Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The To-Do List Is Growing

Ten days ago when I had the Cougar up on the lift working on the transmission filter replacement I had some time to look around the undercarriage of the car.  I was checking out the suspension parts and noticed some significant cracking on the strut rod bushings.

I still had some money left from my second place finish in my Fantasy Baseball league from last year. I figured I would get some more parts for the Cougar to install. On Monday after work I bought a strut rod bushing kit from the Mustang Corral in Edwardsville.  The Mustang Corral sources the kits they sell from American Pony Parts. Here's the description listed on their website:

Includes the steel cup washers.

We use a softer grade of Midolyne for strut rod bushings. Too firm and it can snap the rod. Strut rods stop the body when the brakes stop the suspension. Worn and compressed bushings create eratic handling and result in a "CLUNK" sound and feel when braking Kit does One (1) Car.

I am not hearing the "clunk" noise they are describing, but replacing worn out bushings with new polyurethane replacements can't be a bad thing. I hope that when the new gas shocks and this kit get installed that the handling on the Cougar becomes even better. However, I'm sure that there will be a few other things to correct as well. I am also thinking about having the manual steering box rebuilt too.

Just more items for the list…

I promise to take pictures of this project when I get to it in the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Cloud Of Dust

I spent two hours cleaning the garage tonight.

And I'm not done yet...

See, I knew when I started working on this project tonight that I would not finish in just one evening. Getting started had been my problem in the past.  Too cold, too hot, too windy, not enough time - too many excuses. So, at least I got started...right?

The weather is turning more beautiful by day and soon I will want to bring the Cougar home for the summer.

I decided to start with my wife's side of the garage since there was less to deal with on that side.  I pulled everything out of the corners and away from the walls so I could sweep all the dust, grass, leaves, rocks, and dead bugs.  I thought that dealing with the grime first would get me to continue to clean the garage later.  *COUGH* *COUGH*

I rearranged some things that we would not be using anytime soon and put them out of the way in the back corner on my wife's side of the garage.  Other than that I swept up the dirt and grime, put some items in the trash or recycling bin, and organized items so we could get the cars back into the garage.

The next step is to figure out how to arrange and organize the garage to get the most use out of the area.
I recently picked up a magazine to help with that process and gather ideas.  I have thought about higher shelves and a way to hang up some items like my bike, the lawn spreader, and other cumbersome items.  Maybe some paint too...

My side of the garage contains the workbench, a shelf with miscellaneous items and the tool chests.  The back wall has the shovels, rakes and implements of destruction as well as two cabinets and the lawnmower and a door on the right side. My wife's side of the garage has the trash can, the recycling can and a couple of windows.  The garage has a 10 1/2 foot ceiling.

Hmmm...what to do?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Why Are There Not More Cougars On The Prowl?

I was doing a little reconnaissance (er...research) today on 1967 and 1968 Cougars on eBay. I do this from time to time just to check what's out there for sale and see if there's any interesting ideas on other rides that I could steal. The thing that caught my attention was that there were a lot of Classic Cougars for sale on the site today. Of the 50 total Cougars listed for sale (1967-2002), almost half of them (24 to be exact) were 1967-1970 models. Wow! There is a lot of classic Dearborn iron and steel out there for sale.

There could be a few reasons for that upsurge in old metal for sale. First, Spring is here and it starts the classic car selling season.  Second, tax time is less than a month away and people need to pay some taxes or pay off some debt.  Third, Spring cleaning season is here and the wife wants one of the "project cars" to go. Finally, the seller has gotten the itch for another car and the current one has to go to fund the new car.

So, that got me to thinking...with all of those Cougars for sale to make viable car show vehicles why are there not more Cougars on the prowl?

According to The Classic Cougar Network site Mercury produced over 150,000 cars in the first year 1967 and over one-hundred-thousand units the next two years in a row.

1967 Cougar – 150,893
1968 Cougar – 113,741
1969 Cougar – 100,085
Total – 364,719

If you throw in the 1970 Cougar, which shares much of the same characteristics as the 1969 model, there another 72,365 Cougars produced during a 4 year span bringing the total number to 437,084. Many consider the 1970 Cougars to be the end of the muscle car era for Mercury and the 1971-73 were just the beginning of the bloated, luxury models of the 1970's.

Most Cougars that I see for sale are still mostly in original condition with at most only the engine, paint or interior modified from stock. If modified, these Cougars usually have at least one of those areas still mostly original.

Further, the buyer can pick up a Cougar in very good condition for under $10,000 and almost anything over that threshold is either rare (i.e. GTE, XR7-G, or Eliminator) or in great or perfect condition. This is one of the reasons why I chose to buy a classic Cougar in the first place. The Cougar is a reasonably priced muscle car that usually came with more options than the Mustangs. So why would the Cougar popularity wane unlike the other 60's pony cars?

