Mercury Cougar Owners banner
1 - 20 of 267 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I figured that I'd go ahead and start a thread on building up my freshly-aquired 68 Cougar XR-7 into a resto-modded driver- just for kicks and entertainment. Please feel free to add your input, offer suggestions, or just tell me I'm doing it all wrong!. It's going to be my daily driver, and will most certainly be driven hard on occasion, so I'm not going to do anything overkill, like polish my exhaust or anything. There is a car show at Mustangs Unlimited on July 13th. Let's see what happens by then. I initially wanted to have it done by then, but I've instead jumped in face first and taken it all apart instead of driving it while I did simple upgrades.

I'm a painter at a body shop, so if nothing else it WILL be shiny.

The story behind the car is kinda fun, so I'll start there-

I started looking at cars to build over the winter. Whatever I got was going to be my "last chance" of sorts to dump a bunch of money into a car before my wife and I have kids next year. I found this car in 2/08- the guy wanted $3600, I offered $3200, he rejected it, so I walked away and bought a 66 Chevy C10. I really wanted the Cougar, but I've had a few old trucks in the past and figured it would be a simple and satisfying build. As soon as I started getting into it, I felt that God (yes, God... it's a relationship thing...) told me to go ahead and do whatever It was I had planned for it, but to get it done in 3 months. Okay.
So I busted my butt on it, spent most of what I had on it, and had it painted and done, with the exception of a seat recover and disc brakes within 2 and a half months. The afternoon that I finished buffing it and drive it home from the body shop (work), some lady in a Tundra made a blind left turn through backed up mall traffic right in front of me, so I hit her in her right bedside. Her fault.
Since I had everything done and painted, I got $8000 more than I spent on it from her insurance company. Had I not busted on it, it would have most likely been in primer and would have been worth a couple hundred bucks
to the insurance. yes.

But this isn't about OLD TRUCKS, its about Cougars!


So, I needed a car. I found out that the guy with the XR-7 was still selling it, but had now reduced his price down to $2900. I offered him $2400, and he took it. He was apparently moving soon. On 5/16 I drove it straight from his house to a mustang shop called Dugan Racing to put a 5 speed and 3:70 rearend in it. It had something retarded like a 4:88. I could only go 50mph, and was getting passed by tractor trailers with full loads of concrete blocks on the highway.





PLANS for the Cougar are to have a modern, tight suspension, power steering, power disc brakes, a 5 speed, drop it as low as I can get it without doing anything stupid, and as big as a set of wheels I can fit without looking stupid. I want a classy yet modern oxblood and black colored interior with stainless bits, red led lighting, modern gauges, ac, power windows, dark tint, power heated seats,black chrome and black flake two tone exterior with a stripe of either candy red or realistic flames. I change my mind on it every week. Somewhere, though, I'm going to have the Thundercats logo. It's much more aggressive than the Cougar logo.







Well, the PO bought the car as a shell, spent "$6k" installing a 351 windsor and toploader, started to sand it down to bare metal, and then left it outside for 6 months with the windows down. Then he thought it would be best to just spray paint the whole thing with red Walmart primer. Classy.




Now that I have it home, I can get to it!





 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Okay, first, it needed floor pans bad. No problem, Mustangs Unlimited's Atlanta location is all of 10 miles from home (4 from work). New pans, new seat risers, and a new shifter ball. And a whole weekend plus.




I got my suspension and steering parts in. I order as much as I can from ebay. Stuff is so much cheaper, and it gets sent to my door. The steering is apparently a Steeroids rack and pinion copy with a polished tilt column, and the Suspension is a -1" quazi grab-a-trak kit from Laurel Mountain Mustang. They are my new best friends! I also got a pair of strut rods and floor pan plugs from them.



I'm still waiting on my power disc brake kit. The spindles are late shipping from overseas or something. As soon as I get them, I can button everything up suspension-wise and get it off jackstands.


I did get my new steering wheel. I went with the slots instead of holes because it reminds me of the '70 vette my dad always had while I was growing up. I'm going to talke it apart, stain it transparent black, and clearcoat the crap out of it until it feels like a wheel out of a BMW X5, then put it back together with polished allen head bolts.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,371 Posts
Cool Story Sean... Keep the pics coming. That is Awesome!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
My wife is an avid bellydancer (crazy, I know), so I get to spend a lot of evenings in the garage.
Tonight I did my Shelby drop and put a good coat of epoxy primer on the insides of my fenderwells. When that all dries I can seam seal the front of my torque boxes and a pillars and undercoat. I really want to get the car to the shop, because we've got this stuff that German cars have on the insides of rocker panels and other sun-don't-shine areas that I want to spray inside my torque boxes. It's a wax coating that sprays out the end of a metal hose in 360 degrees, and is far better then just etch primer and undercoat.
I started to put my control arms on just to see how it all looks. I painted them gloss black yesterday (along with an Audi hood) since they came just E-coated and were already scratched up.



