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.

Restoration: 1968 Mercury Cougar

In October, 2003 an opportunity presented  itself to me, by a friend I knew online. It was the chance to own a “project car” without having to pay anything except license,  registration and title/transfer fees. So I set off to Santa Rosa to pick  up my new toy. I was told it ran but needed work and a lot of TLC. The  current owner had inherited from his grandmother, who was the original  owner of this 1968 Mercury Cougar.

While the Cougar does run, as I had to drive it back from Santa Rosa to Concord and then to Oakley with expired tags and numerous other problems and issues, it has sat around while I plan a course of action. Since my move to Northern California, the first step after a few months was to join The Stray Cats Cougar Club. Since that time, I have begun minor work on the Cougar.

The major problem is rust, not only on the roof where the black vinyl top was. I have started pulling  the car apart starting with the trunk and working my way forward. While I cannot overlook the fire damage (electrical issue) in the truck and on the backseat, I have spotted areas of rust through out the trunk, but not nearly as severe as the roof. I have attempted to stabilize the rust  using Jasco Prep & Primer to convert it to a paintable surface,  followed by a primer.

I have also begun removing the interior from the old, torn headliner to the original black carpet and everything in between. The driver side door will not close (originally I could not get it open) and I suspect new hardware is required. The backseat has  been complete removed. As previously mentioned it does have fire damage on it, but the hardware looks intact.


Cougar Picnic

Sunday was our annual, Stray Cats Classic Cougar Picnic that took place in Milpitas, CA. It was the first time I attended, unfortunately without my ’68 Cougar, which is still sitting on jack stands….waiting. Yes, still waiting on my engine to be finished being rebuilt, but that’s another story.The wife and I got lost on the way down, after leaving late, which only added to the hot temperatures that peaked around the century mark throughout the day. But all was not lost, we arrived “fashionably late” as they would say in our bitchin’ Mazda truckster with Zoomie snoozing in his Captain Kirk chair, oblivious to the surroundings. It was a thing of beauty pulling up to the park and seeing some 30 Cougars “at rest” and on display.The car show was the center piece of the day, but there were other events that were scheduled, such as the BBQ, the Cougar Olympic games, raffle prizes and more. the judging was based on participant’s choice, as Cougars were divided up into five categories, including a “wounded cat” award for the best Cougar under restoration. I was hoping to have my Cougar ready because of that award. But as I said, a Cougar can’t roll without an engine.My wife and I both participated in the Cougar Olympics. the games consisted of four events; fan belt throw, rod throw, spark plug change and he hubcap throw. Believe it or not, my wife and I both came out as winners in separate events. I was dead on with the fan belt toss and won a t-shirt. My wife, in a shocker to me, won the spark plug changing contest. She was given a bit of pre-event assistance to break all the plugs before you unscrewed them. She too, won a t-shirt. We did not place in either of the other events, but they were fun nonetheless.Five dollars worth of raffle tickets yielded nada, while some people won 5-7 prizes during the raffle. No real big deal, there was nothing I could not live without. Lunch was good, with burgers and potato salad being served with sodas and cookies.We did bug out prior to the award ceremony due to the heat. Zoomie was looking hot and getting antsy as he was lying in his stroller in only his diapers. It was that hot, at least for him. So we left about 3:30pm and headed home. Talk about hot, we get home and it was only 104! All in all it was a great event and now I need to finish the write up and post the pictures for the club web site.?