The story of the PUMA!
Before the Puma
-- Finding the Puma
-- Working on the Puma
|It all started back in '82. I
bought my brand new Dodge Charger 2.2, my first new car!!
Boy was that a mistake! One problem after another, it was at
(gone and forgotten) the local Dodge dealer, more than it was on the road! I suffered with
that for a year letting the dealer fix all the problems. I ended up giving it to my
brother John who keep it for a while before trading it for a new Mitsubishi Starion. I
then started my "I'll just find a nice used car and fix it myself phase".
Actually, 2nd phase, before the Charger, I had "restored" a '70 Chevy Impala
(first car, that's another story) and a '74 Opel Manta
I sold that and needed some wheels, so I picked up a '76 Toyota Celica to get me by.
I then started looking for my next "project".
I spyed a '72 Opel GT in a want ad magazine and had to have it! I cleaned it up and ended up with
this... That was fun for a while.
Then I started on "I gotta have a truck!" I ended up
trading my GT in for a Toyota 4X4. Me and John just had to do some 4x4'n in the
We'll, I ended up trading that for a Pathfinder.
Oops, got a little ahead of my self there. Actually the Puma came
before the Pathfinder...ok, ok, back to the Puma.
Finding the Puma
It was May of '87, the Charger was forgotten, the Opels were gone the Celica
rusted apart, the 4X4 was full of mud, I needed a sports car! But I didn't want the
average, everyone's got one, shinny new sports car from the local Chevy, Ford or Chrysler
dealer. I wanted something different. Something unique. I looked in used car books, I
looked at foreign cars, specialty cars, older Mustangs, Camaros, Vettes, but I didn't see
anything that caught my eye. I started looking at Kit cars, they were different. But when
I started looking into it, I realized that either I would need an endless supply of money
to buy all the "needed" parts, or it would be years before I could put all the
pieces together to make it not look like a "KIT". It was beginning to look like
I wouldn't find anything. Then as I was reading through the May '87 issue of Peterson's
Kit Car, there it was, "Powerhouse Puma", a sooped up Puma that could do
the 1/4-mile in 11.6 seconds. Wow, this looked promising! And on the next page,
"Build and drive a Puma in 15 hours", ooh, looking better! They styling
looked like the cross between an Alpha-romeo and a Porsche. So I started looking for more
info on the Puma. I spent the next month looking for as much info as I could on the
Puma. Then in the June issue of Kit Car Illustrated, on the last page, "At
$6995, the Puma GTI sets new industry standards". The ad by Louismet Autoworks. So I
cut out the ad and sent it in. I waited for info to come back. After I read the brochure,
I had to have it!!! So I called Loiusmet Autoworks, little did I know, they were having a
going out of business sale! They said they only had 2 left! I had to choose from a silver
convertible or a yellow coupe, of course I took the yellow coupe! (If anyone bought from
Loiusmet Autoworks, please e-mail me, I'd like to find out if I actually did get one for
the last ones!) So I nervously gave him my credit card number to hold the Puma (not
knowing if they really had any left since they were going out of business) while I
scrambled to get a loan for the rest of the money. So my order was placed, now I just had
to wait for it to arrive...and wait I did. I started getting nervous, I called every two
week wondering when it would arrive. "We are still trying to arrange
transportation". "We are waiting for the delivery truck to arrive".
"We are trying to schedule a delivery to you area". Boy, was I really getting
nervous. Then in August, they assured me that the Puma was on the truck and it is on the
way. By this time I figured my deposit is gone and the Puma will never arrive! We'll the
call finally came from the shipping company, "We are on the way, we'll be a
little late, we had several other Puma's to drop off". So I called several of my
family members and told them I would need some help loading the parts off the truck. So we
waited, and waited, 'til after dark. Then finally the rumble of the diesel engine could be
heard in the dark. It was finally here!!! We all went out side and looked at the lone Puma
on the car carrier. We look at each other...how were we going to get it off the trailer,
it didn't have any wheels on it! "Don't worry the driver said, it's not that
heavy". So we had 8 people lifting the Puma from the truck on to some wooden pallets,
actually, it wasn't that heavy, after all, it didn't have the engine, tranny or front end
installed. When day light broke the next day, I was ready to jump in and drive it
away...but I couldn't, had to put it together first!
The Puma, as it sat on the pallet, August 27,1986.
