Steyr Puch at Hampton Court

Steyr Puch at Hampton Court

Like all good stories, this one begins with a few too many red wines leading to an impulse purchase of a car I long waned for; a Steyr Puch 500. Joining the club when I was around 8 years-old and spending every penny I had in the club-store, I was fortunate to be given a ride in a member’s Steyr Puch at an event in Milton Keynes. Ever since that moment I longed for a Puch.

In June of 2021 I visited a classic car event in Syon Park. On display was a beautiful 1962 Steyr Puch 500 – restored in 2015, she was in great condition and complete with suicide doors, full-length sunroof and finished in deep-red with complimenting red and cream interior. After exchanging numbers with the owner of the stand, he duly introduced me to the vendor. After returning home I tried everything I could to erase the Puch from my mind – but despite my best endeavours and many empty bottles to ratify, I let slip a WhatsApp and the deal was done…                                                                                    

I haven’t driven the car a great-deal due to work and life commitments. She is kept fulltime in storage in Wimbledon (maintained by the London Classic Car Company – whose owner is a real 500 fanatic). But I did inaugurate her in style – with her first outing being displayed at Hampton Court in the 2021 Concours of Elegance – and judged by none other than David Gandy (the male model – for all the gentleman readers).

Whilst the Concours of Elegance is normally the preserve of the very rarest and finest cars, this year they had a sub-category, the ‘30 under 30 class’, whose applicants had to own a car over 30 years old but be under 30 years old themselves. A detailed and heartfelt application was submitted, and after a few rounds of desktop-based judging I was admitted – the Puch would be on display on the lawns of Hampton Court.

Driving up to the lawns of Hampton Court was an amazing experience – and seeing her rub shoulders with some of the UKs finest cars was a memory I will never forget. Despite being parked adjacent to a recently restored Ferrari Daytona, the crowds flocked to the Puch – drawing the attention of a journalist from Classic & Sports Car, who has written a small piece for the December 2021 edition.

Rather naively, during the judging we retired to the shade for a picnic and glass of wine, not realising that the judges were happy for the owners to talk them through the car. I therefore did not get the chance to explain how the Puch came into existence and how it differs to a regular Fiat 500, and even more upset was my partner Hannah who did not get to meet David Gandy. The Puch was (incorrectly – being Austrian) entered into the ‘Italian Classics’ sub-class, and we lost out to the Ferrari Daytona (a rather obvious choice – but of course I am not biased…).

The car can now add David Gandy to its very small list of ‘famous faces’ – alongside Ed China (from Wheeler Dealers). Hannah and I hope to attend a club event soon and say hello to everyone and see your amazing cars.                                       

Henry Lisney