Another reason that I chose to buy a Cougar is that every car that rolled off the assembly line in the classic period (1967-1973) has a V-8!  That fact should be a huge incentive for car guys. There are no 6 cylinder engine swaps to figure out here like the Mustang or Camaro.  There is either a V-8 engine in the bay or the empty motor mounts are ready for one to be dropped into place.  The Cougar also came with motors that are both desirable and easy to find parts to rebuild or find more torque and horsepower. According to research done by the The Classic Cougar Network site, the 1967 came standard with the 289 and the buyer could also have opted to buy the big block 390.  In 1968, the engine options got even better - buyers could check the box for a 289, 302, 390, 427, and the 428 Cobra Jet. The zenith came in 1969 with the addition of the standard 351 Windsor engine, the Boss 302 and the 428 Cobra Jet/Ram Air to the line up, and in 1970 the 351 Cleveland was added too. The 289 was dropped in 1969 and the 390 was dropped in 1970, but you get the picture.

Cougars have the same issues as other muscle cars from the era. Rust can be prevalent in the floorboards, cowl, shock towers, rocker panels, lower doors, lower quarter panels, and behind the rear window. Other issues tend to happen with the vacuum operated flip up headlamp doors and the electronic sequential turn signals. Both of these issues can be remedied rather easily if most of the stock components still survive. The only issue that I see keeping Cougars from prowling the streets is the lack of new sheet metal to fix rust. There are companies that sell floors and patch panels, but no one sells full doors, hoods, trunk lids or fenders.

So what makes the other Pony cars more desirable? Let's start with the Mustang. For many classic car enthusiasts the Mustang is an affordable entry car to get into the hobby.  This can certainly be said for the Mustang Coupes. Due to their production numbers Mustangs are ubiquitous at car shows and in the print media. Over 2.25 million cars were produced from 1964-1969 and Ford was the clear leader with almost 2.6 million Pony cars (Mustang + Cougars) produced from 1964-1969. The popularity of the Mustang means that parts are available from a wide number of sources giving the owner easy access to restore one of these cars or even clone their favorite example. The Mustang prices start to go up when rarity enters the picture (i.e. Shelby, or GT cars) or when the words Fastback or Convertible come behind Mustang. Furthermore, Dynacorn makes shells for 1967-70 Mustang Fastbacks and you can build a completely new classic car from scratch. The 1967 or 1968 will set you back $15,500 and the 1969 or 1970 is $16,500.

Production Numbers
1964 Mustang – 126,538
1965 Mustang – 409,260
1966 Mustang – 607,568
1967 Mustang – 472,121
1968 Mustang – 317,148
1969 Mustang – 299,824
Total – 2,232,459

Similarly, the Chevrolet Camaro has been pre-eminent through the car show circuits and gracing the covers of car magazines for years as well. However, in recent years, prices for Camaros have skyrocketed along with other popular GM models. A buyer can hardly afford a rustbucket or a shell for under $7,500. The popularity has also led to negativity too. The First Generation Camaro has received scorn from some dyed-in-the-wool car guys because it seems as if a magazine like Hot Rod, Car Craft, or Popular Hot Rodding can’t go to print without having a First Generation Camaro on the cover or as a featured car inside the magazine. Furthering the popularity meter, Dynacorn is even making complete replica shells of this icon in both hardtop and convertible platforms for 1967 and 1969.

1967 Camaro – 220,906
1968 Camaro – 235,147
1969 Camaro – 243,085
Total – 698,138

The Pontiac Firebird seems to fall somewhere in-between the Camaro and the Cougar. A buyer can still buy a decent Firebird hardtop for under $10k and they aren’t as many at the car shows around town. According to Trans Am World site, Pontiac made only 276,683 of the First Generation Firebirds, which is 88,036 less than the Cougar production numbers from the same time period. That’s like another year of production numbers for one of those cars in that era. Nevertheless, Dynacorn still produces both a hardtop and convertible shell of the 1969 Pontiac Firebird. Where’s the love for other Ford models from Dynacorn?

1967 Firebird – 82,560
1968 Firebird – 107,112
1969 Firebird – 87,011
Total – 276,683

Finally, the Plymouth Barracuda is a different beast altogether. Plymouth never did sell too many Barracudas in the first place.  From 1964 to 1969 they sold less Barracuda's than Pontiac dealers sold from 1967-69. This could partly be from the fact that the Barracuda didn't receive a big block until 1969 and never received a Hemi between the front fenders. The Second Generation Barracudas are popular among the drag racing guys, but the money really goes up when the year on the title shifts to 1970's. Mopar parts are easier to come by generally, but due to low production numbers these cars are rare in general and the passing of 40 years has sent plenty of these cars to the crusher.

