Cat in the Wild: Can you Off-Road a Ford Puma?

ClassicCarsForSale's Calum Brown gets a hold of Classic Car Weekly's £500 Ford Puma to try something a bit different. 

Words: Calum Brown
Photography: Gillian Carmoodie

Being introduced to the Classic Car Weekly Ford Puma was a tad laughable after all the beefy talk it’s caused in the office. It’s difficult to understand why it has become the apple in CCW features editor David Simister’s eye. He’s driven E-types, Ferraris and the odd Bentley - so what was the deal with this disappointing piece of plastic tat? It feels badly made, the interior is cheap and nasty, the ride is more uncomfortable than a sex talk with your Grandparents and the cabin space is lacking in the same way Eric Pickles lacks vitamin C.

When out on the open road the gearbox feels stodgy and fat, despite being overly sensitive in the pedal department the brakes mash like wet cardboard and the wind noise makes my old Mini Mayfair appear sedate and well behaved. It doesn’t even have a practical boot, and the looks are so sickly and perfumed that the smart silver paintwork can’t save the aesthetics from its flatulent, boppy-teenager image. That may appeal to some, but sadly I don’t understand any of it.

If it was light on fuel and generally economical then I could throw some compliments the Puma’s way - but after only 40 miles it chomped through quarter of a tank, and that was without abusing the accelerator in the slightest. I couldn’t even forgive it for being only £500, as that could secure you something realistic and characterful. I can admit, however, that the handling and balance are quite excitable, even if the performance from the 1.4-litre is gutless despite the screaming engine noise. It's so high pitched that local dogs in the area were probably doing backflips. 

Notwithstanding the chuckability, the Puma remains a hateful car. Which is why I decided to punish it for being so downright unfathomable.  I found the nearest Greenlane and lined the pithy hairdresser’s car up for a journey up the dirt track, in as rough a manner as Catherine Trammel would enjoy. 

The first obstacle was a cattle grid, where the suspension clanked and wallowed in a manner befitting spanners in a cement mixer, leaving me with the distinct impression that the Puma wasn’t going to enjoy itself very much over the next two miles. It coped with the mellow potholes admirably at low speed, but as the pits in the ground enlarged, the front valance clipped the unkempt rutted lips in quick succession. 

Having driven this track before, I knew the floorpan would be destroyed if the Puma found itself already struggling with the easy stuff. So, the route was altered to mount the nearby ridge of grass and continue onwards. Except, the Puma didn’t think so.

As soon as the tyres met the grass, momentum stopped immediately. The sound of spinning wheels on pasture whirred into the eardrums of all those nearby, including some lads on a quad bike who stared with curiosity as a handbag car scrambled to push forth into the wilderness. It took three attempts just to get the Ford up a slight grassy incline, which did not bode well for the next segment.

It had rained earlier in the day, leaving one particular section of the greenlane in a bog like state. My Allegro had coped with this last year and escaped out the other side without damage, but the Puma? It triumphantly blared a short exhaust note before flailing uselessly in a dank puddle and filling the vicinity with a burning smell Joan of Ark could be proud of. It clearly wasn’t going any further without self-harming.      

Clattering back onto the tarmac and heading home, I was finally able to find something I liked about the Puma. Giving it back.  Perhaps a David Simister style B-road blast in the near future would sway my opinion, but for now, I simply don’t understand Ford’s attempt to produce the most impractical city car of the 1990s. I can also exclusively reveal that, off the beaten track, the Puma is useless. But you probably guessed that already... 

 

  

Recently Added

Placeholder cbe6c9521c21456cf9170dc847e3e1de3931371c967e81955c16862b992b5364Sponsored Ad
2001
£Auction
  • 44,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1107553
The Rover 45 Club offered here is described by the vendor to be in excellent condition with many ext
0
02381 247 805
View details
50083 1Sponsored Ad
2000
£Auction
55 AMG
  • 73,500
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1106025
![CDATA[Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG was a game-changing super saloon with a very reliable, hand-built s...
9
01753 437 779
View details
62ab0dfe 4fe8 4d81 821f e176c0921dcbSponsored Ad
1974
£9,690
3500 S Manual
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1105451
1974 Rover P6 3500S Manual Finished in Almond and Dark Brown Vinyl Roof with Black Leather. A gre...
14
01626244206
View details
Img 2734Sponsored Ad
2003
£16,990
R
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1079726
2003 Jaguar XKR Convertible BLACK RECARO
22
01626244206
View details
56ce7851 490d 4312 82e8 16b27e2b0448Sponsored Ad
1971
£7,390
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1105410
We are delighted to offer this beautiful 1971 Mgb Gt inset Grill Model. Finished in very rare and...
31
01626244206
View details
6f43bf04 d9a0 4a5a a53e 403fcf2712ddSponsored Ad
1991
£25,990
TURBO S CABRIOLET
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1099340
1991 PORSCHE 944 TURBO S CABRIOLET Finished in Alpine White with Cobalt Blue Leather Interior and...
31
01626244206
View details
C2f4326e 83d9 4c50 add3 d77f0c8c9fdbSponsored Ad
1973
£7,390
Manual with Overdrive
  • 43,500
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1101322
1973 Mgb Gt 4 Speed Manual with Overdrive Finished in Red with Black Trim Restored Several Years ...
21
01626244206
View details
B81c2591 ab55 4e2f a315 e22eb5b72080Sponsored Ad
1972
£14,990
Manual Overdrive
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1105679
1972 Triumph Stag 4 Speed Manual with Overdrive Finished in Pimento Red We are pleased to offer t...
22
01626244206
View details
B39f49f8 cb76 4758 9e11 e2f3669a1c4dSponsored Ad
1972
£14,990
Manual with Overdrive
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1105276
1972 Triumph Stag 4 Speed Manual with Overdrive Finished in Pimento Red We are pleased to offer t...
23
01626244206
View details
P1230040 1Sponsored Ad
2000
£14,495
LAST EDITION
  • 14,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1106989
2000 X Rover Mini Cooper Last Edition In popular Tahiti Blue and White. This mini was bought as a...
2
07967135037
View details
See All Classic Cars for Sale