68 XR7-Dads Cougah

From dusty barn find to daily driver, it seems our cars are never really done. This is the place to share your progress on your project car. We will celebrate your victories and commiserate over your tragedies. But most of all this is a great place to learn!
BigNuge
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68 XR7-Dads Cougah

Post by BigNuge » 08 Oct 2017, 08:40

After I did some digging, I figured this is the proper forum for the build thread. I have copy & pasted my initial post below.

First, a little about me and what I do. My name is Jim Nugent (unfortunately, no relation to good old Uncle Ted). I work in the Commercial/Industrial Boiler/Burner industry. I have always enjoyed fixing things/making things run right/solving problems. When I'm not being paid to do it, I'm doing it for fun in my shop. For years I've worked on cars/trucks/motorcycles/ATV's/all sorts of machines in less than desirable situations. My dad had me working under tarps, on the ground, in the winter/spring/summer/fall...all types of weather. Only in the last 2 years have I finally been able to put together a shop that I'm proud to call my own.....But, every time I open the doors to the rear/storage area of the building I see my dads 68. My first son (now 7) has asked me numerous times "when are we going to work on grandpas car"? The answer has always been "sometime in the future". I have always worked hard to prioritize things in life, and that keeps me thinking its never going to be the right time to begin the work on the Cougar. Well, I think I'm done with the waiting. I've come to terms with the idea that the car is going to take years to finish, and I can spend money in spurts to move things along. Basically, I was waiting to save a huge chunk of $$ before I even began the work....and I'll never build up enough to be happy with so I'm just gonna get off my but and get it started.

The car. It arrived at my dads house in Peabody Mass during the summer of 1983. I remember seeing it come in on a flatbed truck. The thing was 5 different colors, patches of paint and bondo, in terrible shape (at least that's how I recall it). My dad did just enough to get it on the road, and did things to it as the years went on. Eventually he built a 302 for it in our basement (I believe it was 1987 by this time). that motor was his baby, and he took his time building it. It eventually went into the car, and that was the power plant for years. Around that same timeframe he had both quarter panels replaced, vinyl top done, and a bunch of other body work done (body work was NOT hi forte, and I am the same way). The car was painted, and for the first time since I knew the car it was nice to look at. The car was dads pride and joy, but he didn't really do it "right" in my opinion. He had done things like replace the seats with ones from and 80's era vehicle that were (according to him) much more comfortable. Comfort aside, the seats in the car have no business being in there, they are atrocious, and I am most certainly taking them out at some point. Along the lines of "not doing things right", he installed a modern (for the late 80's) stereo system. Thankfully, I have many interior parts on hand, and I am hopeful I can return the car to a point much closer to where it should be.

Ok, so fast-forward to the early/mid 90's. I was in High School, my parents were divorced, and I lived with dad. During the summer of 1994 I had no car of my own, I totaled it in November of 1993. If I wanted to use the family car for fun on the weekends I had to prepare the Cougar for dad to drive for the weekend. That included washing and waxing it. Soooooo, just like I had done several times that summer, I went to prep the car for dad to use. We kept the car parked in a spot away from the driveway, as to keep people from bumping into it/risking their lives....lol. As always, I had to move the car close to the house to facilitate washing it. I grabbed the keys, and jumped in. I should mention that dad trusted me a lot. I should also mention that I, in no uncertain terms, knew that if I intentionally harmed this car that I was quite literally putting my life at risk. That said, the next few events were heart stopping for me. I put the key in, pull the choke (dad had run a manual choke knob into the car), and fire her up. She fired up, and was running normally. It was cammed up, so it was a lumpy idle even when warm. Sometimes, it would stall when it was cold, which it did this time. No worries, I had been there before, so I turned the key again. WELL.....my friggin heart stopped! The car started BUT it had an awful knock. I mean, this thing sounded like it spun a bearing. I immediately shut it down. Now, this was 2 solid hours before dad was due home from work. I knew I hadn't done anything to cause this, and I immediately went to the neighbors to secure them as a witness as to the car never even being revved above 2k, or ever leaving the driveway. Knowing that, I sat and contemplated my fate. Would dad snap my neck where I stood? Would he be cool and believe every word I said? Who knew, right?! Well, dad got home, big smile because it was Friday, fresh 12 pack in his hand. I just looked at him and said "dad, I have to tell you something about the Cougar". He immediately walked outside and saw that car sitting in its normal spot, and on the outside nothing looked amiss. He turned to me and asked what was up. I conveyed the story as best I could, and was sure to lead with the fact that he can check with the neighbors to verify my story. We went out to the car together, he started it for himself, and the noise was still there. He just boiled in his own juices for a bit, then he said "Jimmy, if I find out you took the car on a beat run I'll kill you". I acknowledged that, and reaffirmed him that I did nothing of the sort.

