Cougar Sold!

cougar_soldIt’s been a labor of love since 2003 when I drove my new 1968 Mercury Cougar XR7 home from Santa Rosa. While I didn’t know much about the Cougar or even restoring the classic I started looking for information and formulated plans for updating my new ride. It wasn’t long after I purchased the Cougar that I received a business card on my windshield, while parked at my (now) wife’s work about the Mercury Stray Cats Classic Cougar Automobile Club, in Concord. Talk about convenient, this was literally in my backyard!

I joined the club, even with my Cougar in it’s current condition and was a faithful member for a few years. I found more information than I could shake a stick at from the discussion boards at Mercury Cougar dot net. A vast wealth of knowledge for everything that prowled! As I collected articles, I tossed around ideas with a few car enthusiasts on where to start the restoration. There was not much progress until I got married and moved into our first house in Oakley.

The garage quickly became the Cougar’s den and my wife’s car was relegated to the driveway. During the early years of ownership I was gung ho on tearing down and rebuilding the Cougar. Looking back the receipts I have collected, the total exceeds $15000! Amazing, because looking at the cat you would not be able to tell I have invested that much money into the car, as well as hundreds of hours to get it to current condition today.

It’s only been the last few years I have considered selling the Cougar. After my son was born in 2005, life changed for the better. When he was young I was still able to put some time into the restoration, but after 2007 I lost interest. As he got older, money got tighter and I was not able to put any money towards the Cougar.

I debated putting the Cougar up for sale since I had no time and money to invest. I was talked into keeping the car, being told that I could work on different aspects of the car that needed attention, such as striping off surface rust and accomplishing some simple bodywork. I was good at one thing, tearing down the car, this included the engine, which was completely rebuilt by Bad Ass Engines in Napa.

Still the Cougar remained in the garage and over the last few years I can probably count on one hand the number of times I worked on it. At this point in my life with my interests elsewhere I could not justify keeping the Cougar. In our new house we didn’t have a 3 car garage, so it sat outside , under a cover. Time was still precious and being pulled in other directions allowed me no time to invest into the Cougar. My interest, while still piqued by the Cougar was nearly exhausted.

I put the Cougar up for sale at the end of November on numerous sites, include Craigslist, Ebay, as well as a post to the Mercury Cougar Forums, my web site and the Stray Cats President, who disseminated the information to club members. There was little interest initially, maybe the $5500 price was “too much” as I was just trying to recover costs from the engine rebuild. I knew I would take a huge loss, but that would be money in my pocket that I didn’t have.

Early in January I received some interest from a buyer in New York, who requested more current pictures. I ended up zipping 40 images and making them available. I communicated with him over text for about 2 weeks and then he went silent.

No sooner did that interest wane, I received an e-mail from a local Stray Cats member who wanted to know if the car was still available. Just this week we finally got together and I showed him the Cougar and provided what information I had. He shared his story of why he wanted to purchase the car and intentions for me. Made me feel good the car could possibly be going to a good house and more importantly be finished.

We talked for about 30 minutes and then came time to negotiate the price. While I wanted $5500, we agreed upon a lower price. Again, that’s money I did not have yesterday. It also got the Cougar out of my driveway and into the possession of someone who has time and money to invest.

In my opinion he got a great deal! I have boxes of new parts and most all of the original equipment, minus fuel tank, front windshield and some of the chrome trim. On Friday he left a deposit and I am waiting to be contacted so the Cougar can be picked up and trailered off.

The only remaining sticking point, the DMV fees. The last year I registered the car was 2007. I didn’t even bother registering it non operational, so the fee penalties have added up. Currently to register the Cougar will take $698. I am however going into the DMV, show them a folder full of receipts to prove the car has been under restoration and not drivable. This was a recommendation from the DMV. Hopefully we can get those fees reduced by half.

So it’s been a great time being a Cougar owner/enthusiast for the past 11+ years. I expect in the future if I am looking for a muscle car, I will stay loyal to Mercury and the Cougar. The ’68 XR7 wasn’t my first choice. What I would like to own is a 1970 Mercury Cougar Eliminator, while not as abundant as the ’68 XR7, Eliminators are out there and available.

1968 Cougar XR-7 For Sale

318409The time has come and my decision has been made. While it’s been a long time coming, I have decided to put the 1968 Mercury Cougar XR-7 up for sale. I have owned the car since March 2003 when I bought it from a friend who lived up in Santa Rosa, CA. He was the second owner, with his grandmother, who took initial delivery in 1968 as the original owner.

