The December 2016 Ride of the Month is Scott Zeller's '69 XR-7

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The December 2016 Ride of the Month is Scott Zeller's '69 XR-7


Post by xr7g428 » 06 Dec 2016, 20:23

Congratulations to Scott Zeller! His '69 XR-7 is the December 2016 Ride of the Month!

Scott Zeller lives in the Chicago area with his wife Rachel and two kids, James 10, and Susan 7. Their Cougar isn't the most rare, or the most powerful, but it is the one they love the most, and that is what makes every Cougar special.

Scott's story begins like this: "I never imagined that I would be able to purchase or maintain my own classic car. Since graduating from college, my focus (as well as my finances) were going towards raising a family and so the idea of stepping into the ‘hobby’ seemed a bit unrealistic and out of reach for me. I must have dropped enough hints to my wife, Rachel, over these last 10 years that I wanted to buy a classic car because one day she finally said to me “Why don’t you just do it? It’s either now or never”. I shut my mouth and began my search that evening.

A Cougar with a not so modest beginning...

Grosse Pointe Michigan is, at best, diminutive in size. Barely encompassing two and half square miles, it is one of five small lake front communities that collectively make up an area called The Points. What the area lacks in sheer size is completely overwhelmed by the people that have claimed this small town enclave as home. Lets start with Henry Ford II. The list of Ford royalty just keeps on coming; Edsel Ford, Edsel Ford II, Elena Ford, Martha Firestone Ford, and William Clay Ford Sr., among many others.

Serving Grosse Pointe in 1969 was Frank Adam Lincoln Mercury. It must have been challenging to represent the finest of Ford Motor Companies products literally under the nose of the family with their name on the building. It was no secret that any vehicle ordered for the Frank Adam agency would most probably end up in the hands of Ford family friends and acquaintances.


Perhaps it was the Grosse Point dealer address that inspired the production planners in the Dearborn plant, but some how a '69 Cougar XR-7 was ordered on February 20th, a Thursday afternoon, and serialized, bucked, built, delivered and sold by the following Friday the 28th, all five days in advance of the scheduled build date. Miracles do happen if you live in the same neighborhood as HF II!


A gorgeous Cougar it was. A black vinyl roof matched the black paint. The Dark Red Leather seats accented the Cougars classy understated appearance. The rest of the options are what you would expect to find in Mercury's finest sporty car. Color keyed floor mats, Wide Oval tires, Sports Console with Clock, Power front Disc Brakes, Power Steering, Tilt-Away Steering Wheel, Whisper-Aire Air Conditioning, AM/FM Stereo Radio, and Deluxe Belts with warning light. Under the hood was the ample 351 Windsor 2V sending power to an FMX Select Shift automatic. Out back a 3.00 standard axle put the power to the ground.


As nice as the New Cougar was, it did not see much use. From February 1969 to June of 1993 the Cougar would cover only 29,758 miles, and average of only 1239 miles per year. Three more owners would put less than ten thousand miles on the Cougar in the next 22 years. In June of 2015 the Cougar had about as many miles as a typical three year old car, a measly 39,643.


For once, Craigslist delivers more than it promises.

It was in 2015 that Scott Zeller began his search for his first classic car. Scott explains the process. "When I decided to go find my first classic car, I looked at a few different Fords: Mustang, Torino, maybe a Fairlane 500. The more I thought about which car to buy and the more I attended local shows and spoke with other Ford enthusiasts, I came to realize that these vehicles were not the right fit for me. The majority of car collectors I spoke with talked about the history of the vehicle and how it was an important part of who they were growing up. I came to realize that what I was searching for, and what I was completely nostalgic for, was in fact the Cougar." "I began speaking to other Cougar owners, researching parts, watching countless videos and collecting hordes of information on the Cougar. This confirmed everything for me. I started searching for Cougars through a lot of online channels since my network of fellow Cougar owners was not very extensive."

Scott would find his Cougar listed on Craigslist in Flat Rock Michigan. The ad was barely adequate; not much information, and only a few pictures. But there was this: It was a documented very low mileage car with original paint. Scott did not hesitate. "I called the owner immediately after I saw the ad and we spoke for an hour while I was at work. I took endless notes, asked as many questions that I could think of, and agreed to come out and see the car in person that weekend. In my mind, I began to romanticize this journey to my car and how I would bring her home. I booked a one-way ticket on the Wolverine Amtrak line from Chicago to Detroit and stayed over night at the GM Renaissance Center Hotel. The next morning, I opted to rent a car and drove into Flat Rock to meet the owner. Pulling up to his house, I saw the newly washed Cougar sitting alongside collection of muscle cars - a 2015 Charger, a 2008 highly modified Mustang, and a brand new 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat! The owner originally did want to sell the Cougar, but with his recent purchase of the new Hellcat, his wife put her foot down and told him that one of his cars had to go."


The XR7 was in great condition. A massive binder of documentation from the past 4 owners confirmed the 39,643 miles were accurate and original. Incredibly, the Black Cat had never left Michigan. Scott describes what he found like this. "I found no rust anywhere and, with the exception of a gaping hole in one of the mufflers, the car was very solid. The original leather seats were worn but still in really good shape with no discoloration. The only fading I saw was on the package tray and sail panels. After driving the car around town with the owner, I put down the cash, got the title, ordered the enclosed trailer for pick up and had it shipped to Chicago. I couldn't drive it back home as there were several large boxes of parts, four additional Goodyear tires and the original XR7 hubcaps to bring back. So I drove the rental back to Chicago and began sweeping the garage floor with anticipation."