Working on the Puma
pulled out the floor jacks and jack stands and started working on it the next day. A
couple week ends later I was ready to start it up and start tuning it. Those dual carbs
were a pain to set up. I got the 2275cc engine to go with my Puma. Now that it was
running, it was time to start making "my" custom modifications. First I needed
some wheels! I started looking at wheels to fit that 4 bolt VW pattern. Not much luck
finding wheels for that bolt pattern. I ended up finding a set of wheel adapters to go
from VW to Chevy 5 bolt pattern. That helped speed up finding some nicer wheels. I got
Falcon VR 205/50's for the front and 225/50's for the rear. (to be changed later) I
installed a performance timer. This was only going to be used to check my speed
in MPH (yea, right!) since the stock Puma came with a speedometer in KM/H. It also has a
0-60 timer and 1/4 mile time display. I had to move the head light switches to install the
performance timer. I removed the heater controls (I plan on only driving in the summer any
ways) to install the new switches in the center console. Later I ended up changing some of the original
gauges to new VDO (see below). I also installed a Scat chrome plated gear
I needed a stereo!
I Got a Sony XR-7100 Stereo with cassette deck (top of the line back then) with some
Pioneer TS-X40 Speakers. I added a shelf above where the "luggage" storage
area is, covered it with black material to match the interior. I didn't need a booster,
the speakers were only about 2 ft from my ears.
After driving my Puma for a couple summers (only about 800 miles)
the clutch started squealing, real loud! After asking around and not getting much good
news, I decided to pull the clutch. After pulling the clutch, I found that the
"C" clips holding the through out bearing in had scored groves in them. What I
found out is the the clutch that came with the engine was for a late model transaxle
(post-68'), not a early model (up to 68'). I ended up replacing the clutch with a Kennedy
1700lb Kush Lock Disc. Later I installed an external fuel pressure regulator and filer. I
started changing jets in the carb to improve performance.
After 4 years of tuning, tinkering, and just havin' fun. Disaster
struck! (I won't tell the whole story here), but lets just say, an inferior quality oil
cooler return hose let go! The oil sprayed all over and the engine seized up! :-@
>:-> :-( :-( :-( Lets just say, I was not
Well, after a couple months of mourning. I started planning phase 2
of the Puma. I didn't want to put in another VW engine. So I started looking into how to
install another type of engine on a VW transaxle. I knew there had been RX-7 engines
installed on tranaxles, but I heard they weren't the easiest to service. So I started
checking magazine again. I came across Kennedy Engineered Products of Palmdale, CA. They
make adapter plates for all kinds of engines. So I called and go a catalog. Now came the
tough part, figuring out what engine to put into it. I called them and asked if the know
of anyone putting another engine in a Puma, but they didn't know of any. I narrowed it
down to either a GM Quad 4, Nissan V6, Buick V6 or a Ford V6. I had to narrow it down from
there, well the Quad 4 would have been nice, but that engine was only a couple years old,
so there weren't any sitting around in the junk yards, I would have to buy a new one, that
would have been a couple grand to start! Similar story with the Nissan V6, it was even
more expensive. So it was down to the Buick V6 and the Ford V6. It got even easier to
choose when a friend of mine told me he had just taken a V6 out of his Bronco II to put in
a V8. At $150 for a complete running engine, how could I turn that down! So I took it,
tore it down, and started to rebuild it. (see Specs) The trick now was to make it fit
under the hood, and to cool it.
I installed the radiator up front, with 2" electrical conduit
installed rear to front for cooling, hoses are a variety from
different cars, cut to fit. Cut several 2" dia. holes behind the radiator for air
flow, and used sheetmetal to direct air flow, I cut out some slots were the front bumper
is to allow air to flow into the radiator.
I had a scoop added to the rear lid by a local body shop to allow the air
cleaner to fit.
Some Pic's of the V6!!
tach, changed r3 from 18K to 10K to allow 6 cylinder rpms to be
Installed heavy duty shocks with springs, to take up the extra
Hope to do, redress wires and hoses with braid dress up kit,
re-paint engine, coat exh manifolds, pipes. High per ignition
2.8L Ford V6 (from Bronco II)
Bored .040 over
Coil, 40K volts chrome plated
Engineered Products adapter plate #1200 Ford V6 to 68 VW Swing Axle
Holly 4160 HLY-0-8007
IR469 for 78 Chevy Monza V6-231CU
Intake Manifold OFY6097DP
Radiator Fans, x2
Summit Racing MRG-1987
for '75 Pinto 2.8L V6
MAR16802 2" in/out
Splitfire SF10D gap .044
Fiberglass Hood Scoop addition
GTS Styling, Lexan GT020
adapters, VW 4 bolt to Chevy 5 bolt
Pins Summit Racing MOR-39020
Radio Shack 20-011, Multi-Frequency
with adjustable springs
R-Michelin Sport XGT 255/60VR15
Original Puma Specs