The November 2016 Ride of the Month is Sweetair's '69 390 Convertible!

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The November 2016 Ride of the Month is Sweetair's '69 390 Convertible!

#1

Post by xr7g428 » 11 Nov 2016, 18:40

Congratulations! to Bill August, Sweetair, on the November 2016 Ride of the Month!

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October 14th, 1968

It had been 22 months since the last manned space flight. The Apollo 1 tragedy, resulting in the deaths of three astronauts, had been like a slap in the face to many Americans. This going to the moon thing really was dangerous. So seeing live television coming from the just launched Apollo 7 capsule was reassuring. Technology was amazing; TV live from outer space! Of course all three Astronauts were also battling terrible head-colds so maybe there were still a few things that we hadn't quite figured out.

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But things were gong well at Thomas Ford Mercury in Lebanon Springs New York. A customer had just placed his order for a new Cougar convertible. The order would be carefully coded on a Scan-Tron form and then mailed to the District Sales office. The filled in dots would define a very nice Cougar that would turn out to be the only one built exactly like that.
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Ordering the XR-7 Convertible got you a lot to start out with. Adding the venerable 390 4V engine, 4 speed close ration transmission and power front disc brakes would make this a very capable cat. Maybe skipping the power steering was a nod towards getting a better feel of the road, but that big 390 would make parking a chore. Goodrich Wide Oval white wall tires would put the power to the pavement. A Heavy Duty Battery, Heavy Duty Suspension and the Extra Cooling package would insure that this Cougar was up to any task put in front of it. This would be a drivers car. Only an AM radio would come along for the ride. The Bright Blue Metallic paint would be set off by the white leather bucket seats with blue appointments, and a white convertible top. This would be a stunning car.

In what must have seemed like an eternity, the car was finally built nearly a month after the order was entered and delivered on November 26th, two days before Thanksgiving. We don't know much about the years in between, but some how the Cougar would travel through time and end up not that far from it's upstate New York beginnings.

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Fast Forward... June 2011

Bill August had been looking for a classic car for quite a while. He knew it needed to be a Ford, having been raised in a Ford family, and the Cougar really took his breath away. But his Cougar would not be easy to find: his list included some important boxes that had to be checked: Convertible, Big Block FE power, and most of all, it HAD to be a 4 speed! We don't know if Bill knew the numbers at the time, but there were only 154 FE powered Cougar convertibles with 4 speed transmissions. And that includes the 428 CJ powered cars. He was looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Then he got lucky. A Classic Car dealer in New Jersey, just outside of Philadelphia, had a nice one.

A member at ClassicCougarCommunity.Com happened to be fairly close by and made the preliminary check on the car and it looked promising. Bill decided that he was up for making a personal visit to check the car out. Initially he thought he might buy the car and drive it home. He had to be sure this was the right car. As it turned out he left that night without the car. The idea of driving it home had been great to think about, but the truth was that driving an unknown, nearly 50 year old, car for over 150 miles was not a good idea.

After some careful soul searching Bill decided to pull the trigger. Only this time he would rent a U-Haul trailer and do the right thing. Bill describes the trip this way. " This was one of the best rides I have ever taken. Looking back in the rear view mirror seeing her sitting there, it was like looking at another newborn. I almost could not stop looking back in the rear view mirror. I couldn't take my eyes off of her." It was his first classic car and also his first Cougar.

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Bill's father, now 84, was a big influence on his automotive passion. Bill put it this way. "He taught me the importance of up-keeping a car and more importantly how to do it. He himself was taught this by an uncle who owned a gas station while growing up in the Bronx. When you have a good "teacher", one you admire and trust, the learning can be very easy. On weekends my dad would do any car work that needed to be done and I would be there by his side. My dad taught me how to do oil changes, brake jobs, changing and adjusting points, even fixing exhaust systems. Pretty soon the weekend car maintenance would entail me doing the work and my dad handing me the tools as needed. A "changing of the guard" if you will." And they are still working on cars together. "Just last weekend, my dad came down from NY with his 2002 Grand Marquis with 240,000+ miles on it and I did the oil change and greased all 12 fittings on it as he watched on."

