New member, Cougars I've owned

This is the place for your Cougar adventure stories. Do you drive your Classic Cougar? Tell us about it!
Post Reply
Wallgeye
Registered Member
Posts: 17
Joined: 23 May 2016, 17:34

New member, Cougars I've owned

#1

Post by Wallgeye » 23 May 2016, 19:55

Hey everyone!

New member, have owned 3 Cougars over the years. Please excuse the grammar.

I have never owned a really nice Cougar, I still don't. My first, a 69 was purchased off a bargain lot for $300 back in the mid eighties when I was 16. The thing had a popped heater core that I discovered on the way home. Seeing this was my second car ever owned I was clueless as to why the windshield was fogging up on a nice summers day. I figured it out when the car over heated on the freeway and I had to be pushed onto an off ramp by a highway patrol car that stopped to help me out. Dad told me the car had a coolant leak. (that's what the green puddle was on the passenger floor!) We let it cool off some, added a bit of water from dads kit in the trunk and I made it home. After the heater core was replaced, I learned how to replace a rusted out frost plug on the engine block. Next surprise was the brakes. I took the wheels off to grease the suspension and discovered the drivers side brake rotor was worn to the cooling fins and the pads were down to metal! I learned how to do a brake job right then and there! Winters in Minnesota were not nice to car bodies back then. Even thought the car was only about 14 years old this car got the worst of the salt damage from the winter roads. Rotted out floor boards and as I discovered one day, the body sagged so much on jack stands that the passenger door would not open! The torque box was so bad I couldn't support it with a jack, it started to collapse into the body when I let the jack down. I think I sold it for scrap after maybe a year.

My second one was not as bad. A '67 I bought from the guy who got me into cougars in the first place. I drove that through high school. Two footing the gas and brakes to keep a cold engine running in -20 for the short drive to school. Lots of weekend nights cruising with friends, trying to soup it up on the budget of a kid making about $4/hr working at the local pizza joint. I did my first front suspension rebuild on this car. I used my graduation money to buy a complete rebuild kit for it. Not complete upper A arms, but shaft kits, new lower arms, spring perch, etc. Boy was I proud of myself for completing that with no help! I had the summer of 86 to play with the car then had to put it in storage for a few months while I left for Army basic training.

After basic and ait ( 63B Light wheel vehicle mechanic) I was assigned to Fort Lewis, WA. After getting settled in there I took some leave to go home and get my car. It started up after throwing a charge on the battery and I drove it home to give it a once over before driving from Minneapolis to Tacoma, alone In Minnesota the speed limit was still 55 at the time. In fact, the law raising the limit to 65 was set to take effect about 2 weeks from the time I started my drive to WA. Of course I was doing 65 anyway, going with the flow of traffic when I saw a state trooper heading the opposite way stand on his brakes and turn around. He pulled about 5 cars over at the same time, I don't remember how. I was at the back of the line and he started with me. I actually was buckled in with the lap belt at the time but unhooked to reach the glove box and get my registration for him before he got to the car. The officer started out a bit aggressive. (this being only the second time I had ever been pulled over, my experiences with the police was virtually nil.) He asked me why I was not wearing my seat belt. I explained that I did have it on, that I only had lap belts and he could not see that I was wearing it and that I had unhooked anticipating him wanting to see the registration. After going back and forth several times with him I was resigned to getting a ticket for the seat belt and speeding so I gave up on it. Once he did ask for license, registration he got my leave papers also. Boy, it was like flipping a switch! The horns disappeared and his demeanor did a complete 180. He ended up telling me to keep it at 55 for the last 20 or so miles I had left before I crossed into North Dakota where the speed limit already was 65. Lol He wished me a safe trip and moved on to the next car in the line! I94 through Idaho is a lot of fun, even in a beater car! I made it to base 2 days later tired and suntanned on my left arm. :)

Lastly, my current Cougar, a 68 that actually had paint at the time. Black with black vinyl roof, blue pinstripes and chrome keystone raiders. A guy I knew in the service was getting out. Had a young family and was planning on driving from WA to Maine. A few months before getting out he blew the engine. Bought and installed a junkyard engine. That one also blew up after a few weeks. He decided to sell instead of risk breaking down on the drive home. 500 bucks and it was mine with blown engine. The 67 body was not as nice as I had thought. I had some floor rust, quarter panel, etc. so I thought I would use the best of both cars to get one running one. The 289 and tranny that I rebuilt in high school went into the 68. I saved what I could off the 67 before calling a scrapper in to take the hulk away. :( Oh, the blown engine I removed had been fixed by adding sawdust to the crankcase. The only thing I was able to save were the heads, a rod cap let loose, took the one on the same journal out and busted the bottom of the cylinder. Lifter valley was full of this sawdust soaked with oil. I can still smell it!

