20 Years in the making... My Cougar Story

This is the place for your Cougar adventure stories. Do you drive your Classic Cougar? Tell us about it!
Post Reply
angel of death
New Member
Posts: 1
Joined: 18 Oct 2019, 14:46

20 Years in the making... My Cougar Story


Post by angel of death »

After reading others stories I felt it might be important to share my own as it revolves around all the little curve balls life likes to throw at us.

In 1998, I graduated from high school. I had always been a fan of classic cars and used to go to car shows with my grandpa since I was a little kid. For my graduation gift to myself I found a 1968 Mercury Cougar 4spd with a 302 for sale about two hours or so from where I lived. Knowing my parents would probably kill me if i brought it home I got my Grandpa to drive down to take a look at it. We looked at it and it need some work (had a little damage to the rear from a light crash which was cosmetic). After a week pondering we made an agreement to meet up with the owner half way and do the deal. After bringing it home my grandpa went to the ropes for me. I knew how to drive stick but for the first several days I couldn't get used to her.

I spent a lot of time cleaning her up and even took her to a few car shows (she definately wasn't show car material but I was a young and dumb overly proud kid). In 1999 I found a painter who had been long retired. Not having much money my grandfather and I did as best we could on the body work and this guy sprayed it for me. It turned out ok, which considering what I paid is more then fair. I went on to show it again, got it some Crager SS wheels and tires and did the little things to it.

I moved to Florida in 2000 and went to college. I didnt' have much time to work on her or even keep up with her as I was working two jobs and going to school full time. I still showed her when I could. I got to take her to the Turkey Rod Run in Daytona which was very memorable. But as life has its way I got a job and despite several moves she started to have issues and wouldn't start so she sat. After i got a full time job all I did was work. I still kept her but she sat neglected and i pulled the tag and she was officially off the road. That was sometime in 2005.

In 2014 my grandfather passed away of cancer and I lost my closest friend. After struggling with my loss I decided to redirect my energy toward something positive. I sat out to get her back on the road. And so began the adventure all over again.

I replaced the starter, fuel lines, carburetor, and finally got it running. As soon as it was running the radiator gave out and sprung leaks. So then went the water pump, I did an aluminum larger radiator, replaced hoses, added cooling fans and she could run.

I had a friend who owns a shop help me with some of the stuff I couldn't tackle but he put it on the back burner and I was too motivated to let that happen again. After about 6 months I pulled it from his shop and paid him. I ordered a kit and had a shop do the front disc brake conversion. Now I could stop and they worked great... however... i didnt realize until recent just how much stuff they messed up (see later).

After getting tires it was back on the road and so set the next adventure. Luckily the car was garaged for a part of it's later life, but the amateur body work started to rear its head. The rot had rusted thru the rear window and several other locations on the body. The front of the hood and the deck lid lips were both pretty much rotted away. A friend of mine was starting a paint shop with his brother so I got a quote from them. I had to order a hood so I got a fiberglass one. I drove to pick it up in Florida and brought it home. The hood was not made right and would not fit the car. So I had to ship my hood to them so they could cast a mold and make it. Car was off the road another almost 6 months.

I got it back now and the paint looks awesome. I pulled the carpet and por 15 all under the floor boards which had some surface rust and a few small holes. I now put the carpet back in.

I take it for drives every couple of weeks. She still loves to give me problems.

I am hoping that I can learn a bit from the members in here as I have just realized there are a ton of problems and quirks that I discovered in rehashing this project. A friend of mine who redid his GTO suggested I find a forum like this as it has helped him greatly with his rebuild.

As of right now... I found out when they did my brake conversion they removed the dash. Well in doing so they didn't connect things and I keep finding more and more as I go. The wiper motor wasn't connected (fixed now), reverse lights (were on a switch) now switch no longer works, head lights will turn on but now the hideaway covers won't go up (found that out this week). I also got to find a way to mount a new shift boot down as the hole is pretty big and the stock boot don't have anything to screw into.