Safe to say my weekend of camping with my girlfriend was out, and I was automatically committed to pulling the 302 with dad. Got the motor out Saturday mid-day. Popped the heads off......what do we find, one of the lock nuts for the air cleaner has vibrated off, and fell into the carburetor, eventually making its way to cylinder #2, where the piston beat the thing into the head. The piston took a beating, the head took a beating. Suffice to say I was exonerated of all charges....lol. Dad, however, saw this as an opportunity to go to a 351, something he said he had wanted to do for a while. I thought it was a bad idea, the 302 was a great motor, and the car was plenty fun with the 302. It was his car, and he was going to go with the 351. The winter of 94-95 saw the coming of the 351. In the midst of the motor swap, he wanted to do electronic ignition. So, he was piecing together the parts needed for that when he got into a motorcycle accident (spring of 96). He survived the accident, but didn't make it after the fact (he signed himself out early, he HATED being at the hospital). I was just out of high school, and out on my own. I suddenly owned the car and had nowhere to keep it, and certainly had no time or money to put into it. My grandparents owned a building that they let me put a canvas garage on, and the car got stored there.

Jump to 2009. My grandparents sold the building, and the car needed to be moved. I had since bought my own home, with a large barn. I decided I'd just bring the car home, and store it in my barn. I got a tow dolly, and towed her home. The newest pictures I have are of that day. That is the last time I did anything with the car....that's all about to change. My son never met my father, and this car will be something special for me and my son (and my younger son, but he's only 7 months old).

The pictures (2009, before I did any work to it):













I want to tear it apart to assess everything. I pulled some of the interior already, I pulled the hood and trunk lid to prevent damage (they are both in very good shape). I have thrown all sorts of ideas around regarding the motor (keep it and rebuild it, sell it and go back to a 302, buy a crate motor for big $$$)...but I guess this is the best place to discuss those ideas!

I registered the VIN, and I ran it through the decoder.
VIN Decoder.pdf
(119.12 KiB) Downloaded 11 times
68 XR7

BigNuge
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Re: 68 XR7-Dads Cougah

Post by BigNuge » 08 Oct 2017, 08:48

So I got the process started yesterday. Got all the crap out from around it, and pulled it out of its hiding spot, and got it up on the lift for a thorough inspection.








So, the first in what I assume will be a long list of major items to tackle, the torque boxes....they are toast.




I got to work, and began by cutting the exhaust out all the way to the headers. To get the headers out, I had to pull the plugs (Jr. assisting me)...



I have the motor and tranny 75% ready to come out. I'll get them pulled out when I can get a couple more guys for muscle. I remember my father pulling the motor and tranny in one piece...heres to hoping Thats not too hard!


Stay tuned for updates!
68 XR7

elmn8tr69
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Re: 68 XR7-Dads Cougah

Post by elmn8tr69 » 09 Oct 2017, 20:48

Jim- great story and thanks for sharing - a lot of us on this forum have similar histories or stories with how a Cougar came into our lives. Keep the pictures coming and we look froward to the updates.
Chris Jones
69 Eliminator 351W M code Hertz Sunroof car
69 428CJ R/A 4 speed XR-7
69 XR-7 M code convertible

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1967 S Code
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Re: 68 XR7-Dads Cougah

Post by 1967 S Code » 10 Oct 2017, 08:41

Jim I'm enjoying the read and pictures so far. Keep the updates coming. It's awesome that your son is helping. It will build memories that will last a lifetime. In reference to your hood, what type of custom vents are those? I'd keep them in place if your father installed them.
Steven
Image