Over 8 years in the Army, I drove that car round trip to Minneapolis 4 times. In August of 90 I think, a buddy was getting out and wanted to see the country. He offered to pay for gas from Fort Lewis, to West Virginia and back to Minneapolis. So with 30 days leave we took off. Misjudged one of the first gas stops and resorted to shutting off the radio to save gas, LOL and coasting down hills before making the first open gas station west of Spokane that was open, Who knew that a gas station in the middle of WA would not be open at 2am??? Hence the white knuckle ride to the next town of Spokane. I think I had a half gallon left in the tank if the capacity was correct. We had a great laugh in North Dakota when driving through a construction zone Bill asked me if the giant piles along the road was coal. I looked and thought about it before realizing it was just dirt from the construction. Bill commented y'all have black dirt up here? I replied wtf other color would dirt be? He then told me it was reddish in WV. :) We stopped at my place and spent a week with my family. Saddled up and headed to Springfield IL to see another buddy that recently left the service with a stop to see my sister in college in IA. Once in WV, I spent a week with him and his family before starting the long drive back by myself stopping in WI to see another buddy. My buddy got called back to active duty about 6 months later for Desert Shield/Storm. I was transferred to Fort Bliss, TX About the same time. Somewhere between returning and being sent to TX I noticed my idle oil pressure had dropped to about 10psi. I knew something wasn't right with the engine and was saving money to rebuild it. Well, my orders for TX sped those plans up.

I pulled the engine and on tear down had half of a cam bearing come out with the cam. I found my oil leak! The cam bearing separated, like the babbit portion delaminated from the shell or something. Odd! Got the machine work done and assembled my first engine. I think it had a comp cams 270H, 9.5:1 pistons and I added a 4 barrel intake and Holley carb. I fired it up literally hours before I had to hit the road for TX. I figured if it didn't start I would have to take a bus and figure out what to do with the car. It fired up! I broke in the cam, changed the oil and played with the timing a bit more. After cleaning the garage of the friends who let me do this in their garage and thanking them I headed to TX with a brand new engine with zero miles on it! Leap of faith!!! All was not perfect, on the way down I noticed it didn't want to idle. I was having to drop it into gear at about 1200 rpm or the engine would stall. Ran fine above 1000 rpm. Somewhere in CA I felt the rear of the car sag. I was loaded down with my stuff and added air shocks for the drive down. I pulled over at a rest stop and discovered the plastic air line for the shocks had fallen against the exhaust and melted. I had a couple extra fittings so I repaired the burned section and used a zip tie to keep it from happening again. I pumped the shocks back up with a bicycle pump I had with me. I got some odd looks from people in the parking lot while doing that! LOL I figured I had a vacuum leak. First time in the desert, I was expecting road runner cartoon like desert. Nah, not this time, had snow on the ground in Kingman, AZ when I woke up in the motel that morning. I was advised to avoid driving into the mountains on my way to Phoenix because of the snow and was given an alternate route. Once in Phoenix, you know, the desert I got to drive through a violent thunderstorm with monsoon like rains! Once at Ft. Bliss I was told my orders had changed. Instead of joining a unit already in Saudi, I was to stay at Ft Bliss. It seems that someone of my rank and MOS was shot while driving back to base from Juerez, Mexico. He was in the hospital, alive, but not in good condition. Nine months later the entire unit was transferred to Ft Lewis so I got to go back! Idle issue ended up being 2 gaskets stacked between the main body and metering block. I had the carb apart about 10 times and never noticed.

The paint didn't last. While washing the car one day I noticed water spraying out from under the vinyl in every direction. Once I started pulling on it, I couldn't stop. Then came the cans of paint remover. Then I saw just how bad the body actually was. The bondo on the top of the drivers side fender was so thick I gave up on the grinder and actually took a small hatchet to it. The hood was bad with it also. Someone had brazed a 4x9 sheet over the upper control arm at one point and the metal in places was work to paper thin. I was able to get it back in primer at least. I used the bases DIY body shop to try some rust repair and get it back into primer. Being it was my daily driver I had to keep it in running condition as much as possible. That is where the body work stopped, welded rust repairs that still need to be ground. Interior stripped to basically seats and gauge cluster. Soon, I got out of the Army, got married, bought a house. My first job after getting out was making me less then 8 bucks an hour. Not a lot left over for the big plans I had for the Cougar. Still being my daily driver, it stayed in primer, with a cool fiberglass hood I found at a speed shop in Tacoma. Sixty miles a day round trip to and from work. Thankfully gas was still less then a dollar a gallon. I filled up about twice a week.

After only 3 years the wife wanted out. I was working 2 jobs by now trying to get ahead, if even just a little. That second job allowed me to hang onto the house during the divorce. She wanted none of it, just wanted out. Some where in there I used the wrong chemical around my Holley 6 valve fuel pump it started to leak. Was dripping while I warmed it up after finishing my main job grinding crankshafts for a remanufacturer in Tacoma. I had move up from my warehouse gig loading engines onto trucks for shipment, to assembly line installing pistons in 80 engines a day to grinding crankshafts. Was making big money! Went from 7 to 11 an hour. My department head saw the fuel leaking as he was heading to his truck. I had to risk it, I drove to work at the Sears where I was selling tires and batteries and called the speed shop I bought parts from. He had a rebuild kit in stock for my pump. My boss at Sears let me run over and buy the kit and come back. When I got home about 11pm I tore the fuel pump out, replaced the seals that were leaking and reinstalled it. Think it took me 2 hours without the proper tools. Got about 3 hours sleep and drove back to work the next day, no leaks!