As with any "new" old car the Cougar would need some TLC. Bill's new Cougar was no exception. Of course there were all of the usual tasks, refreshing the oil anti-freeze and chasing down a bad brake line or two. Then a leaking convertible top cylinder led to replacement of both sides. New shocks and a complete front end rebuild came next. But there was one problem that would be even more perplexing. It seemed that the clutch was slipping and there was an odd vibration when driving in reverse.

With the assistance of Dennis Love a local master mechanic they pulled the transmission and discovered a couple of very odd problems. The clutch was slipping, but not from wear. In the front of the top loader there was supposed to be a plug over the end of the reverse counter gear shaft. A dime had been hammered into the hole and 90 weight gear oil was leaking out of the transmission. If that were not odd enough, the top left mounting ear was completely broken off. The transmission was being held in place by only three bolts! On top of everything else, unlike the numbers matching correct engine, the transmission was not original to the car. A call to Dan Williams of Toploader Transmissions in NC resulted in a rebuilt wide ratio box. The lower first gear would improve the off the line performance given the 3.0 rear gears. An upgrade to a short throw Hurst Competition shifter finished off the package.

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Then there is always the stuff that leaves you scratching your head. The Cougar had developed a very odd intermittent problem. It would start with a rough idle, just keeping it running was a challenge, but the tach would strangely begin climbing past 3,000, then 4,000 then even 5,000 RPM but the engine would barely be running. The consensus on ClassicCougarCommunty.Com was a bad tach. A replacement from Rocketman did not sole the problem. Jumper wires to bypass the tach and resistor wires made no difference. And being intermittent, it would sometimes fix itself and run perfectly. After a few months of total frustration, with fall coming on and temperatures dropping, Bill noticed that it wasn't cranking over quite as quickly as it should. It turned out the battery was dated 2005, at this point, eight years old. When he replaced the battery the strange electrical problem was solved. Apparently the old battery had a bad cell, and under the right circumstances it was causing all of the electrical issues.

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There have a been several well considered upgrades. LED lighting, a electronic tail light sequencer, 15 x 7" OE style chrome rims with wider tires, a new front sway bar, export brace, and many other small details, have all contributed to making his Cougar a real pleasure to drive. The most recent touch was putting the pin stripes down both sides.

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Bill says his greatest joy is driving the Cougar. " Now that she is in great running and presentation shape it truly is just great to jump in and drive her. She really is a gem. A one of a kind. The color combined with the white rag top, the 4 speed and the 390 all make for an amazing mix. The best attribute of this car is the reaction people give me when I drive it. Just today I had 3 people say something to me when I was driving."

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So if you are out in the hills of Maryland, keep you eyes peeled for the Bright Blue Cougar Convertible, and be sure to say hello if you get a chance.

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Bill Basore, Editor / Publisher
Legendary Cougar Magazine
Currently in the Cat House
'67 XR7 GT 390 4 speed, AC, AM FM, Lime Frost Green
'68 XR7-G 428CJ C6, Tilt-Away, AM, Black Cherry
'68 XR7-G 390 4 speed, Sunroof, Cardinal Red
'68 XR7 GT-E 427 C6 AM Cardinal Red
'68 XR7 resto mod 351W, soon to be AOD, Black Cherry

sweetair
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Re: The November 2016 Ride of the Month is Sweetair's '69 390 Convertible!

#2

Post by sweetair » 13 Nov 2016, 21:14

Bill and Co.

Thank you for the nod for November ROTM. I was surprised to see her nominated. Thank you for those who read the terrific write up Bill did, he has a way with words for sure.

These cars we have and this passion we all have is special to each one of us. When you read the posts people write regarding answering a question or giving an inspirational bit of advice, it shows that you care.

I've enjoyed this car for over 5 years and will continue to enjoy her for many more. Just yesterday my friend Dennis, who I mentioned in the write up were chasing down a vacuum leak on her and found a few. Now I'll need to replace a few hoses and readjust the warm idle after doing so since we raised it during the investigation of the leak. And I'll enjoy every minute of it.

Thanks for reading guys/gals.