My garage is an absolute mess. My wife still, though, hasn't complained that I'm taking up both garage spaces. She's absolutely the best.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
"Cool project. Got any pics of your wife? :evil: Just kidding."

Naww you weren't. If she were ugly I'd probably act offended. But she's hott!! I'm not shy!

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Awesome build!! Keep us updated on the suspension and stuff!! This is the kind of car and build I have been looking to do....

And your wife is hot. You're the man!!

Ax
KC
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Friday the 13th

Yesterday and today I was able to get a few things off the floor and onto the car. I started to build a set of seat brackets that doubled as floor braces after I took out my new seat riser panels. I'm trying to install a pair of power '94 Mustang buckets into the cougar, but the power track adds a couple inches over the stock seats' seating height. I don't think they'll work, beacuse it's still too high. I'm also concerned about the new molded carpet not fitting without the seat risers, but I'll deal with that when I get to the interior finish.
Here is the driver's side rear seat bracket I'd fabbed up.



Today at work I got my new steering wheel apart and sanded it down smooth. It look really chintzy the way Grant finished the wood. The back was rough and edgy instead of smooth and bumpy. Now it is properly smooth and bumpy, though. I wiped some transparent black into it, didn't like it, sprayed some House of Kolor candy red over that, didn't like it either, so I sanded it down a bit to show some grain though, and sprayed a transparent black and blue mix over it, cleared it, and came home. I hope it looks okay on Monday. Like I've said before, if nothing else, it'll be shiny.

The fedex guy brought my special crush nuts that I needed for the power rack and pinion install, so I was able to get that put together. The nuts didn't fit properly in the holes- they were just a bit too small and would spin instead of... crushing. So I just welded them in. The rack took awhile to get situated, but it's in now.


The power stering lines were touching the headers, but now have a finger's worth of space after some "persuasion". I also noticed that the Borgerson joint thing is really close to the clutch pivot arm, and may hit it once the column is attached to the other end of it.

What does a cable clutch kit install entail? Do I need a different bellhousing, too, or just the cable kit itself?


I also got the rest of the suspension parts I have - with the exception of the strut rods, because I can't get the old ones off...- off the floor and mounted on the car. I spent a few bucks at Home Depot and got all new nuts and bolts where I needed them, so all the new finishes look so good together. Much better than dirt and grime!

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
6.20.08

Here's where I'm at as of midnight Friday.


The garage is getting cleaner as new parts get bolted on, scrap metal is welded into things, and empty boxes and old parts get thrown away. Happy(er) garage!



I ordered a matching pair of brackets from March so that I could mount up my power steering pump. They are way too shiny for this car right now. I had to paint the water pump pulley and shine up the fan just to clean up the area around them. Lame.



With a power steering pump, the power rack is now plumbed up. I got the brake kit in, but they failed to send me a couple key pieces- one being the instructions. I've been fumbling around with the setup, so it can very well be mounted upside down or something. I had some extra House of Kolor apple red candy on my desk at work from painting a customer's R6, so I went ahead and sprayed it on my new calipers. They came a strange olive green color. Like, if you're going to put a coating on them from the factory, at least make it a cool color or black. Come on. The candy red is super over-kill, though.



I finished my Mustang power seats install today, too. I ended up using the bracket braces that I originaly planned. It turns out that they weren't too high, but rather the headliner insulation was sagging down too low. I ripped it all out over my head and everything is great. I just finished putting a thick coat of epoxy primer on the new floors, so tomorrow I'll attack the seam sealer and dynomat!



Something else I did this week was my steering wheel. I don't have a pic yet 'cause I still need to go pick out some polished allen head bolts to put the pieces back together. It's almost black, but you can still see the woodgrain through it. It's very glossy, too. Just you wait!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
301 Posts
Nice work and write up, keep it coming!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Thanks for your encouragement, guys! It helps me to keep on keepin' on!


Progress-wise, this last couple weeks has sucked. I've done a lot of just staring at the car. And a lot of running back and forth between the garage and the office compy, researching how things are supposed to go together.