Low mileage original cars are becoming he most sought after examples of any make, so it comes as no surprise that Scott would use great care in deciding what to do next. "I wanted to improve on some of the safety and performance issues of the car while still keeping much of the originality.

Electrical issues came first. I upgraded the signals - adding a solid state sequential with all new wiring, fuses and a new turn signal switch. After hearing a miss in the engine and the occasional stall, I installed the Pertronix ignition with a new coil, plugs, and wires and got it running smooth with a strong idle.


Next came new front and rear shocks, (KYB Excel-G), new Moog bushings and a much needed right strut rod replacement, for a much more comfortable ride.


The Summer 2016 was devoted to the AC system. A leaky compressor, finicky clutch, and a clogged AC Expansion valve were all addressed. "Instead of waiting weeks for a compressor rebuild, Classic Auto Air set me up with a correct replacement and I managed to find a mechanic in Chicagoland with a 30 lb tank of R12 who filled the system up after replacing all other parts."

When asked about the best attribute of his car Scott told us this: "I probably receive more comments on the original interior than anything else. Other Cougar owners have told me that they wished they still had their original interior and I am proud to say that I have also won a few awards for this attribute at the local shows. Honestly, the best feature of the Cougar is the Cougar itself - it is not a common car to see at the shows and that is what stands out more than any other feature on my car. You can line up a row of Mustangs that each have some unique or desirable feature, but having the only Cougar at a show - now THAT IS truly desirable!"


In closing Scott really summed things up perfectly: "These cars really stood for something and often they made statements. More importantly, I consider so many classic cars timeless, like a great piece of art. When you look at it, it becomes emotional. When you drive it, it becomes visceral. It’s just a wonderful thing!" We could not agree more.

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

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Re: The December 2016 Ride of the Month is Scott Zeller's '69 XR-7


Post by berns68 » 06 Dec 2016, 20:49

Congratulations Scott! Your car deserves ROTM honors! :beerchug:

1968 Standard Hardtop, Nordic Blue
302 F code, updated to 4V
Originally 1 of 2
ROTM May 2014
C.A.T.S. Classic Cougar Club member #16-10
CCOA member #9618

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Re: The December 2016 Ride of the Month is Scott Zeller's '69 XR-7


Post by jcbingcougar » 06 Dec 2016, 21:58

Beautiful car! Congratulations on the win.
Jeff Bingaman
1970 Cougar
1956 Ford F100
1960 Dodge Phoenix
2017 Mustang GT Premium
2017 F150 Platinum

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Re: The December 2016 Ride of the Month is Scott Zeller's '69 XR-7


Post by badcatt » 07 Dec 2016, 00:00

I love the story. Congratulations Scott.
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
- Mark Twain -

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Re: The December 2016 Ride of the Month is Scott Zeller's '69 XR-7


Post by BossElim69 » 07 Dec 2016, 06:49

Congrats Scott! Another Cougar you will see at the Dearborn 50th. Scott has jumped into the Cougar community with both feet. He has been a big help to the CATS club serving as Club services direct. We wouldn't have our excellent web site if it wasn't for Scott's design skills.
Last edited by BossElim69 on 07 Dec 2016, 09:42, edited 1 time in total.
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
69 standard convertible
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

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Re: The December 2016 Ride of the Month is Scott Zeller's '69 XR-7


Post by 93RGTE » 07 Dec 2016, 09:29

Beautiful car, great story - Congratulations, Scott!
Another nice write-up by Bill, too!

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Re: The December 2016 Ride of the Month is Scott Zeller's '69 XR-7


Post by zman » 07 Dec 2016, 19:41

Great story.
69 Cougar 351W 4V, FMX Auto, PS,PDB, AC
55 Ford 2dr Customline 302 4sp
18 Ford F150 Super Crew 4x4 5.0
2012 Ford Fusion SEL
97 Arctic Cat Cougar 550 L/C
99 Arctic Cat Jag 440

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Re: The December 2016 Ride of the Month is Scott Zeller's '69 XR-7


Post by SPLINEHEAD » 08 Dec 2016, 10:41

Congrats Scott! I didn't even have to vote 100 times for this one!

Gary Hill
Pole Cat
1969 XR7 390 S code 4bbl C6 3.0 TrueTrac rear end

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Re: The December 2016 Ride of the Month is Scott Zeller's '69 XR-7


Post by scottfzeller » 08 Dec 2016, 20:42

Thanks everyone for the kind words and support! Bill is a wizard with words and I appreciate all the work he does for this site and for the Cougar community! Happy holidays everyone - thanks for letting me share my story!
Scott Zeller
1969 Cougar XR7
CCOA Member# 9559
ROTM December 2016: ... =33&t=7055
C.A.T.S. Classic Cougar Club - Club Services Director

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Re: The December 2016 Ride of the Month is Scott Zeller's '69 XR-7


Post by sweetair » 09 Dec 2016, 12:46

Congratulations on ROTM! Hope she brings you smiles for years to come.
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- ... etair+ROTM

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