Rally looks and a chassis set up by Stig Blomqvist. The Racing Puma is fast Ford royalty…
By Cam Tait / Tuesday, 3 October 2023 / Loading comments
We’ve no idea what the future of the mighty fast Ford looks like. RS as we know it is all but dead, and with the Fiesta soon to be resigned to the history books, who would bet their mortgage on the ST badge? Of course, the new Mustang will still be sold over here and who knows whether Ford will continue its performance models as we currently know them into the electric age – but for now the closest you’ll get to a hot hatch from the Blue Oval is the Puma ST.
At least Ford is leaving us with something, rather than packing in its sporty combustion models altogether and calling it a day. But while the Puma ST stands on its own two feet as a proper performance model, it isn’t the playful little rascal that the Fiesta it’s based on is. And though you might be fed up with people saying: ‘but it’s not a proper Puma’ when said ‘proper Puma’ is presented in Racing guise, you wonder why the Puma couldn’t have been revived as a Fiesta-based sports coupe like the original.
Then you remember that the regular Puma coupe was far from a qualified sales success (133,000 cars is small fry by Ford standards), while only half of the initial 1,000-strong Racing Puma production run would see the light of day. Even then, Ford had a hard time shifting them because, at £23,000 a pop, the Racing Puma was some £2,000 more expensive than the more powerful and much more practical Subaru Impreza WRX. Remember this was 1999, a year where Colin McRae and Richard Burns were battling at the front of the field in the WRC with blue Imprezas, while the Racing Puma played second fiddle to the Escort and Focus in the lower Super 1600 category.
However, the Racing Puma didn’t receive nearly the same attention from Ford as the Focus RS and Fiesta ST would. Instead, it was a proper skunkworks project, with each of the 500 UK-bound cars starting life as a boggo Pumas before being shipped off to Tickford for conversion. Once there, a substantially wider body kit was fitted that increased the width up front by nearly 100mm. The brakes, meanwhile, featured four-piston racing callipers developed by Alcon, while Ford’s motorsport division in Boreham was left to handle the suspension. And if that wasn’t enough, 1984 WRC champion Stig Blomqvist was tasked with setting up the car – mainly for track use.
So the Racing Puma was less of a heated-up version of the coupe, and closer to a road-legal version of the rally car. The Sparco sports seats that mimic the look of the latter and flashes of blue suede meant the Racing Puma looked the part both inside and out, while a Janspeed sports exhaust ensured it sounded the part, too. All versions were finished in Imperial Blue with 17-inch Speedline alloys, again linking back to the rally machine it’s closely related to.
No surprise then that values are very much on the way up. The good news is this example is on the cheaper side at £17,995 and, judging by the condition of the bodywork and interior, it’s looking mighty fresh for a car that’s covered 141,000 miles. The less good news is that, as of the time of writing, it doesn’t have an MOT and looks as though it may need a few loose ends tied up before hitting the road. The perfect winter project car? You bet.
SPECIFICATION | FORD RACING PUMA
Engine: 1,679cc four-cylinder
Transmission: five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 155@7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 119@4,500rpm
Year registered: 2000
Recorded mileage: 141,000
Price new: £23,000
Yours for: £17,995
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