Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mercury Cougar in the Obscure Muscle Car parking lot?

Check out the blog at Car Domain for an entry for their regular feature about cars that fall outside the normal notions of what constitutes a muscle car.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

FOR SALE - 1968 Mercury Cougar - $2750


FOR SALE - 1968 Mercury Cougar – Dan Gurney Special - click link for Craigslist ad.

I purchased this vehicle with the intent to restore, but have since bought another Cougar and it’s time for this one to find a new home. The vehicle runs and drives, but will need work to be a reliable driver and a restoration to be a show car.

This car is nearly original, but unfortunately worn out in many areas. I ordered the deluxe Marti report for this vehicle and the report will accompany the vehicle in the sale. This vehicle was one of 11,899 Dan Gurney Specials and one of 1,416 produced with these paint and trim codes. This Cougar has a 302 cubic inch, 2 bbl engine, automatic transmission, power steering, power disc brakes (front), air conditioning, console, deluxe interior, black vinyl top, and remote mirror. The vehicle is Diamond Blue (very light blue) with a Light blue interior. Everything is still there but needs to be repaired or replaced.

The Good:
The vehicle runs and drives, but would need to be trailered any farther than the local area. The radiator was replaced before I purchased the vehicle. A basic tune-up has been performed: changed the oil, oil filter, air filter, PCV valve, spark plugs, & spark plug wires. The C-4 Transmission was rebuilt in 2008. The Master Cylinder has been replaced. The doors are in good shape and just have some minor door dings. Both of the door jambs are in good shape. The cowl area is in good shape. The back seat and the interior door panels are in good shape. The sequential taillights work perfectly. The headlights go up with the switch, but do not go down. The original AM radio still works. The glass is good. The car has been garaged in a heated & cooled garage for the two years I have owned the vehicle.

The bad:
The vehicle has been a St. Louis car all of it’s life – it was originally purchased at Stivers Lincoln-Mercury in St. Louis – and therefore has some typical rust issues. However, this vehicle is a good restoration project and not a parts car. The lower quarter panels in front and behind both doors need to be replaced and the rear quarter panels behind the rear wheels need to be replaced. The area behind the rear window is rusty and will need work. The floors are solid, but the trunk floor could use some attention. The front bumper has a twist in it and the front valance could probably be replaced. The front seats need to be recovered, the headliner needs to be replaced, and the dash pad is cracked. The vinyl top is gone. The power steering works, but the rack & pinion leaks and will need to be fixed to keep fluid in the reservoir.

I have MANY more pictures of the car that I can e-mail if you're interested. Here is another listing with more pictures:

I have some extra parts that could help with the restoration of the car for a little extra money. I have an extra bumper, a couple of extra hoods, a trunk lid, and tank for the vacuum system.

Please contact Scott via e-mail with any questions. Thanks!

Monday, July 27, 2009

I am NOT paying the State of Illinois $800

As I blogged a while back, I bought the 1967 Mercury Cougar a few months ago. In Illinois, if you buy a vehicle that is less than $15,000 and it is 11 or more years old the buyer only pays $25.00 in tax. I paid that when I registered the vehicle and applied for the title. A couple of weeks ago I received a letter from the IL Dept. of Revenue that they did a review and feel that I paid between $15,000 and $19,999 and I owe the state $800 more dollars ($750 in tax, $73.00 late payment penalty, and $2.00 interest). I paid well under $10,000 for the vehicle, so in order to not pay this bogus charge I have to prove them wrong. I have written a letter to refute their review of my purchase. Luckily, I have a bunch of paperwork that I saved from when I bought the vehicle. I don't like being called a liar!

Here is the letter that I am sending to the Illinois Department of Revenue:

July 22, 2009

Illinois Department of Revenue
101 West Jefferson Street
P.O. Box 19015
Springfield, IL 62794-9015

To Whom It May Concern:

I received a letter from your agency dated July 7, 2009 regarding the 1967 Mercury Cougar (VIN xxxxxxxxxx) that I bought earlier this year for [under $15,000]. I am writing this letter to refute the review done by your agency. I do not plan on paying the balance of $800.00 in taxes as suggested by your review. If you find this does not completely absolve me from paying said amount in taxes please contact me to advise.