What I have learned about the car.. kinda.. It has an 86 ford 302 engine which was built and blue printed, it has a 69 boss 302 four speed, they gutted the sequentials before I got it so have nothing back there at all other then wiring for the tail lights. I got a nasty vibration that no one seems to have figured out (tried replacing the harmonic balancer but still didn't fix it).

I am hoping for some advice and some help which would be greatly appreciated. Right now first priority is the headlights. I am hoping they didn't put the vacuum line back into the light switch? But honestly not sure or even sure how to begin that project.

Here is the car out of the paint shop.


User avatar
Registered Member
Posts: 459
Joined: 25 Dec 2010, 02:26
Location: Around FT. Bragg, NC

Re: 20 Years in the making... My Cougar Story


Post by 69XR7Ragtop »

Dude, I love the blue! Some purist on here will not go for the side scoops, but I happen to think they are OK. Looks good to me!

As far as the headlight doors, they probably hooked up the vac lines wrong on the headlight switch. That or they did away with the vacuum tank under the fender that runs the cover movement. Not knowing more of what they are or are not doing and not being able to see the system this is purely a WAG (wild ass guess).
You will need to trace the vac lines and provide pics for members here to look at to help you with specifics.

Welcome to the madness! The members here are extremely helpful, just be sure to ask specific questions and provide pics as needed so we can help the best we can.

Previous: 69 XR7 Hardtop, 351W, FMX
Current: 69 XR7 Convertible, Tweaked 351W, TL 4 Speed (Almost completed restoration--drive all the time, but you are never really done!)
Current: 70 XR7 Convertible, 351C, TL 4 Speed Grabber blue (Yet to be restored--waiting patiently)

Registered Member
Posts: 1316
Joined: 20 Aug 2013, 08:24
Location: Elizabethtown PA

Re: 20 Years in the making... My Cougar Story


Post by CATHOUSE »

Welcome aboard. My first suggestion would be that you add a location to your profile. You may find that you are close to another member or a local Cougar club group.

If the headlight vacuum lines are not attached to the headlight switch you will hear the vacuum leaking under the dash when the car is running. Do you hear leaking vacuum? Another possibility would be that the shop did put the lines back onto the switch but not in the proper order. The vacuum lines are color coded and there is a matching color dab at each port on the headlight switch. Other wise I would recommend that you do a visual inspection of all the vacuum lines. You might find one that is not connected, loose, torn, or damaged.

Your vibration problem could be a result of mismatched parts. You have a later model engine with an older transmission. There was a point in time where Ford changed the way that they balanced their engines. If you have the wrong flywheel or harmonic balancer that could be the problem. I know that you said that the balancer has been replaced however if it was the wrong one that would not solve the vibration problem. Has the vibration problem been there since you bought the car? Or is it a recent problem?

Randy Goodling
CCOA #95

User avatar
Registered Member
Posts: 806
Joined: 17 Dec 2011, 16:07
Location: Langley, BC, Canada

Re: 20 Years in the making... My Cougar Story


Post by fordnutz »

I have downloaded several schematics, including the 1968 vacuum diagnosis guide courtesy of West Coast Classic Cougar (https://secure.cougarpartscatalog.com/). They have a lot of great information, tips, tricks, and of course parts.

The file is too large to post on this forum, but I can e-mail it to you. My contact is below.
Thanks, Scott Ferguson
President, Fordnutz Cougar Club
E-mail President@Fordnutz.org
Visit the Fordnutz Cougar Club on the web http://www.fordnutz.org
Past Chairman, Cascade Cougar Club
Past Chairman, Cougar Club of America

Registered Member
Posts: 731
Joined: 24 Jan 2017, 14:06
Location: Arizona

Re: 20 Years in the making... My Cougar Story


Post by DieselD »

Welcome, great story and nice work hanging on to your cougar to see it through and the best part is it tells a story of your life.

see above tip above about the vibration. Being a later model engine that could be your issue. its a 28oz vs 50oz and IIRC the 50oz balancers come into play around 1980 and after.
1968 Standard, 302 2v, 3 speed.
Work in progress...

Post Reply