Ford Puma: Europe's Quirky Little Sports Coupe
In 1997, Ford developed a quirky little sports coupe that we never thought we'd see from the American automaker. It was called the Puma, and it was a Europe-only, two-door built in Germany. It sold anywhere in Europe from £12,280 to £22,945, (about $19,750 to $36,900 currently) depending on the model selected. No matter the trim, every Ford Puma was a front-engined, front-wheel-drive, 3-door coupe with 4 seats that was based on the Ford Fiesta. Although based on the Fiesta, it had a new body, stiffer suspension, close-ratio gearbox, and a variety of new engines. RELATED: See Photos of the Bold 2014 Ford Fiesta ST GRC
There were a total of four engine options in the Puma starting with a 1.4 liter that was available from 1997-2000 only and a 1.6 liter that was available only from 2000-2001. There was also a 1.7-liter VCT and a Tickford tuned 1.7 liter VCT that was only used for the Ford Racing Puma. Both 1.7-liter engines used Nikasil cylinder plating, which required 5W30 semi-synthetic to reduce mechanical wear and came with low speed traction control and anti-lock brakes.
According to Wikipedia, four limited edition versions of the Puma were released in the UK beginning with the 1000 unit Millennium in 1999. It commemorated the Millennium Products Award from the Design Council as 'The first Ford in Britain designed solely on computer and in record time.' Three more limited editions followed beginning in 2000.
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The 1600 unit Black aptly featured a Midnight Black leather interior and Panther Black paintwork. It was originally intended to be made in just 1000 units, but was so popular they extended that run. Next came the Thunder with 1000 each in Magnum Gray and Moondust Silver and marked some of the last Pumas to roll off the production line.
The final limited edition was the Ford Racing Puma, first available in 1999, and the most limited of the lot with just 500 units. Each was numbered on the manifold and carried a hefty price of £23,000 ($37,000 in current day currency) which may explain why consumers only bought about half of the production run. The rest were offered to senior managers through Ford's MRC scheme.
Puma production ended in 2001 with a big handful of them being sold in Europe. It looked good and it was fun. Who knows? Maybe Ford will decide to resurrect this often forgotten nameplate.
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