The January 2009 issue of Hot Rod Magazine includes a technical article about the effectiveness and use of rust removal products on automotive sheet metal. These type of products can be important to Mercury Cougar owners because of the lack of new sheet metal for these vehicles. Classic Cougar owners can buy a variety of structural sheet metal floor pans, inner fenders, shock towers, radiator supports, and some small exterior sheet metal pieces quarter panel patches and front and rear valances from various retailers. However, no companies are currently making replacement hoods, decklids, doors, front fenders, or full rear fenders for the Classic Cougar owner. There are places to find used sheet metal parts in good shape, such as West Coast Classic Cougar, but those parts are getting increasingly expensive. If not we are left to scour message boards, Craigslist, and salvage yards like Sunman Ford for sheet metal parts to restore these vehicles. However, each Cougar that is parted out leaves one less vehicle on the the road and one more vehicle that gets crushed - lost forever! Sure, plenty of Mustangs and Camaro's have been crushed over the years, but many have also been rescued from the crusher by having easily available replacement parts to bring the vehicle back from the dead.
I'm not sure if the editors chose a Mercury Cougar as their test subject due to the fact of finding a relatively inexpensive 1960's muscle car to work on, or if they knew the plight of those restoring Cougars, but here is some insight provided as to why they chose the car.
Tucked away in a SoCal beach city, we found our inexpensive candidate: a stone-stock, unrestored, unrepainted, and clearly unloved '68 XR7 Cougar sitting under a tree just a scant few blocks from the shore. While our Mercury score was complete, fully functional right down to the hideaway headlights and sequential turn signals, and a gem mechanically, years of neglect in a coastal environment had left more surface rust than paint on the sheetmetal. We negotiated and drove it away for $300. Hate us?
Let us clarify; when we say it had surface rust, we're not talking about that common, lightweight, simple-to-sand-off layer of corrosion-that would be too easy. No, what we had was that deep-seated, thick, metal-pitting stuff that scoffs at any grade of sandpaper. We even attacked a spot on the roof with a DA and an aggressive sanding disc that did little more than create shiny rust. This one will be a real test for any rust remover.
If you were wondering, yes I do hate them. But no one likes a hater and I do like the magazine. Check out the article for more pictures and details on the products.