I finished the disc brake install, finally. It turns out that the kit I got is just a new-parts kit of Granada stuff. Oh well. The company I got the kit from left out some pieces, so I had to wait longer for those to get here. I also was slowed down because (my fault) I cut up the old metal lines for the front brakes, thinking that the new kit came with them. No, it didn't, so I had to make new ones, and it took me a few days to locate all the correct connectors and lines. I hope the new ones I made don't leak. Otherwise, I'm just going to let a shop do it. Brake lines are such a liability.

Holy Crap. Those Japanese-run companies from California are at it again! Most of the time, the aftermarket stuff I've gotten on Ebay has been really good and cost/time efficient. And then there's that one guy. The guy that won't answer emails, who doesn't ship your product out for a week after you click "buy it now", but who just so happens to have the one really-cool part you need that nobody else carries. That guy sold me a set of racing pedals two weeks ago.
If I had my pedals, I could cut down the auto brake pedal to fit , shave the rest down to look good, install my pedal assemblies, fab up a new style barke switch inside it, mount my steering column and wheel, plug up my signals and horn, install the brake booster/ master cylinder, install the clutch bars, lay my carpet, install my new 3-point seatbelts, and wire and install my seats. But, no. I can't do any of that. I'm still waiting on that guy.

I need to get my custom dash fabbed up, too, but I've been slacking on getting it all drawn up and getting the switches I need so that the guy making it can do it right the first time. Then I could wire in all my gauges. After that

I've been wiring up my $170 EZ Wiring kit. It's actually a good kit, but the translation between 1968 Mercury and 2008 ebay kit is a little mixed and spotty. The underdash area is nice and clean now. I got a new firewall pad from MU that doesn't fit worth a crap, but the new wiring goes in nice and neatly. Sorry the pic is blurry. I also decided to delete the sequntial tails for now, because I bought an elecronic sequncer from MU that fits the factory wiring with all it's 1,000,000 leads (which I don't have anymore), but I threw away the box, and now I can't return it. I found a cool set of LED sequentials that have three wires and the equivalent of 5 bulb spots on each side that I'd rather get. Later, though. Cash is wearing thin now.



I'm routing all the front end wires under the fender instead of in the engine compartment just for cleanliness's sake. I have yet to get the black wire loom.



I got around to getting the correct wheel adapter for the Ididit column and Vette-styled wheel.



I also got around to fitting the decklid latch and lock on. Wow, did they not fit at all. This was one of the big Q's about the Shelby lid- whethor or not the flip-up lock door would actually work. No. It won't. The recess is too deep to even get the flippy door open at all. The whole thing would have to be installed over an inch off the decklid to get it to open enough to get the key in. It's a good thing I don't like it and had already planned to rip the door off and mold it in.





Booooo for not enough progress!!!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Oh, and I totally forgot-
Last week I fixed my giant battery acid rust hole. I needed a new radiator support, a complete right front apron, battery box, and battery hold-downs. Here are befores and afters. Notice how even the bottom brace of the rad supt had a 6-or-so inch hole rusted out, and the two layers of metal had rusted apart. The bottom squarey-tubing part seriously came out with just ripping on it.









 

·
Registered
Joined
·
829 Posts
Very nice story and pics. I'm hoping that now I'm more settled in a house rather than renting, I will be able to start mine soon. It's funny, your car is almost exactly like mine, color, year, and package, so it really makes me want to start on mine!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
301 Posts
Wow, nice work, keep the updates coming
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Saturday, 7.19.08

I'm still waiting for the brakes to be finished. I was bending and flaring my my own lines, but after flaring a cracked line and chasing it 4 or so times, I got fed up with trying to make new stuff fit with old, and I didn't feel that the flares I was making were sufficient and pretty enough for brake pressure, so I went ahead and got a set of SS lines from Laurel Mt. They don't fit. The fittings aren't the same sizes as what I need, either. So now my intention is to let my mechanic friend make what the car needs out of all the SS lines and fittings I have. Then I can install the MC and get the silly brakes over with. As soon as the new vacuum pump gets in I can install it as well, and then the car can be driven.
In the meantime I've been getting started on the bodywork. I just stripped all the old paint and spraycan primer off today and yesterday. And now I'm going around the car patching in squares of metal from the new and day-used seat risers where ever there are rust holes. I got a Mapp gas kit today and some bronze rods with hopes that I can braze some of the smaller holes, but apperently I don't know what I'm doing 'cause it didn't work. The rods never melted and flowed- the flux just got gooey and stuck all over the metal. I'll have to wait to do that at the shop with the big torch setup the bodymen have.
I need to make a list of things to finish at home, and things that need to get done at the shop so that I can be in and out asap. I hate having my projects sitting around at work- it stresses both my boss and me out.
Progress thus far, 2 months in to the Cougar are:

