • Mileage: 52882 mi
    • Engine size: 1.7
    For sale
    £2,695 £2,695