Prior to the birth of my son I had more free time to dedicate to restoring the Cougar. While the cat was drivable, it wasn’t safe but was excited with a smile on my face whenever I got behind the wheel. After some searching and discussion on MercuryCougar.net I decided to go for a full, drivable restoration. Little did I know what I was getting into. Even if I did know prior to ripping the Cougar apart, I still would have made the decision to restore it.

As things go, priorities changed in my life. While my desire to own, restore and drive a Cougar were alive and kicking, I just didn’t have the sort of time I had when I brought the car home. Over the next few years I started putting money into what seemed like a bottomless pit.

I purchased a few front end kit in October, 2005 and sent the C4 transmission to be rebuilt by a local shop in Brentwood, CA. Delta Bay Mustang became my local go to shop for parts. Not long after the new transmission I sent the Cougar in to have a new exhaust system installed with an ‘H’ pipe, Flowmaster mufflers with chrome, stock tailpipes.

By August all four brakes and the front end were rebuilt. Looking to get the Cougar safe and drivable, I purchased parts to replace the rear end. My intentions from the start were to make this XR-7 a daily driver, but as I continued the tear down and discussed with other Cougar owners I saw how extensive this project was becoming.

In April the following year, with spring upon on I made the decision to pull the 302 from the Cougar. Originally I decided to repaint, repair and replace parts on the engine, but after looking at it and the amount of crud and oil on the engine, one thing led to another and the engine was on a hoist sitting above the engine compartment. Soon I would send the 302 to Aaron at Bad Ass Engines in Sonoma to be completely rebuilt.

Four months later I would get a call from Aaron that the engine was done and ready to be picked up. Unfortunately once the engine got home, very little else was done. Time had started to dry up and any discretionary income I previously had was going into the house for upgrades and remodeling.

If it wasn’t enough to have an empty engine compartment, I decided to start tearing shit out from the interior and trying to complete work that needed to be done that didn’t cost any money, but time. I spent time grinding and sanding the care in order to prep and shoot with a rust inhibitor. Work also started on the engine compartment to clean it up, repair the battery ledge in order to paint so I could get the engine back in the Cougar.

Now 7 years later that is where the project has stood. Time invested is priceless, but the nearly $15,000 spent has me frustrated. I just don’t have the time or space to work on the Cougar. I would love to finish this project, but realistically it will continue to sit, covered waiting.

Now I have put out feelers to a few well place Cougarholics in order to sell the 68 and get a portion of what I spent back. Obviously I won’t get what I put in, rarely does that ever happen, nor do I expect that. However, I would like to recoup a portion of the costs of the engine, which would mean giving the Cougar away, but I am okay with that.

If you are interested in tackling a project car please feel free to email me at stoumi [at] the6thfloor [dot] com or you can contact me on Facebook at Stephen Toumi. I can provide all the paperwork I have from the work I have completed, as well as updated photos of the Cougar. I would like to sell by December and you will need a trailer in order to pick the car, engine and parts up. For more information you can visit this link. For additional images of the Cougar, you can download 30 of there here.

Access Denied

It’s quite interesting to note that I am no longer allowed access to www.abovetopsecret.com because the content is categorized as, “Alternative Spirituality/Belief;Newsgroups/Forums.” ATS members exchange and debate their Above top Secret approved ideas and theories on a variety of “alternative topics”, including UFOs and extraterrestrial life, political scandals, New World Order, the 2012 phenomenon, cryptozoology, and secret societies. (source). So the content is already considered by some “questionable material.”

At my previous employer it seemed to be a weekly occurrence that a favored web site of mine would suddenly end up on the ‘Access Denied’ list. While I have no idea who maintained this filter, it became rather frustrating. Many times I would frequent forum based web sites, for example QRZ.com and MercuryCougar.net. Both of these sites I use specifically for the forums. Oddly enough neither ever made the list. But the forums for the game I helped develop was put on the list. To this day I have no reason why. Could it be because the word, ‘terror’ was in the domain name?

I am sure my time perusing the web site, Godlike Productions while at work is limited and will most likely end up on the “Access Denied’ list in the coming month(s). Why? The content is similar to that of ATS and presented in a forum and probably more loose in terms of moderation. Yet as of this posting, I still have complete access to it.

