Joined: 22 Jun 2005
Location: TX, USA
1969 Mercury Cougar XR7
|Posted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 3:10 pm Post subject: 2NDX's XR7
My love of the '69 Cougar started the summer I turned 15. My dad was faced with the decision to either
A) Kill and bury his only son in a shallow grave.
B) Try to find some sort of an outlet for.... what I was becoming.
We looked at a couple different, well used cars. Everything was crap.
One day my dad informed me he found "a wreck" that we should look at. Long story short:
A 1969 Sport Special Mercury Cougar. Red on red, white vinyl top. White pin stripe. 351W with a 3 spd. manual on the floor, no console. The car had under 80K miles on it. The car was, as promised, wrecked. The owner hit a telephone pole. DEAD CENTER of the hood. He hit it pretty good too.
I watched dad haggle. I stood by, mute, while my dad got the price of the car down to 75 bucks! Remember those days? ME TOO! Infact, I think about that day ALOT!
We towed the car home that day. In fact, I learned how to drive a non-running car with NO brakes and NO power steering that day.
We pulled into the yard, mom came out of the house and the fun began! My mom decided my dad had gone completely mad! The car was wrecked... WRECKED! It had a V8 engine! A V8! And... the Holy Grail for attacting a mothers ire... A STANDARD TRANSMISSION! MY... MOM... HATED... THAT... CAR!!! God I loved it.
I wish I had pics of that car.
Skipping ahead.... Over that summer, I scrounged for money AND Cougar parts. Believe it or not, parts were ALMOST as hard to find then as they are now. The car was hit a little harder than we thought.
A new hood, core support, radiator and grill were found and installed. I banged out the front valance. I LIKE to think it looked pretty good. I'm PROBABLY wrong. :angel: We also replaced the door pins.
Working on the Cougar that summer was THE FIRST TIME I heard the old man drop an F-bomb. Can you blee 'dat? 2 daughters in their late teens, a 3rd daughter pre-puberty AND an assbag like me as a son... and that summer was the 1st! Just... WOW. Super human restraint.
School started. My new interest in cars (AND a need for a place to paint my Cougar) found me in Auto body classes at the vocational center. [hr]
Sitting next to me in auto body was a certified car nut. He and I started talking cars, and before I knew it, we had struck a deal. We traded my running driving Cougar for his '56 Chevy Bel Air. The Cougar was driven to Chris' parents house, the '56 came to my parents house in multiple trips. Dad never said a word. Again.... super human restraint.
It didnt take me long to realize I really liked/missed the Cougar. It DID however take me quite a few years to realize just what my dad had done for me.
I never stopped wanting another Cougar. I dont need to tell you guys how often nice ones come along.
Early summer 2002 I stumbled across an ad for the car I now own. A couple phone calls and some back & forth and a verbal agreement was made. Me, my dad and a car dolley headed to Northern Il. on a "verbal handshake" and the sellers assurance "If you know Cougars, when you see this car, you'll buy it!"[hr] The car was said to be from southern AZ. It looked the part. Trunk drop offs were spotless. The bottoms of the doors and rockers, spotless. Torque boxes, spotless. The seller had a file folder FULL of receipts.
I simply could NOT pass this car up.
I drove the car up onto the tow dolley, disconnected the drive shaft at the rear end and wired it up out of the way...... off we went.
During the ride home, my dad started looking at the receipts. At one point he said "Rough estimate? There are over 7/8K worth of receipts here!"
The run down:
351W "Bullet" long block
Hooker long tube headers, dual exh. with an H-pipe
Rebuilt C4 transmission
New KYB shocks all 'round
New springs frnt/back fromMustangs Unlimited
New seat covers front/rear
New brakes frnt/back
You get the idea. The only thing I was upset about was this was a factory AC car, but everything was missing.
This pic is from the day I brought it home.
I'm not entirely sure what the previous owners plan was. He had moved the batt. to the trunk and there were a couple "nods" towards going fast in a straight line, yet... he had installed over sized sway bars, KYB gas shocks and over sized brakes.
Over the next few years I just drove it. The C4 started to slip a bit and the steering had some play. GOOD! I had plans anyhoo!
I had looked long and hard at rebuilding/replacing the steering components of the car. Enter..... Borgeson Steering.