I have enclosed copies of:
  • The signed bill of sale between myself (the buyer) and the seller and signed by both parties on April 18, 2009 stating that I bought the vehicle for [under $15,000].
  • Bank records of the withdrawal of cash funds from two separate banks on the day of the sale (April 18, 2009) to pay the seller for the vehicle.
  • A printed ad from dated April 14, 2009 listing the vehicle in question for sale with an asking price of $8,900.
  • The copy of the RUT-50 form from when the seller applied for the title. This document shows that the seller purchased the vehicle for $5,000.
  • A copy of the title from the previous owner with the seller's information and the same vehicle in question.

Thank you,

S. C. A.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Front Skins for the Cougar

Last Friday, I decided I was going to do an oil change on the 1967 Cougar. I was going to a car show the next day at Culvers and needed to clean the car and thought I would take care of this too. Having bought the car in April, I had not checked the fluids since then, but I had found no sizable spots on the garage floor and the previous owner told me he had changed the oil the night before I bought the car. So, I get the car up on the ramps and put down a piece of cardboard and climb underneath to drain the oil. The first thing I notice is that the inside edges on both tires are worn down to the belts!


I was planning to go to the car show on Saturday night with Mary and Elsie and now the car was potentially unsafe. After discussing the situation with Mary, she said she did not feel comfortable riding in the car. Overall, I couldn't blame her, the Cougar has no airbags and the seat belts are only lap belts, but I felt like things were going from bad to worse. To make matters worse even if we did have a blowout I could not have changed any of the tires because the wheels had wheel locks and I did not have the key. Furthermore, the spare tire in the trunk looks like it's the 1967 original! The plans for Saturday night were on hiatus.

For some reason, a previous owner had installed Firestone black walled tires on the front, but the tires on the back were BF Goodrich Radial T/A with raised white letters. The rear tires still had lots of tread left, so I decided to make all four match and just buy two tires. The Firestone tires were 195 70 R14 so I decided to try to get that same size.

At 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, I called Autotire and they said because there was no longer a demand for tires like this they would have to order them. I started looking at the Internet and phone book. Most of the other tire shops opened at 8 a.m. so it gave me some time to do some quick research. I decided to look for independent tire shops so I wasn't calling a chain that was worried about volume and a shop that advertised they carried the BF Goodrich brand. After some research I found that Patterson Tire & Service Center not only carried most major brands but also carried Mickey Thompson Performance Tires. Now, I thought I had a good chance with this shop.

After 8 a.m. I called and spoke to Brian and I asked if they had any of the exact size to match what I had. He said he did not. Undeterred, I asked if they had any tires that were 205 70 R14. A little less sidewall, but not a big change. He checked and they had 6 in stock! I asked if he could replace them that day and he asked if I could come in at 10:30 a.m. Excitedly, I confirmed this was fine and got off the phone.

After breakfast and some morning errands, I showed up to Patterson Tire just before the scheduled appointment. The guys there were all very nice and even took me into the shop to show me why the tires were wearing. The idler arm bushing was almost non-existent and the size of a flat washer. You could move the whole assembly up and down with your hands! Not good. The technician advised that I should replace all the rubber and bushings with polyurethane. I advised that I did not have the key for the lugs and he said he could get them off, but they would be hard. I told him that if he only had time for the front two locking nuts that would be fine, but it would be great if he could get the back two off as well. He said he thought he had 4 lug nuts that would work and he went to work.

After about an hour at the shop I had two new tires, 4 lug nuts, and a receipt. I was on my way home by 11:30 a.m. I got home and had some lunch and spent a couple hours in the afternoon on cleaning up the car for the show. I found great satisfaction on scrubbing the blue protection off the raised white letters on the new tires and cleaning the lettering on the existing tires. The Cougar was ready to go!

That night we went to the show, saw some family and friends, had some ice cream, and had a great time!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

To do list - Making the Cougar better, stronger, faster

With any older car like this there will inevitably be a to-do list. This car is no different and by no means perfect. My intention is to be like the 1970's series "The Six Million Dollar Man." In the opening sequence of the show, a narrator identifies the protagonist, "Steve Austin, astronaut; a man barely alive." Richard Anderson (in character as Oscar Goldman) then intones off-camera, "Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster."