While not too surprising I can access ATS via the IP address (67.228.0.162), although I am sure this too is against policy and it would probably be advisable if I didn’t. Too bad to see more and more of my frequently visited sites being on the ‘Access Denied’ list. Guess that is why it’s called work.

Access Denied by SmartFilter

“Access Denied by SmartFilter.” This is becoming a more and more common response when I attempt to access web sites from work. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that the filtering of web sites is probably a common practice at places of employment. I read a statistic, “almost 40 per cent of internet use in companies is non-work related.” So does that mean users are spending more time on the Internet and being less productive? That same story goes on to say, “most visits to pornographic web pages occur during working hours, with two out of every three visits to pornographic web pages occurring during working hours (source). Wow! I would NEVER consider trying to drop in on a porn site at work, even by mistake.

Some of the other common responses from SmartFilter have been due to; Mature, Extreme, Chat and Gambling. I understand that many companies monitor Internet usage. I heard a stat, but I can’t recall where that something like 71% of employers monitor their employees. Now, honestly, I don’t care if I am monitored. I don’t go to web sites I don’t belong at. Some of the sites I attempt to access, like www.urbanterror.net has been filtered for ‘Extreme’ or ‘Mature.’ I assume that is based solely on the word, “terror.” I am slowly loosing access to forums I accessed on a regular basis because this is not considered, ‘Chat.’ Just the other day my access to www.mercurycougar.net was taken away for this reason. Prior to that the Urban Terror Forums and Above Top Secret were both taken from me.

I am sure your uninformed Internet user accesses Ebay on a regular basis, wouldn’t you think? I know it happens pretty regular at my employer. When will that web site be filtered for God knows what. Shopping? I admit, I search Ebay now and then for Cougar parts and cars, but don’t spend all 8 hours of work there.

More recently there has been a crack down on streaming media sites. I am sure this is the last thing employers want are users sucking up all the bandwidth watching YouTube.com or any of the other video sites out there. Now, I will admit I still stream audio at night. One by one my radio stations are being filtered out, such as KRXQ in Sacramento. Currently I listen to KOMP out of Las Vegas. I even sat here one night on NASA TV waiting for the arrival of the space shuttle.

I have been approached by some IT guy who told me that streaming audio eats up “serious bandwidth” and not to do it. I did not want to argue with him, when he does not have his facts straight on how little bandwidth is actually used. Not to mention, this was being streamed in the middle of the night, where I will venture a guess that Internet usage is probably very, very low. Again, just a guess on my part, maybe it was the principal of the whole thing. Bring a radio you say? I did, unfortunately it gets no reception in our office, situated on the ground floor with all sorts of interference.

It becomes more frustrating every day when you try to access a favorite site and it has been filtered out. Is this supposed to make me more productive as an employee? Probably, but the fact of the matter is, when I am on the Internet, I have very little work to do. Considering what I do for my employer there is time to dabble on the Internet while doing my job. Multitasking is something I can do, but again, I don’t think my employer, or any employer really gives a shit when it comes to tasking my job responsibility and the Internet.

If they do not want me on the Internet, then you better take my access away, because honestly that will be the only way to stop me. I would not know what to do with myself if I did not have Internet access, that is the age we live in. We need information at our fingertips. And I can honestly say that I have used the Internet for work related items previously. Since our office is no longer has cable television, it’s kinda of difficult to get up to the minute news. God forbid we have a serious crisis, like a terrorist attack or earthquake and no cable television.

Project Car or Junk?

Not really sure how I missed a valuable website. But somehow I overlooked www.mercurycougar.net, but as luck as it I stumbled upon it this past week. Needless to say, I have been spending hours pouring over thread after thread finding information that is relevant to my ’68. I was also able to find Delta Bay Mustang in Brentwood, CA. I just happened to stop by today and was able to purchase the Ford Motor Company Shop Manual for the 1968 Cougar/Fairlane/Montego/Mustang for $40.

The gutting of the Merc continues, as I have removed the bucket seats and will have the console and dash out shortly. Looking at the hardware for the seats it should  all be usable. I am not looking forward to pulling up the carpet as I  dread finding more rust on the floor pan. We will see. Lots of work ahead and very little money to get us there, that is why this is a project car.

The roof seems to be coming along nicely after a few  coats of the Jasco Prep & Primer. There is a thin, white film over the roof now. Paint is a loooong way off, so I am in no real hurry to get the pits filled, sanded and prepped, but at least we have stabled the metal (hopefully).?