Bill August
2013 Taurus SHO w/PP DAILY DRIVER
2008 Expedition------Family Duties
2003 Marauder supercharged, 14" Baer brake kit, MMC driveshaft and loop, widened rear rims now 9.5" (total sleeper)
1969 Cougar XR7 S code, 4 speed, convertible, 1of42. A gem!!
November 2016 ROTM- https://classiccougarcommunity.com/foru ... etair+ROTM

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badcatt
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Re: The November 2016 Ride of the Month is Sweetair's '69 390 Convertible!

#3

Post by badcatt » 14 Nov 2016, 00:31

Congratulations Bill. You have a sweet ride here.
Neal Jacobson.
1970 XR-7 White "Ginger"
1970 XR-7 Convertible Blue For Sale.
1971 XR-7 Bright Blue with Blue "Up Beat" interior For Sale.
1970 Standard 428CJ Competition Yellow The New Money Pit.
See ya on the hiways,
The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter,
they are an entire banquet
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- Mark Twain -

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BossElim69
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Re: The November 2016 Ride of the Month is Sweetair's '69 390 Convertible!

#4

Post by BossElim69 » 14 Nov 2016, 07:00

Congrats on ride of the month. Sharp looking 69.
Brian Carpenter, President CATS classic Cougar club
67 Cougar road course racer
67 Cougar project car
67 Cougar GT
68 XR7-G trailer queen restoration.
68 Restomod
69 Boss 302 Eliminator
69 XR7 390 survivor
69 XR7 428CJ 4spd
70 Boss 302 Mustang
1993 Harley Davidson
2004 F250 diesel
2004 Jeep Overland 4.7L H.O.
78 Ford F 150 Ranger
08 Cobalt SS

sweetair
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Re: The November 2016 Ride of the Month is Sweetair's '69 390 Convertible!

#5

Post by sweetair » 14 Nov 2016, 08:27

Thank you.
2013 Taurus SHO w/PP DAILY DRIVER
2008 Expedition------Family Duties
2003 Marauder supercharged, 14" Baer brake kit, MMC driveshaft and loop, widened rear rims now 9.5" (total sleeper)
1969 Cougar XR7 S code, 4 speed, convertible, 1of42. A gem!!
November 2016 ROTM- https://classiccougarcommunity.com/foru ... etair+ROTM

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Don Rush
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Re: The November 2016 Ride of the Month is Sweetair's '69 390 Convertible!

#6

Post by Don Rush » 14 Nov 2016, 13:35

I can totally relate!

" This was one of the best rides I have ever taken. Looking back in the rear view mirror seeing her sitting there, it was like looking at another newborn. I almost could not stop looking back in the rear view mirror. I couldn't take my eyes off of her."

Congrats, and after all this time your enthusiasm level is still just as high!

sweetair
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Re: The November 2016 Ride of the Month is Sweetair's '69 390 Convertible!

#7

Post by sweetair » 14 Nov 2016, 16:29

The enthusiasm is there for sure Don. I'll be calling you guys soon to hopefully get some vacuum hoses for her as that is the new project to do.
2013 Taurus SHO w/PP DAILY DRIVER
2008 Expedition------Family Duties
2003 Marauder supercharged, 14" Baer brake kit, MMC driveshaft and loop, widened rear rims now 9.5" (total sleeper)
1969 Cougar XR7 S code, 4 speed, convertible, 1of42. A gem!!
November 2016 ROTM- https://classiccougarcommunity.com/foru ... etair+ROTM

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R Code
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Re: The November 2016 Ride of the Month is Sweetair's '69 390 Convertible!

#8

Post by R Code » 14 Nov 2016, 17:36

Congrats Bill, cool car & a cool story. I remember when you bought it.
- Chris

1967 Std 4 speed conversion
1969 XR-7 "R Code" Convertible
1989 Merkur XR4Ti

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Re: The November 2016 Ride of the Month is Sweetair's '69 390 Convertible!

#9

Post by rcode » 20 Nov 2016, 16:13

Congratulations Bill. A sweet, rare ride!

rcode
69 XR7 CJ Black plate Triple R car, original selling dealer:
Star Lincoln Mercury, Glendale, CA
03 Cobra (ordered new)
LaBelle Ford LaBelle, Fl
"Tonight, We Ride"!

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Re: The November 2016 Ride of the Month is Sweetair's '69 390 Convertible!

#10

Post by DeadStang » 20 Nov 2016, 23:43

Very nice! 8-)

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