Ford Puma Kit cars were developed by Ford Racing at Borham, Essex. The Ford Racing Engineers were tasked with producing a rally ready version of the Ford Puma. A constant balance was needed to retain engineering integrity whilst still ensuring the end product was priced competitively. As designers the Borham engineers were restricted by the price the market would stand rather than by what the FIA regulations allowed.
Whilst the new Focus was viewed as an ideal base for an FIA World Rally Championship car, it was decided that it would be uncompetitive as a 1400cc machine. It was fortunate then that Ford had the Puma, which was lightweight and had an almost square wheelbase, even in basic road trim its handling was phenomenal. This led to rave reviews in the motoring press and a certain tv program and magazine of the same name going so far as to say "For a company whose idea of fun used to be sticking a set of alloys and a ropey spoiler on a Fiesta, the Puma is something of a U-turn. The Puma is the first of its kind to drive even better than it looks. Start its fruity 1.7-litre engine, snick the chrome-topped gear-lever into first and it’ll take about 60 seconds for it to put a smile on your face.”
Ford Racing took these solid foundations and from them developed two Puma kit-cars; the VK14 (the S1400) and the VK16 (the S1600). The two body shells were of identical construction with the same amount of wheel travel on both cars. However on the S1600 VK16 the track was widened further to allow for wider wheels and tyres - as permitted by the regulations. The ride-height remained the same on both S1400 and S1600 cars.
The engine sizes were chosen to match FIA classes. The kit-car regulations allowed the engineers to decrease or increase engine capacity, both Puma kit-cars used versions of the 1.7-litre Zetec engine (as found in the standard road going Ford Puma) - downsized to the appropriate capacity.
Is an original factory built car but used under a different registration number by the Ford team. The shell and roll cage was built by Gordon Vincent, the engine was built Mountune and was maintained and developed by Chris Birbeck Motorsport. When the car was no longer required by Ford, Chris Birbeck took ownership of the car and it was at this point that the registration number changed to its current one.
The car was originally used the winner of the Ford Ka Championship, in the Colin McRae Scholarship Program. The car then crossed the Irish Sea, where with servicing being undertaken by Chris Birbeck it was campaigned by a father and daughter team. After which it was sold to Colin Byrne who with servicing support by Chris Birbeck and conversion to right hand drive secured a number of top three class results on the Irish Tarmac Championship.
After this the car went into a private collection in Wales and made appearances on invitational events over the next few years. In 2018 the car was sold and the new owner used it on a number of Motorsport News Circuit Championship events and then the 2019 Corbeau Seats Rally in Essex, the first English closed road rally. In late 2019 the car was bought by a father and son team who have returned it to its original works colour scheme and plan to use it competitively and on demonstration events.
Engine : 1400cc Ford Zetec SE, Fuel Injected, 16v, 190bhp
Induction : Naturally Aspirated
Transmission : Front Wheel Drive, Six speed Close Ratio Gearbox with Quaife LSD