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Saturday, February 07, 2015

Third vehicle - 1968 Mercury Cougar

I purchased my second car, a 1968 Mercury Cougar, from my mom for $500.  The Credit Union loaned me the money because she didn't have the finances to lend me money and still replace the Cougar.  That car was about 10 years old with 110,000 miles on it when I began driving it, and by that point the engine was ready for major work.  The valve guides were shot, and the rest of the engine probably wasn't too far behind.  Not Detroit's strongest materials back then.

I had pretty much grown up with this car.  My mom bought it after her and dad divorced, and all our travels had been done in it.  So I knew it was well taken care of, and never abused (at least until I got it).  The Cougar was very reliable, and it had an awesome heater in it... so it made an excellent ski vehicle.  The car weighed a lot, and had a low-performance Ford 289-2V (2V = 2 venturi carburetor) engine, so it was a dog.  The handling and fuel economy weren't that great either.  But as I said, it was reliable and had a great heater.

There was always something I wanted to do, but could never afford to:  Make it a fire-breathing hot rod.  What I *could* afford was to cut off the muffler and clamp a single glass-pack muffler to the combined exhaust pipe.  It was a pretty stupid move.  The new muffler hung low under the car, as I never bothered to suspend it.  The car actually performed worse, and the noise was an indistinct deep gargle.  Definitely not the crackling sound of a high performance motor.

The car had some pretty cool features that were rare in the day.  It had headlight covers that rolled up, and the rear turn signals sequenced three lights.  You could always hear a little motor running the sequencer across each electrical contact, somewhere back in the trunk, when the turn signal was on. Apparently they now make a solid-state sequencer.

Below is a video showing off all the cool stuff on the exterior of a 68 Cougar.  I wouldn't open the hood of my Cougar for a video either.  There's nothing to brag about in the engine bay unless you had the 390-4V or 428-4V, in which case this car would be in somebody's collection :)

My car looked more like the one below, except it had a black vinyl roof.  Who came up with the idea of putting plastics on the roof?  They eventually get weathered and develop a million cracks, then fall to pieces.  One thing is certain, my Cougar *never* sounded as good as the one in the video above.

To open the trunk on this car, you had to rotate the "Cougar" emblem on the trunk to expose the lock.  The fuel filler cap was behind the rear license plate, which rotated down for fueling.  A spring pulled  it back into place when fueling was completed.  Pretty cool touches, I think.

The old Coug always had one really annoying problem that I never got fixed, and that was the side windows wouldn't seal at the top front (The "A" Pillar).  Any time you took the car to a car wash, you had to take a passenger along to hold a washcloth up to the window so that water would not pour down inside the car door.  There was a ton of black goop at the leaking spot where someone (car dealer???) had tried to fix the leaks , but apparently they eventually gave up and sold it to my mom.

Eventually I sold this car to a friend whose T-Bird's motor had died.  By then I had a replacement that I was able to "borrow", and which got me involved in a long-running interest in sports cars.

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