I put my max budget and distance I could reasonably travel to quickly in to AutoTrader and started looking. There were the usual Corsas and Fiestas etc but the little Puma caught my eye. I’d passengered in a couple and read favourable reviews in the past so I decided to check it out.
Initial impressions weren’t good; in fact I decided pretty much straight away I wasn’t having it. The lacquer was peeling off the driver’s door and it had the (usual I’ve since found out) rust coming through on the rear arches. I’d travelled 40 miles to see it so I thought I may as well take it for a drive to give me an idea of what I’m looking at if I see another. I think I drove it at least a mile before turning around to start dealing! Even in that short drive the car just felt so right, from the driving position to the precise gearshift and the revvy 1.7 motor that propelled the car far quicker than it had any right too; I was hooked!
I put on my best poker face and asked the guy what his best price was; he replied by asking my how much it was up for on the website! It was up for £1200 so I did the natural thing and told him £1000!, Well if he didn’t know… After a bit of haggling I got him to tax it for the year; well, I’d already got £200 off so I didn’t want to push it.
On the drive home I noticed it was pulling to the left so took it to get aligned. The guy said the alignment was way out (common to Pumas apparently) but the reason it was pulling was the left front was a remould. Two new Toyos later and the handling had stepped up to another level. I’ve had faster and considerably more expensive cars in the past but this little thing is a riot! Driving along country lanes where I live, there are none of my previous cars that could hope to match the pace it can maintain; corners can be taken at ludicrous speeds and it just grips and goes!
Not long into ownership and it was time to test the traction control, after a night in Sedgefield I awoke to find a snow Puma! A good 6 inches had fallen trough the night and the roads were a nightmare. Fortunately the Puma did a valiant effort in reigning in its power and finding grip! I don’t think I’d have made it to the motorway without it and the slightest hint of throttle had the wheels trying to spin. First time I’ve seen an artic lorry slide too!
I’m known for changing my cars frequently but I think I’ve met my match with the little Puma; I mean, what else could you get for a grand that could match it in terms of handling and fun? The only car I can think of, and indeed what a few Puma owners have gone to, is an Elise but I can’t see them changing hands for a grand any time soon!