Our Cougars

Image

1967 Standard
Dan Gurney Special

6.5 Litre, Black / Black, AC Whisperaire, Am/FM, Sports Console,
Front and Rear Bumper Guards, Clock

1968 XR7-G
302 4V, Lime Frost / Black Leather, AM/FM, Black Vinyl, Tilt-A-Way
Heavy Duty Suspension, Power Disc Brakes, Rader Wheels


1968 XR7-G Hertz
390 4V, Black Cherry/ Dark Red Leather, Black Vinyl, Sunroof, Tilt-A-Way,
Cruise, Rear Defrost, AC Whisperaire


1968 Convertible Conversion "Top Cat"
Standard, 302 4V, XR7G Console, XR7G Front Valance

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R Code
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Re: 68 XR7-Dads Cougah

Post by R Code » 10 Oct 2017, 10:09

Nice project! Good Luck!
- Chris

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

BigNuge
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Location: New Hampshire

Re: 68 XR7-Dads Cougah

Post by BigNuge » 11 Oct 2017, 19:31

Thanks for the welcome guys....I’m looking forward to the project!
1967 S Code wrote:
10 Oct 2017, 08:41
Jim I'm enjoying the read and pictures so far. Keep the updates coming. It's awesome that your son is helping. It will build memories that will last a lifetime. In reference to your hood, what type of custom vents are those? I'd keep them in place if your father installed them.
Steven
Yeah, those have been on there since I’ve known the car. Not sure if dad got it that way, or put them on after. I’m not a huge fan of them, but that’s how dad had it, so I might just keep them like you said. They are aluminum, and they do a good job of covering the holes in the hood (assuming this car once had a scoop or something on it).

I was wondering, how difficult is a disc brake upgrade up front? That is something I’ve always planned on doing...just not sure what that is going to involve.
68 XR7

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JETEXAS
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Re: 68 XR7-Dads Cougah

Post by JETEXAS » 12 Oct 2017, 06:35

If you can bleed brakes, you can do a disc conversion. It's really not complicated.
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DieselD
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Re: 68 XR7-Dads Cougah

Post by DieselD » 12 Oct 2017, 09:43

Cool history, I always enjoy hearing the stories of a classic passed down through the generations and those resurrecting it to its former glory!
1968 Standard, 302 2v, 3 speed.

BigNuge
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Location: New Hampshire

Re: 68 XR7-Dads Cougah

Post by BigNuge » 12 Oct 2017, 12:19

So, I got the Marti Report via email today. Very interesting learning how the car was ordered, and all the details of the original build.

A couple things come to mind right away. First, the Marti Report says the car came with power disc brakes....yet I have drums up front??? Second, I absolutely LOVE the color that it came in originally (Black Cherry 3059-A). I will definitely be bringing that color back when the car is painted!

Anyway, I thought the info in the report was really cool, and I’m glad I ordered it! The car was ordered by a dealer in Lynn MA! So, it looks like this cat is still in its home area....all these years!
68 XR7

sfhess
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Re: 68 XR7-Dads Cougah

Post by sfhess » 12 Oct 2017, 14:29

BigNuge wrote:
11 Oct 2017, 19:31
Thanks for the welcome guys....I’m looking forward to the project!
1967 S Code wrote:
10 Oct 2017, 08:41
Jim I'm enjoying the read and pictures so far. Keep the updates coming. It's awesome that your son is helping. It will build memories that will last a lifetime. In reference to your hood, what type of custom vents are those? I'd keep them in place if your father installed them.
Steven
Yeah, those have been on there since I’ve known the car. Not sure if dad got it that way, or put them on after. I’m not a huge fan of them, but that’s how dad had it, so I might just keep them like you said. They are aluminum, and they do a good job of covering the holes in the hood (assuming this car once had a scoop or something on it).

I was wondering, how difficult is a disc brake upgrade up front? That is something I’ve always planned on doing...just not sure what that is going to involve.
Those vents look like they came off a 66 Chevelle SS.

Image

For a disc brake conversion: http://www.discbrakeswap.com/Mustang%20 ... TALOG.html

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