Sitting here talking Borgeson, I cant do them justice. I called several times. I was NEVER put on hold. I NEVER "talked to a machine" and I honestly dont believe the phone ever rang more than 4 times! At one point, one of the design engineers gave me his personal cell number and told me "I'm headed to the shop. Call me on my cell and we'll look at this together!"
Borgeson puts the "Shiz in Shizzle." I have NO idea what I just said... but it's good.
Guys have asked, so here goes.... Borgeson. Would I use them again? IN A HEART BEAT! Great product, GREAT staff. The car drives.... so very nicely. Ever driven a late 70's early 80's TA or Camaro? My Cougar drives as nice, probably better due to the gas shocks and over sized sway bars.
Caveats: You cant use a Z-bar set up. Wont clear the steering box.
Despite what the install instructions SAY... do yourself a favor. Pull off your d.s. header, your master cyl. AND the booster! You can thank me later.
The Borgeson kit was.... 850ish dabloons. A rebuild/replace of the stock system was "about" the same. I have less moving/working parts in my steering now. Less chance for failure.
[hr] That winter I also installed one of Bob's electronic tachs. I was having some electrical issues and thought for sure it was the tach. It wasnt. MANY hours later I had replaced numerous connections in the wiring, had cut out and replaced some wires entirely. SUCCESS! The Cougar was running. Again.
The winter of '10 I pulled the C4 out and started the T5 install.
I put the car up on cribbing and on my ramps. Got the car about 34" off the floor at the rockers and HOPED that'd be high enough. Pulled the front seats and the dash. Cut the exhaust off and.... started pulling parts. The T5 is a WC unit from a '90 Mustang GT. Clutch kit T.O. bearing and fork are all new stock replacement. I used an aluminum flywheel and the clutch cable kit from Modern Driveline along with their roller bearing kit for the clutch pedal and their cross member.
I also pulled and scraped the old insulation off the firewall and reinsulated. Might as well "as long as I'm here" it WILL have AC again some day!
.....one day I realized HOLY COD FISH! I'm putting this thing BACK TOGETHER!
I was VERY careful pulling/cutting off the exhaust. My plan from the beginning was to reuse the exhaust. This is where I learned something. "They" say you can use long tube headers with a T5 swap. "They" also ride unicorns in their world. I dont have a unicorn, and I didnt have long tube headers that would work.
Saaayyyy!! I have ANOTHER set of long tube headers, compliments of my friend Mike! Theyre from a '70 Mustang fastback project of his! I'm golden!
This is where I learned something AGAIN! Hooker long tube headers and Hedman long tube headers?? I-friggin'-dentical! Yep! I had 2 sets of long tubes that were not going to work! AND, I'm still sans a unicorn.
Hedman shorty headers were ordered.... along with a "PYPES" X kit in 2.5 inch, 2 Thrush welded mufflers. All in all, I LIKE the sound much better now. The car has a "higher" pitched exhaust note and the interior drone is completely gone. I'm constantly surprised by the compliments on the sound.
The car is alot more enjoyable to drive with the T5. Gas mileage is waaayy up too. Even WITH the added enthusiasm the stick brings. I've never figured out my rear gear. I had assumed it was a 3.00 or there abouts. Next on the plans list is a 3.25 rear gear.[hr] WHAT HAVE I DONE?? I glossed RIGHT over a very important part of the electronic tach install, something I had intended to talk about a little more.
My appologies to Bob @ http://www.rccinnovations.com/
Like I said earlier, I THOUGHT my electrical woes were from my tach. After the install of the tach The car still didnt want to start. A quick phone call to Bob and my head was SPINNING! Bob walked me through a couple tests and things pointed toward a bad connection. That is where I replaced several bad connections. That fixed the problem.... for a while.
*Cue the spooky music. Insert Vincent Price voice over.*
Over the next summer, the Cougar acted like "Christine"... only it couldnt or wouldnt fix itself. The car would start/run excellent one day, the next day it would die while driving at highway speed. No pattern to the issues. VERY confusing to a complete idiot. In true idiot fashion, I ignored the problem through that entire summer. I think it was because I dont do electrical.
That fall after I put up the car, I called Bob. Bob was SO THRILLED that I chose HIM to go to with my electrical issues.
After much mental anguish on Bobs end, *cough* "WE" figured out it was my ignition switch.
THANK YOU BOB! Thanks for ALL the help and advise, but mostly thanks for not hanging up and changing your cell number!