The fun of driving

Ford PumaOne of the thing I missed most since I moved to the U.S. is that I am no longer a car owner. Before the move, I owned a Ford Puma which is a small sport car only sold in Europe and in limited number (~10,000 were made per year). Here are a couple of photos of my car soon after I bought it brand new from the car dealer.

Ford Puma - backThe great thing about the Puma (apart from its fantastic styling) is the handling. Although the engine was by no mean very powerful (only a 4 cylinders/1.7 litre/125 bhp) but coupled with the finely tuned chassis (tuned by the Ford Special Vehicles Team who also works with Cosworth Racing for Ford’s European Rally team) it is a dynamite on the road. The progressive powered steering makes it easy to drive around town while transmitting the feel of a non-powered steering at high speed. The suspensions were tuned such that it is again ‘progressive’. It has none of the dull understeer most cars have and when push too hard, snaps into oversteer. The Puma is tuned to be slightly tail light and as it is pushed harder and harder, it retains only very slight understeer and gradually fades to oversteer. Thus, this gives the driver (me!) the confidence to push the car hard as there is no nasty surprises.

The top speed I had actually gotten out of my Puma? Just a shade over 120 mph over a short stretch of dual carriage way (kind of a two lanes highway in the U.S.) while racing a BMW 318. We started off as we joined into the dual carriage way and the BMW wasn’t accelerating as it should. So I tried to overtook it and the BMW driver tried to keep up. I kept my half car lead until we approached a roundabout and the BMW driver chickened out and slowed down about 20 meters before I did. Thanks to the confidence that the Puma gave me I had no problem flying around the roundabout at the reduced speed of ~80 mph!

Fun, fun, fun… How I love driving fast on roads that are not straight! Driving in the U.S. tends to be pretty boring. Straight road and low speed limit.

And the ultimate dream car for me? It has to be the McLaren F1. Here are some stats to blow you mind:

  • Top speed = 222 mph
  • Engine = 6 litre V12
  • Power = 627 bhp
  • 0-60 mph = 3.1 s
  • 0-100 mph = 6.3 s
  • 1/4 mile = 11.1 s @ 138 mph
  • Weight = 1138 kg (~2500 lb)
  • Cost = ~$1M (new)

Only ~100 were built and more than 30 of them were used in GT racing. This will be the car that I would buy if I ever win the lottery!

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