1964 Barracuda – 22,443
1965 Barracuda – 64,596
1966 Barracuda – 38,029
1967 Barracuda – 62,534
1968 Barracuda – 45,412
1969 Barracuda – 31,987
Total – 265,001

So, if you're looking for a muscle car to get into the hobby why not choose a Cougar?  There are many surviving vehicles with a combination of options including power steering, power brakes, automatic transmission and even air conditioning.  Further, 1967-1973 Cougars share the same platform as Ford Mustangs and so parts for floors and shock towers are easy to obtain. Finally, Ford crate engines and transmissions can be dropped in with ease. Get out there and start looking or get in touch I know where a few are right now!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Research Material For The Library

Recently, we received an e-mail for a 40% off any regularly priced item from Borders good for this weekend.  Since Borders has drastically decreased the size of their music and movie sections I find myself looking for books rather than CD's and DVD's.

If you have read most of the posts on this blog you'll know that when I bought the Cougar I received what is supposed to be the original engine along with the sale. The car came from the factory with a 289 cubic inch Ford Small Block with a two barrel carburetor, but currently the car has a 302 cubic inch engine with an Edelbrock intake and four barrel carburetor.  Eventually, I thought that I could rebuild the 289 and put it back in it's rightful place between the shock towers - with a few upgrades of course.

Today, my wife and I dropped our daughter off at my parents house so we could get some lunch and shop at a few stores.  After stopping at Applebee's for lunch and then Office Depot and Old Navy, we went to the Borders in Edwardsville.  My wife wanted to get a nice hardback edition of the Lewis Carroll classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass for Elsie's birthday this summer, but while at the store she changed her mind like any good woman.  I looked through the automotive section for this book, but they didn't have it in stock.  The coupon expired today so I didn't think too much more about it and figured I would buy it at a later date.

After we retrieved our daughter from my parents house, my wife decided she wanted to go to Jo-Ann's Fabrics and Crafts in Fairview Heights.  There is another Borders nearby so I figured we could stop again and look. Our daughter fell asleep shortly after leaving my parents house.  We went to Jo-Ann's first and my wife picked up what she needed and I stayed in the car with our sleeping daughter.  When my wife was done and we went to Borders, the little one was still asleep.  So my wife and I took turns going into the store. Sure enough this location had the book and they also had the edition my wife wanted to buy for our daughter.  The book I bought was regularly priced $24.95 and with the 40% off coupon I bought it for $14.97 plus tax.

I checked the Amazon later tonight and the book was selling for $16.47 plus shipping unless I bought over $25 then the shipping was free.

Now I can start doing some research on rebuilding the 289 when the time is right...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Red Puddles On The Floor

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had scheduled to work on the Cougar project list again this weekend. I met Steve at my parents house at 11:30 a.m. to get started on this project.

Steve wanted to take a ride in the car to see how the transmission was acting.  After a splash of gas at the local station, I was  driving the back roads to let Steve hear how the C-4 Cruise-A-Matic was shifting through the gears.  We put the Cougar through some paces and tried slow and fast starts from a dead stop and manually shifting through the gears forward and backward.  Steve determined that the shift from 1st gear to 2nd gear seemed smooth, but when shifting from 2nd gear to 3rd gear something was slipping, but not each time.

I drove the Cougar back to my parent's house and proceeded to get started.  I put the car up on the lift and gathered tools to get going.  Steve said that I would be turning the wrenches and that was fine with me because I learn better that way!

Parts List:
Wix Transmission Filter and Pan Gasket PN 58923 - $6.98
1 gallon Automatic Transmission Fluid
24 oz. bottle of Lucas Oil Transmission Fix - $11.99

Tools List:
3/8 inch socket wrench
1/2 inch socket
7/16 inch socket
1/4 inch socket wrench
5/16 inch socket
Common screwdriver
Torque wrench (Inch lbs.)
Fluid catch pan

I started by loosening the eleven 1/2 inch bolts on the bottom of the transmission pan.  Steve advised that I completely remove bolts on one end to start to empty the fluid from the pan.  If I loosened all of the bolts and dropped the pan then transmission fluid would be all over the floor.  After I removed the bolts from one end I inserted the screwdriver between the pan and the body of the transmission to pry open the pan and let some of the fluid out. The fluid splashed down in the catch tray and I continued loosening the bolts and repeated the process with the screwdriver until I had to remove all the bolts holding the pan to the transmission to get the rest of the fluid out.

