Bob Evans at Brands Hatch in 1971.


Alan McKechnie’s small team only made the one attempt at racing car construction although it was notable for being somewhat different from the usual run-of-the-mill F3 cars that were around in the 1970s although it never achieved great things. In addition to being used in F3 it seems that in 1972 a Ford BDA engine was fitted to the car and it was entered in the somewhat unusual Rothmans 50,000 race at Brands Hatch in 1972, designated HM23 it did not start the race.


Designed in 1969 by Tony Hilder (who had worked on the McLaren M1A sports car), the monocoque of the Puma was very unusual as it was made of Mallite an aluminium/balsa wood sandwich that was also used in the 1966 McLaren M2B. Strong and light it was arguably the first appearances of composite construction that today is the norm. The tub was a full length structure stretching back to the gearbox and only weighed 10 lbs (4.5 kg). The two foam-filled fuel tanks were inserted horizontally inside the tub. If that wasn’t enough rising-rate torsion bar suspension was also used although this apparently caused some disharmony in the team. The torsion bar itself took the load strain rather than the chassis pick-up points. The Puma was hidden away in a Peckham lock-up for two years as McKechnie ran a F5000 team. Discovered and driven by Bob Evans the car showed promise with a pole position first time out. Initially hampered by poor BRM engines a change to a Vegantune unit improved things a lot until Evans had a serious testing accident which put the car and himself out of racing for the rest of the season. Best result of the year was a 3rd at Crystal Palace in June.


Revised in 1977 as the 377 and entered for two races to give Nigel Mansell his start in F3, the car was something of a “bitsa” with new suspension using Lola uprights with Chevron wishbones at the front and March ones at the rear. A March nose and a GP Metalcraft wing were added, an engine was borrowed and the Puma went racing. In its two races it was apparently quick in the corners, slow on the straights and unreliable (it retired both times).Some reports say that the basis of this car was based on an unraced 1972 Puma Mk2 design


1971 Bob Evans.
1977 Nigel Mansell.

The Puma stalls on the grid on it's debut at Brands Hatch, Jacques Coulon (36) and Roger Williamson (28) take avoiding action.
Another shot of Evans with a different colour scheme.
Nigel Mansell in the 1977 version of the Puma.