Unique of the Week: 1953 Puma Sports

Classic Cars

This car and its company have largely been forgotten over the years, with only two Puma Sports left in existence. This is one of them.

During the 1950s, it was fairly easy to build your own performance car from scratch. Whether it became a success or not was another story entirely but small carmakers could get their hands on a proper chassis from a larger company and, thanks to fiberglass, design a truly unique and one-of-a-kind body. This was done countless times but most have been long forgotten. In fact, outside of enthusiast circles the public remains largely oblivious to these wonderful garage creations that were built across the globe.

One such example was created by a New Zealander by the name of Frank Cantwell. We don’t know much about him other than what the eBay advertisement says, but he was supposedly a larger than life figure down in Christchurch; a true car guy and designer who also had a passion for motorsports. He called his company, unsurprisingly, Cantwell Cars Ltd. and produced a car called the Puma Sports. It came with its own chassis design, a beautiful fiberglass body, with power coming from an Austin-sourced engine. So while everything about the Puma Sports looked good on paper, only six examples were built in its short lifetime.

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Cantwell reportedly raced these cars many times over the years but today just two examples survive, with the other four likely ending their lives in the salvage yard. The particular Puma Sports you see before you found its way to the US around 10 years ago and fortunately came with all of its original paperwork. However, in its current state the car is not original. The seller claims that it’s had a series of engines over the years and its latest power comes from a Ford Cortina with a big Weber and header and mated to manual gearbox with close gear ratios.

The car’s body has also been modified from its original state as it now features flared and wider rims and new tires. It was professionally repainted four years ago and only 38 miles have been put on the car ever since. As of this writing, this 1953 Puma Sports has a top bid of $10,100 with the reserve yet to be met. So if anyone is looking for an old 1950s era race car from an unknown foreign brand, this Puma Sports could be the answer.

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