MEET this year’s fastest-selling new car. Or at least, it ought to be because you’ve created it.
Most motoring debutantes are the work of a couple of talented designers but the Ford Puma ST Gold Edition has 275,000 of them. Specifically, it’s been dreamt up by people who went on Twitter and Instagram and told Ford what kind of car they should be making.
A carmaker which, not being one to miss a trick, has obliged and put it into production. You told the experts behind the Mustang and the GT40 that you wanted red rather than grey brake callipers and they duly ticked the relevant box.
You said that the seat stitching should be grey, not black, and that it should have ‘PUMA’, rather than ‘FORD PERFORMANCE’ scrawled across its scuff plates.
Ford didn’t say whether it gave its online fans the option over which engine it should have – presumably because 100% of you said it should have the ST’s 200bhp EcoBoost unit - and the other thing it hasn’t revealed yet is the price it’ll be asking.
Perhaps because, given the choice, you’d have chosen to offer them about £4.50 rather than slightly more than the £28,510 it’s currently asking for a standard Puma ST.
It’ll be a joy to drive, and not entirely dissimilar from the Fiesta ST with which it shares a platform, because Ford’s decided not to let Twitter users muck about with the bits that keep it on the B-roads and out of farmers’ fields. You get the option of a limited slip differential, sharper steering and beefier anti-roll bars than you would you on a normal Puma or Fiesta.
The six-speed gearbox is the same as the standard car too, and while it’s deploying 200bhp to the front wheels rather than all four like on some other recent fast Fords, it’s kept in check by tyres that have been developed specifically for the ST not by Instagrammers, but the gurus at Michelin.
But the thing is that I don’t want an ST that’s been agreed upon by 275,000 people on social media because, I’m sorry, but people on social media shouldn’t be entrusted with making decisions on anything. People on social media thought the best name for an environmental research ship was Boaty McBoatface and that the BBC’s coverage of Prince Philip passing away was over the top. People on social media talk nonsense about COVID vaccines. I don’t want a sharpened-up Puma to be specced up by strangers I’ve never met simply because they have followers on Instagram.
I want Ford – a company whose founder once said that if he’d asked people what they wanted, they’d have told him to make a faster horse rather than the Model T – to come up with the goods itself.
And besides, it already lets you create bespoke versions of the Puma ST, and indeed every other model it makes, and has been doing so since it popularised the idea of personalising its cars since at least the Mustang in the early Sixties.
Engines, paint colours, suspension settings, wheels, trim options and all sorts of other things can be chosen by you, in an idea that’s also caught on with virtually every other carmaker I can think of.
It’s called an options list.
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly