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