Got divorced and laid off within a span of about 4 months of each other. The Sears job was still there but they could not offer enough hours to make it work. I figured someone was telling me it was time to move home. I found a job here building remanufactured diesel engines, packed the house up in a U-haul and trailered the Cougar back home. Almost 20 years later the car still sits in the garage. I fired it up several years ago so I could make room for a fishing boat I bought. Carb needs rebuilt, I resorted to feeding the carb with a squirt bottle. Accelerator pump not working, or, gas all evaporated from the tank.

So there it sits. Many, many miles and memories in that car in the garage. Through my trials and tribulations with it my turn signals still do not work and I need to get someone with real knowledge to look at the frame before I go any further. I finally feel I have enough income where I could entertain picking that project back up. The guys at Sears I worked with used a slow night to do an alignment for me. It always felt sloppy in the steering. A rebuilt gear box was a great help, but it pulled to the left I think and wandered on crowned roads. The tires would wear out the inner half of tread in about 30-40k miles. On the day they did the alignment the guys pulled me out into the shop. They could not bring the caster into spec. The drivers side strut rod?? did not have enough thread on it. I know it was hit drivers side front at some point. The car looked pretty straight, nothing that catches the eye. I tried to install a cheap chrome china made export brace and the holes for the shock tower were off by about half a bolt diameter. I didn't get it at the time. I do not think there is a lot of rust damage to the frame. I have stripped all of the sheet metal off the front end and cleaned the dirt and crud off everything. I don't even think my shock towers are cracked. I suspect some time on a frame rack is needed. Once I have the frame squared up, if that's all that is needed I can think about what to do about body work.

I have spent most of the day here reading about builds. That road course car build from last year blew my mind!! I bought and still have not installed new leaf springs and have a Detroit locker for the 8 inch rear. I never figured out what gears I wanted, have a spare pumpkin for that project somewhere in the garage.

Man, I wish I had found this page years ago! If anyone makes it this far, thank you! I didn't think this would turn into a small book!

User avatar
Al Bundy
Registered Member
Posts: 1911
Joined: 19 Oct 2011, 11:14
Location: Syracuse, NY

Re: New member, Cougars I've owned

#2

Post by Al Bundy » 23 May 2016, 20:10

Welcome to the board. We love to see pictures here,even if they're old ones.
1974 Dodge Dart - daily driver
1963 Thunderbird Z code - raven black/red
1968 XR7 F code - diamond blue/blue
1968 XR7 J code - black/red
1968 J code - madras blue/aqua
1968 XR7 X code - lime frost/dark ivy gold
1968 GT-E XR7 W code prototype no. 500033 - cardinal red/black

SPLINEHEAD
Registered Member
Posts: 488
Joined: 16 Jan 2015, 11:10
Location: Holland, MI

Re: New member, Cougars I've owned

#3

Post by SPLINEHEAD » 24 May 2016, 06:00

Welcome to CCC! Thank You For Your Service To Our Country. Good Luck and yes we like pictures.

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

User avatar
xr7g428
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 4369
Joined: 23 Dec 2010, 21:02
Location: Cave Creek, AZ
Contact:

Re: New member, Cougars I've owned

#4

Post by xr7g428 » 24 May 2016, 09:51

Great story and welcome to CCC.Com!
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

User avatar
badcatt
Registered Member
Posts: 1629
Joined: 29 Nov 2011, 14:13
Location: Camano Island WA

Re: New member, Cougars I've owned

#5

Post by badcatt » 24 May 2016, 11:35

Welcome aboard. Nice that you had time here in the Great North Wet,(western Washington) I'd love to see pictures of your Cougar when you can. Good luck with the resurrection.
Neal Jacobson.
1970 XR-7 White "Ginger"
1970 XR-7 Convertible Blue
1971 XR-7 Bright Blue with Blue "Up Beat" interior
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 -

Wallgeye
Registered Member
Posts: 17
Joined: 23 May 2016, 17:34

Re: New member, Cougars I've owned

#6

Post by Wallgeye » 25 May 2016, 23:33

Thanks everyone! Will have to scan the old ones, I think I saw a thread elsewhere called something like what does your Cougar look like right now. I can do that one tomorrow. :)

User avatar
relentless
Registered Member
Posts: 351
Joined: 16 Sep 2013, 17:03
Location: Southern Oregon

Re: New member, Cougars I've owned

#7

Post by relentless » 26 May 2016, 11:33

Always nice to hear from someone going back to their first love; thanks for sharing.

Where are you located?

guitar74
Registered Member
Posts: 1461
Joined: 11 Oct 2015, 16:55

Re: New member, Cougars I've owned

#8

Post by guitar74 » 23 Jun 2016, 14:10

Welcome!

User avatar
1967 S Code
Registered Member
Posts: 4290
Joined: 25 Dec 2010, 20:35
Location: Sumter, South Carolina

Re: New member, Cougars I've owned

#9

Post by 1967 S Code » 23 Jun 2016, 14:59

Welcome to the Classic Cougar Community.
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, XR7S Taillight Bars

Post Reply