351W
T-5 with short shifter
3:70 rear
long floorpans
front torque boxes
core support and battery side apron
completely new front suspension with 1 inch drop springs and 1 inch s.bar
shelby drop
Steeroids-copy power rack and pinion
Ididit tilt column w/ 15" vette style Grant wheel
New-parts Granada-style power disc kit
rear brake rebuild
'94 Mustang power seats
dynamat and carpet
3 point retractable seat belts
complete rewire
TPI elecronic gauges (in progress with subbed-out custom dash)
bare steel

I also got a hump-mounted e-brake handle assembly fron a 70ish Vette that I've got to fab in. The cable exits out the front, so I'll have to figure some pulley system for it.


 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,036 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
I just spent 20 minutes typing up an update, and then went to post it and lost it 'cause it took too long!! Boo.


Okay, well- it's been 4 weeks since the last update, and there has been some good progress since then. The car is now up and running. I've driven it to work and the gas station a few times now, and I absolutely love the experience of the drive. I find catch myself driving it worried-like sometimes. I'm pulled up on the wheel and holding my breath, expecting something to explode or fall off. :bloated: I guess I haven't driven the car in one particular state of the resto long enough yet to have faith in all the changes!


Well, to start- I got an electric vacuum pump from SSBC via Summit, and I hate it. It sounds like a nail gun compressor bolted to the drivers door. I've got it mounted on the backside of the engine wall, under the left fender, and it still vibrates the crap out of my dash and competes with the engine noise- which says a lot. Nevertheless, I took the fuse out of the holder and re-ran the booster to the carb vacuum which does fine for now.




I got the car competely stripped and down to nice, clean metal. Then I cut out the rust spots and patched in new metal. I've been avoiding the lower quarter patches, but did the drivers side today.
I epoxy primed the car last week with a really cool German OEM grayish green color. It looks really wicked in the parking lot.:evil:


I spent all last weekend at work doing bodywork. By Sunday afternoon I'd completed (and this is still not counting lower quarters) the roof, sail panels, right quarter, right door, decklid, and half of the left quarter. They way I'm doing it is to fix the dings and dents first, and then wiping the entire length of the panel with glazing filler, insuring a uniformly straight piece. Once the car is done this way, I'll hi-build prime the car, block it, and reprime it.
The worst bodywork part was that "Eleanor" Shelby decklid and quarter extensions. They are done now, but holy crap they took a bunch of hours worth of work to get the waves out. But- now it looks really really badass.



While I was at it, I figured I'd weld up the cowl vents since I hate windwshield squirters and I'll be getting an aftermarket A/C unit that won't use outside air. The cowl is also done.

I also got my hood cut for the backwards hilborn scoop. It also looks good, but I have no pics to prove it. With about an even .5 inch of room all around it, it pokes out of the hood from about the middle of the scoop's height. Think Bandit's T/A, only polished. Once the hood is sand blasted, I'll build a front-to-back cowl induction scoop from steel to fit the factory body lines in the hood. And it will be sexy, and you will be jealous.
Engine-wise, I had to get the rest of the set of March pulleys. With the P.o.'s pulley setup and the March P/S pulley, I threw both belts within a half-mile from my house while showing the car off to a passenger friend. They were really off-center from each other (and squeally as... something that squeals a lot...), but are now centered and shiny. Now that I've been driving the car, I've realized that the carb needs to be rebuilt bad, as it seems that the secondaries almost automatically kill the motor once the gas is muscled. Easy enough, I suppose.


Well, as soon as I can scoop enough money together I'll get some new wheels and tires. If I paint the car first and still run these W/T, they'll rub the paint off the fender lips- front and back. So, if I had the funds to get the new glass and rubber to finish it, I could possibly have the car painted by Labor day weekend.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
790 Posts
Lookin' Great Sean. Hell, while you're at it, shave the drip rails from the roof! SICK!!!

I too am running the wiring through the fenders, along with the vacum hoses for the front headlights. I want people to look under the hood and question, how does that work? :) I just ordered my tech-flex loom, should look Bad to the Bone!
 
1 - 20 of 267 Posts
Top