The next step was to remove the filter from the bottom of the valve body. This was pretty easy as it was attached with mostly 5/16 inch bolts plus one 7/16 inch bolt. I took the old filter off and put the new one on with ease.

I cleaned the transmission pan and getting the pan gasket ready I put the pan back on and tightened the eleven bolts back down.  As I was putting the pan back on Steve used the torque wrench to adjust the bands from the outside of the transmission. I added the Lucas Oil transmission fix and most of a gallon of transmission fluid.  I got too much fluid in there and created a puddle on the floor so we needed to take some out. We removed roughly a quart of fluid to get back to the correct level on the dipstick.

After checking the level one last time, Steve and I went for another ride.  The car performed normally when we started moving and there were no leaks when backing out of the garage. Steve directed me through the same series of tests from before. The slip from 2nd to 3rd was still there so I'll just have to live with that for a while until it's time to rebuild the transmission.

As we were working Steve knew where to find the tags and part numbers for the transmission. Here's what we found out about the transmission in the Cougar. With a little more research we could probably find out what month and year the transmission was produced.

  • Transmission Part Number: C6DP-7006-A
  • Transmission Tag: PEE C 2896M27B4
  • Servo Cover Tag: C6AP-70027-C
  • Valve Body Tag: 2P 3
Update on the project list:
  • Paint the hood scoop red and take off the rear spoiler and fill in the holes
  • Check out the transmission - adjust bands, add new fluid, new filter, and pan gasket
  • Install new KYB gas-a-just shocks on all four corners
  • Start gathering parts for the missing heater system
  • Shine wheels [half done]
  • Wash and wax car
  • Aim headlights
  • Flush radiator

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Makin' Them Shine!

This morning Elsie and I went to my parents house so they could see Elsie and I could work on shining the wheels on the Cougar.  The current set of wheels are 14" Centerlines from American Racing and while I would rather have something else on the car the funds are not available at this time to change wheels and tires.  I would rather spend my money on upgrading other parts of the car first and trying to make the current set of wheels look better first. Another post will be dedicated to researching which wheels will fit and be going on the car in the future.

To get started on this project I got out the air wrench and a 13/16 socket and jacked up the car. I removed a wheel from the car and placed it on a portable workbench. I used a three step process to clean these all-aluminum wheels.  First, I wiped the metal cleaning polish on the wheels with a microfiber rag to start to loosen the dirt and grime.  Second, I used a polishing ball in a portable drill to clean the majority of dirt and corrosion off the wheels.  I moved around workbench and the wheel with the portable drill in a clockwise direction to keep the polishing ball from jumping off the wheel.  Finally, I used a clean microfiber rag to wipe off the excess product and dirt and buff the wheel clean.

I cleaned the two wheels on the driver's side today and now I just need to clean the passenger side. I spent about 45 minutes to an hour cleaning each wheel twice as they are quite dirty.  In the future I will likely use a Mother's wheel product on the wheels, but first I wanted to see the difference between the other two wheels with the cleaning product alone.

I forgot to take pictures of the results today, but I will be posting them here soon.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Time Is Running Out On Winter Projects

As Spring quickly approaches it's time to start thinking about getting the Mercury out of the garage again.  Last Saturday, I went to my parent's house where the Cougar has been sleeping for the winter to rouse it from its slumber.  I started the car and let it run for a while and then my dad and I took it for a ride around the country roads. Today would have been a perfect day to drive as it was in the low 70's and sunny all day.  However, you can't always count on that


  • Paint the hood scoop red and take off the rear spoiler and fill in the holes
  • Check out transmission - adjust bands, add new fluid, new filter, and pan gasket
  • Install new KYB gas-a-just shocks on all four corners
  • Start gathering parts for the missing heater system
  • Shine wheels
  • Wash and wax car

As a Christmas present my dad offered to pay to have the hood scoop and rear spoiler painted.  However, I would like to remove the spoiler as I don't think it looks right and takes away from the lines that I like about the car.  So, I need to call my dad's friend Tom and have him check the paint color so he can match the scoop and trunk lid for the right color. I would also like to see if he can paint a

Tonight, I called my dad's friend Steve and tentatively scheduled a day to drop the transmission pan and check out the guts of the C-4. Hopefully, the gears look good and will not need a rebuild.

I found out recently that another friend is moving back to the area in a few weeks and I plan on asking him to help with the installation of the new shocks as I have never tackled this sort of project myself.

Last weekend I stopped by the Mustang Corral and got some prices on what I needed to put the stock heater system back into the car.  This will help keep the rushing cold air from coming inside the cabin and help with rides later in the year when the weather gets cooler.  I asked about a possible trade for the spoiler and they said that was possible so I'm happy about that prospect.

Next I need to think about what car shows I might want to attend.