The Cantwell Puma Sports was a car produced by Cantwell Cars Ltd. Christchurch, New Zealand by a local racing driver Frank Cantwell in the late 1950's.
Cantwell Cars produced the cars using a purpose built chassis designed by Arthur Praed in New Zealand and Austin A35 948cc 4cyl engine's with Austin A35 running gear.
The cars had an Ashley 750 bodyshell that was imported into New Zealand and was part of a small production run of six similar cars with attached hardtops The cars were raced in New Zealand in the late 1950's against the likes of: Jack Brabham, Aust. (3 times F1 World Champion) Bruce McLaren, NZ. (F1 Grand Prix winner) and Ron Flockhart, Scot. (F1 Grand Prix driver) Bob Watson, NZ, drove in a Cantwell Puma against all 3 of the above in the 8th Lady Wigram Trophy on 24th January 1959 unfortunately in a field of 32 he and it was one of 12 that retired with mechanical problems before the end of the race as did Frank Cantwell in his Jaguar Sports car.
The car shown is now in the USA and has been since 2003, it is one of 2 survivors of the 6 made, the other is still thought to be in New Zealand.
Cantwell Puma in USAThe current surviving Cantwell Puma Sports located in the USA, however, is no longer the original car that it was before.
According to the car’s owner, a series of engine modifications happened. The latest GT car engine used on the Puma Sports gets it's power from a Ford Cortina with a big Weber and header and mated to manual gearbox with close gear ratios.
The front of the chassis frame has been changed with “modern” suspension installed.
The car's bodyshell has been modified from its original state as it now features flared wheel arches for the wide rims and tyres with rocker panels added along the sides and was finished off with a professional respray in 2009.