£500 Chal­lenge

The £500 chal­lenge may be over, but for the Puma it con­tin­ues – at least un­til it passes an MoT…

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week -

Ford Puma

THE STORY SO FAR Miles driven 0 To­tal mileage 58,696 What’s gone wrong It’s failed it’s MoT – there’s a fair bit of work to do

CHRIS HOPE Two out of three ain’t bad. Just over 12 months ago we em­barked upon the am­bi­tious ex­per­i­ment of run­ning not just one, but three very dif­fer­ent, yet equally in­ter­est­ing cars that we bought for less than £500 each. We’ve had our fun and now it’s time to move them on to new homes, but be­fore do­ing so, we wanted to make sure each of our bar­gain buys has a brand-new MoT.

The MG ZR was awarded a pass, and – with a bit of fet­tling – so was the Mercedes-Benz S280. The Puma, on the other hand, failed its in­spec­tion.

It’s racked up more than 10,000 miles in less than ten months, trav­el­ling the length and breadth of Bri­tain and be­yond, so it’s hardly sur­pris­ing our 17-year old mod­ern clas­sic has de­vel­oped a fault or two.

Of the rea­sons given for its MoT fail, po­ten­tially the big­gest stum­bling block is that the rear brake pipe is ex­ces­sively cor­roded. We reckon fit­ting cop­per re­place­ments rather than like-for-like steel is a bet­ter bet for keep­ing X147 OBV on the road.

Mean­while, the park­ing brake no longer seems to be work­ing – we reckon that this is as a re­sult ei­ther of the mech­a­nism seiz­ing or the ca­ble snap­ping. This we can at least in­ves­ti­gate our­selves, though we’ll have to re­move the brake drums in or­der to do so. We’ll re­port back with our find­ings soon.

There’s also ex­ces­sive move­ment in the rear suspension, caused by de­te­ri­o­rated suspension arm rub­ber bushes. Ford items are avail­able (at around £25 per pair), but up­rated Pow­er­flex bushes are only slightly more ex­pen­sive at £32.

While by no means an easy task to un­der­take, we plan on at­tack­ing this our­selves. With the rear end jacked up, it’s pos­si­ble to lower the rear beam to ac­cess these bushes (with the spare wheel and its tray re­moved and ex­haust un­hooked from its bracket). Sev­eral Puma fo­rums rec­om­mend drilling out the worn bushes rather than try­ing to re­move them, and cer­tainly, hav­ing seen the pho­tos of the work un­der­taken by other Puma own­ers, we’re in­clined to agree.

Rather em­bar­rass­ingly, an­other fail point was the Puma’s worn near­side wind­screen wiper. We’ll re­place both with Bosch’s finest blades – they’re the same size (19 inches) and only cost 15 quid de­liv­ered.

Look­ing back on a year of high­lights ( CCW, 12 July) you might re­mem­ber I nailed my colours to the mast by say­ing the MG ZR was the one I’d keep. In spite of this ad­mis­sion (which saw me in the mi­nor­ity, with the MercedesBenz S280 be­ing the clear favourite) I would say that of all three cars, I’ve bonded most with the Puma. It might lack air con­di­tion­ing, but last month’s jour­ney in it to New­cas­tle dur­ing the June heat­wave was gen­uinely en­joy­able and it felt good to see the Puma treated to a new wind­screen. As such, we’re de­ter­mined to see our once-proud Puma on the prowl again very soon.

Wish us luck.

‘I have a cun­ning plan…’ The work to get the Puma back on to the road be­gins now.

It’s not too bad un­der­neath, but the at­ten­tions of a wire brush and some Waxyol wouldn’t go amiss.

‘Are you sure you don’t just want to scrap it?’ re­marks one me­chanic at lo­cal garage, Ex­press Au­to­care, fol­low­ing its MoT fail. We can only as­sume he was jok­ing…

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