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Used Ford Puma - Faster Than A Speeding Bullitt?

I always wonder just how frustrated Vincent Van Gogh must be. I mean he went though life a pauper, with none of his brushwork garnering any interest whatsoever and decided that the best way forward was to do a Doubting Thomas job on his ear and then end it all. Fast forward a few years (well and a few more) and his art is renowned and has stupid price tags attached to it left, right and centre.

He's not the first person to become more famous post-humorously either: Tupac Shakur, James Dean, Jeff Buckley and Kurt Cobain have become idolised even more so than when their hearts were whizzing along. In recent years there's been an influx in using dead famous celebrities in the world of advertising which leaves me a tad uneasy. The most recent I've noticed is Bob Monkhouse grinning down on the streets below saying that all us blokes should check our prostates or run the risk of ending up in an early wooden box like him. Don't get me wrong, it's a noble cause and Mr Monkhouse's family want to warn the rest of us but I still find it a tad weird.

What I didn't find weird however was Steve McQueen ripping up the tarmac on the San Francisco streets in a used Ford Puma. Ok, well it wasn't a used Ford in 1997, but the 11 year old advert has remained lodged in my brain ever since. To those who aren't familiar with the advert or Steve McQueen's film career a quick recap. McQueen starred in the 1968 car chase movie Bullitt where he played a detective that did some police stuff before capping the film off with the epic and now legendary car chase through San Fran. Ford ingeniously used footage from the film and spliced it with the Puma charging around a modern day San Francisco like a child that's had too many sweets.

In one fell swoop Ford announced that the Puma was a real driver's car. After all if the ghost of Steve McQueen found it enjoyable then wouldn't we all? Well yes actually, the Puma was a hit and when the popular coupe was put to bed in 2002 it was sorely missed. Thankfully a used Ford Puma is relatively easy to come by and you can pick up an early example from as little as £1500, up to £4000 for a 2002 version.

Despite being built on a Fiesta chassis the Puma handles really rather well and coupled with a high revving engine developed in conjunction with Yamaha, it's quite a nippy car. Engine choices were initially restricted to a 1.7 litre unit producing 123bhp. Later models were also offered with a 1.4 litre engine which despite only developing 89bhp doesn't seem sluggish, before Ford settled on a slightly more powerful 1.6 litre engine in 2000.

The styling was radical at the time, with the Puma being one of Ford's first 'New edge' look vehicles. The best way to describe the Puma is like a cuddly bubble, although if you're a male driving it you won't look ridiculous. Even 11 years on it competes well with the current crop of coupes and a good example will just keep on running for years to come.

Inside the Puma offers good head and legroom for a car its size. It also has sports seats which are vital in keeping you glued to behind the steering wheel as the Puma can be thrown around corners like cars twice its original price.

Oddly buying a low mileage example may not be your best bet. The Puma has special cylinder linings on its 1.7 litre Zetec engine meaning that wear is high if incorrect oil is used. Likewise if the car has been used for short journeys on a cold engine, wear will be dramatically accelerated. So avoid cars that have stood still on a driveway and ensure regular oil changes have been made - no more than 10,000 miles between each. Other than the above, as with all used Fords, the Puma is cheap to repair and service and any minor niggles shouldn't cause an expensive headache.

Finally for your consideration, there is the ultra exclusive Racing Edition that was limited to 500 cars. This version came complete with 154bhp, a wide arch body kit and huge alloy wheels. Expect to pay nearer £6000 for an eight-year old version but be warned if you find one in good condition Steve McQueen may very well come and haunt you for the keys.

About The Author Kevin Creese is an automotive author currently working to promote Sandicliffe a used Ford dealer based in the East Midlands. Kevin is currently based in Nottingham in the heart of the East Midlands.
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