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BUYERS GUIDE

Bodywork-


After all this is a ford so wouldn’t be without its rust problems as follows:
Boot Floor – this never received any stone chip at Ford, just a light lashing of Dove Grey paint, so pretty much all are rusty, in most cases a good sand, rust treatment and repaint solves the problem, but a few are worse requiring welding.


Rear Quarter Panels – The FRPs Achilles heal; standard Pumas suffer rear arch problems but for a different reason, the issue with the FRP is somewhat different and often invisible (see photos). The way the car was built was to effectively weld and glue the extended rear arches over the existing quarter panel, with the aid of certain specialist tools like a big hammer! What we often find is corrosion occurring behind this panel and between the inner (old outer) quarter and the sill stiffener. Unfortunately the only way to see this is to take the rear quarter interior trim and speaker bins out and look down the hole. I would suggest some 85% of cars have this problem and owners have seen some big bills to repair them generally in excess of £5k unless you are a keen home welder. The good news is most repair panels are available Repro full sills are available from express panels for circa £150 a side, stiffeners are available from ford at £40 a side and there is a chap who is now making repair panels for the outer quarter at £230 as side. A few offside original full panels are available but will set you back approx. £750.


Front Wings – The front wings were aluminium and whilst corrosion is usually repairable they are very rare if you need to find a replacement used one (no new ones available). A used one will set you back £350-500 a side. But unless damaged I am yet to see one that is beyond repair.


Bumpers – The bumpers were made from injection moulded fibreglass using the standard puma crash structure. Being fibreglass the slightest knock will show gel coat fractures, which are quite difficult to repair. There are approximately 5 new rear original bumpers left at approx. £600 each, genuine front bumpers are not available, but find one up someones loft and expect to pay over £1000 for a used one. Third party manufacturers do produce repro ones, but for the purists notice the differing fibreglass pattern on the rear due to it being a loose lay manufacturing process.


Water Ingress – most floor issues on the car are due to water ingress, wiring loom bulkhead grommet is often a problem and the seam in the A panel behind the front wing can crack and allow water in behind the ECU. Blocked drain holes in the boot can also cause a very damp boot area allowing the boot floor to start rotting.


As with any “hot hatch” or coupe watch out for crash damage a few out there have had some very bad repairs in the era when they were very affordable to young lads !!! having said that a properly repair Cat C or D car shouldn’t put you off, one of the concours winners was a badly damaged car front and back and had to undergo extensive repairs, but is now better than they came out the factory.

Suspension-


The suspension was the real strength of this car being able to pretty much outperform anything around a windy road, a collaboration between Eibach, Sachs and Ford. Such was the importance of this element of the car that Fords main test driver at the time ordered approx. 20 sets of what are known as RPJ dampers which were stiffer still than the ones that made it on the car, but made it just too harsh for the road.


Unfortunately the original springs and shock are no longer available, so unless you can pick up a spare set from an owner then the only solution is to go to coilovers which does change the handling. Apart from that the rest of the suspension is either standard or modified standard Ford parts bin stuff eg front hubs are are standard puma machined with a larger diameter shock absorber hole at a different camber angle.

Brakes-


Now we get to the expensive bit of the car, the front brakes are out and out race calipers, made by Alcon, without all the dust seals etc you would expect on a standard road car. Don’t get me wrong they are fantastic 4 pot brakes, but need a lot of regular maintenance, including correct pad selection. Servicing if used in daily conditions should occur every 3000 miles or so to keep them tip top (a lot of owners have 2 sets to allow you to switch them over and get the others refurbed with time to spare). A badly maintained set of calipers could set you back over £700 to service if they require welding and machining (unfortunately Alcon/Ford didn’t paint behind the stainless pad rails so amalgamation of water, salt etc causes them to rot badly in some cases scrapping calipers. As with most FRP spares new ones are no longer available. Standard front disks are no longer available but bell and rotor alternatives are at around £400 a pair.
Rears on the other hand are pretty simple and cheap being Ford parts bin stuff, Focus calipers and disks, escort estate diesel abs sensors, then the hub, carrier and spash sheild is a machined focus part.


Interior-


The interior was part of the FRPs signature with racing bright blue Sparco front seats and Alcantara trimmed steering wheel. These are often showing significant wear, dirt and bobbling by now and I haven’t seen a “mint” set for sale for several years although seats do sometimes come up for sale as a few sets from scrapped FRPs ended up in fiestas and the seats are now worth a lot more than the car itself. Even a tatty set will set you back £4-500 and they often need bolster repair, if a mint set did come up people would be fighting for them with prices expected to reach over £1000.


The Blue Alcantara was a Ford specific colour (I have the Ford Colour Harmony samples in the photo) and it was agreed that none of them fitted the bill, so Ford commissioned a bespoke blue. Some pieces of this material do come up for sale occasionally but expect to pay £200+ a metre and that is rising as it becomes more scarce.


Steering wheels will invariably be grubby and will cost you £250+ to be retrimmed and that’s after you have found some Alcantara.
The rest of the trim is stock Puma, so most can be raided from scrap yards, but beware Puma interiors came in more than one colour, find an early car pre2000 with Blue Alchemy interior.


Engine-


This is a surprisingly strong little lump with a good few cars having over 150k on the clock and still pulling strong. I would be more cautious of low mileage examples as these engines don’t like standing. A few have suffered Nikasil bore failures but usually due to another reason such as a leaky injector. The good news is that the only engine mod that was carried our apart from a remap was higher lift cams (plus inlet manifold and exhaust) so if all else fails pick up a decent standard 1.7 puma engine for £100-150 and switch the cams over.


Gearbox and Drivetrain-

 

The gearbox is a “standard” IB5 with shotpeened first and second gears and different ratios than the standard puma, but all can be obtained from other Ford gearboxes. They very rarely fail but are easily fixed if they do. Approx 80 cars were fitted with an LSD at an additional cost of approx. £1000 so this does make the car a little more desirable.


Driveshafts do snap if you accelerate hard on lock, about 40 sets are still available at around £300 just for the shafts.

Overview-


Our advice to anyone would be don’t buy cheap as a doer upper, buy the best you possibly can find as it will save you huge amounts of money a full resto, that still wont be perfect due to lack of certain spares will cost you over £10k, and whilst prices are appreciating fairly quickly it will be a little time before you make your money back. I know an owner who had a concours car who has spent a 5 figure sum on his car this year.


Pretty average cars are selling for £7-8K with tatty ones at £6k, the few minters out there if they did come up for sale I would expect to be pitched at around the £15k mark.