How I Got the Cat Bug

I’m only 35.. err 36 hmm wow time sure flies, but I remember my high school days pretty vividly still. (If you ask my wife she will tell you it’s because I never really grew up) Everyone driving around in cool muscle cars laying burnouts all over the place, me in my parents 4cyl Chrysler New Yorker.. meh.. A friend of mine in high school, well more of a friend of a friend at the time had a thing for Cougars. He owned 3 or 4 of them over the 10 years or so that he was heavy into them. I watched him tinker on a couple of them but didn’t really “get it”. I certainly wasn’t mechanically inclined enough to appreciate the big block power plants I watched him dabble with for what they were.

I can’t really recall a specific moment of realization when the complete and utter “coolness” of it all hit me but suffice to say over a 3 year period I watched this friend of mine completely engross himself in one particular car of his. He breathed it, he talked about it, he worshipped it and he planned his projects on it for months in advance. The car was a 1967 XR7 GT. It was an original 390 big block car (like that wasn’t enough horsepower already..) but he had bigger plans for it.

Now you’ll have to forgive me because after 15-20 years my recollections of this aren’t going to be 100% but here goes. He started out by finding a 390 Police Interceptor block. Inside of that he tossed a special crank (Forged steel? cast iron? I cant remember but whichever it was I just know it took him over a year to find it and it was something special) for a 428. He stuffed in a bunch of racing gear for the rings and pistons and topped it off with a set of ported and polished 428 aluminum heads. On top of that he tossed an aluminum tri-power intake with an original set of 3 two barrel carbs. The trans was a C6, hopped up with a shift kit and a 2500 stall converter. I want to say the rear end was a 3:50 locker but I cant swear to it.

The car was immaculate. The body was straightened and re-welded for extra strength. He had them install a passenger side Torque box for more stability since it didn’t come stock on the 67s. Then he had a 1G racing suspension kit installed in the car complete with a set of low profile sub-frame connectors to keep the car from twisting itself in half every time it launched. A set of disc brakes from a 70 (or 71?) donor cougar went on the front end to help stop the wild beast.

Ok ok I know I’m rambling on building this car up into something legendary right? The very first time I heard this car I knew is was hooked. A set of Hollywood Deeptones tried to muffle the sounds of power coming out the back end of that cat but it didn’t do much. Just hearing that car idle would raise goosebumps on my arms never mind the scream of the 3 carburetors wailing for air when he put the hammer down. You want to talk about the proverbial legendary ride.. I remember just after he got the car out of the shop from the 1G suspension upgrade we went to “test it”.. Him laughing and chortling like a crazy person, me with my face planted up against the window as he takes a 90 degree turn at 75 miles an hour without even a whimper from the tires. Yeah I was definitely hooked.

I ended up with a couple cars myself. At the time I had a 65 Mustang which i used to kind of cut my teeth on. Then over the years I played with a bunch of fox body Mustangs and a Supercharged T-bird but man did I miss the muscle cars. I tried a ’73 mustang for fun but it just didn’t work.. I wanted a cougar.

So here I am FINALLY, after 20 years of watching everyone else enjoy their cats, with my own 1967 Cougar XR7. I don’t have any money to even pretend to dream that I would be able to pick up an XR7 GT but I don’t think I would ever part with this cat anyways. It’s just too dang nice. The first time I started it I knew I was home.

Well folks thats my story. How I got bit by da bug. I hope you enjoyed it and I look forward to reading about your great stories with your cats. Here’s wishing you straight roads and happy travels.

Mark