While the Cougar is very much alive, here's what I will need to accomplish my goal -
(WCCC) = West Coast Classic Cougar

Parts Needed
Replace Idler Arm - $69.95 (Mustang Corral) $64.85 (WCCC)
Replace Export Brace (one piece) - $49.95 (Mustang Corral) $57.85 (WCCC)
Replace exterior door handles - $24.95/pair (Mustangs Unlimited) $22.85 (WCCC)
Concours exterior door handles - $59.85/pair (WCCC)
Replace driver side exterior mirror - $124.95 (Mustangs Unlimited) - $122.85 (WCCC)
Replace front sway bar - ?
Replace front dash speaker - $46.95 (Mustangs Unlimited) - Pioneer $99.85 (WCCC)
Replace tinted windshield - $199.95 (Mustangs Unlimited)
Replace turn signal switch in steering column - $79.95 (Mustangs Unlimited) $84.75 (WCCC)
Replace rear seat divider - $12.95 (Mustangs Unlimited)
Replace headlight vacuum actuators - $369.85 (WCCC)
Replace windshield wiper blades - $9.95 each (Mustangs Unlimited) $17.00 each (WCCC)
Replace scissors jack - $135.00 (WCCC)
Replace Lug wrench - $ ?
Install rear sway bar - $ ?
Install KYB gas shocks - $128.88 full set (Mustangs Unlimited) $1xx.xx full set (Mustang Corral)
Install Door Jamb courtesy light switch passenger side door - $4.85 (WCCC)
Install windshield wiper motor - $104.96 (Mustangs Unlimited)
Install windshield wiper reservoir - $34.95 (Mustangs Unlimited) $23.85 (WCCC)
Install windshield wiper lines - $5.95 (Mustangs Unlimited) $6.85 (WCCC)
Install taillight wiring protectors - $29.95/pair (Mustangs Unlimited) $23.85 (WCCC)
Install fan shroud - $49.95 (Mustangs Unlimited) $48.85 (WCCC)
Install Deck Lid lock cover - $47.50 (WCCC)
Install horn - $99.00 (Year One) - $27.85 (WCCC)
Install Complete Trunk Kit - $89.88 (Mustangs Unlimited)
Install Trunk Mat - $57.85 (WCCC)
Install Trunk Filler Boards - $19.85 (WCCC)
Install Motor Trend Car of The Year sticker - $35.00 (WCCC)
Install front bumper guards - $145.00 (WCCC)
Install rear bumper guards - $145.00 (WCCC)
Install rear bumper guard mounting brackets and related hardware - used - $82.00 (WCCC)
Install Headlight door insert background - $28.85 (WCCC)
Install Headlight door walking cat emblem - $32.00 (WCCC)
Install Battery Hold-down Clamp Kit - $11.00 (WCCC)
Install radiator overflow - $ ?
Have second set of keys made - blanks - $1.85 each (WCCC)
1967 Cougar Shop Manual - $39.75 (WCCC)
1967 Cougar Assembly Manuals (Set of 5) - $71.40 (WCCC)

TOTAL - $1906.32

Free (No parts needed)
Buff and wax car
Shine wheels
Flush radiator
Hook up vacuum lines for headlight doors
Paint leaf springs
Paint traction bars

Fix or Repair
Running lights front and rear
Gas Gauge
Back up lights
Vacuum system for front headlights

Possible Future projects
New tires and wheels - Approximately $1,000 - $1,200
Replace original kick panels with kick panels w/ speakers - Pioneer $149.85 (WCCC)
Replace tachometer w/ clock size tachometer in dash - $169.85 (West Coast Classic Cougar)
Bumpers re-chromed - front & rear - $325 each (West Coast Classic Cougar)
Replace "Moroso" valve covers w/ Chrome "Powered by Ford" valve covers - ?
Replace mufflers - $ ?
Install Right Hand Side View Mirror - $119.85 (West Coast Classic Cougar)
Install new heat and A/C system - $ ? (more research)
Install Power Steering system - $ ? (more research)
Install retractable antenna - $91.00 (Year One)
Install console - $ 800 - $1,000 (West Coast Classic Cougar) or parts car
Install fuel lines - $ ? (more research)
Install fuel tank - $125.00 (West Coast Classic Cougar)