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68 Cougar restoration journey

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  • 68 Cougar restoration journey

    My journey actually started in 1988 when I brought home a '68 Cougar for $600 dollars. It was in boxes, so my dad and I proceeded to put it together just in time for my 16th birthday. I drove it through high school and some in college. It already had a fair amount of rust on it when I bought it, so I always knew it would take some serious work to make it nice. About a month ago I pulled it out of my parents' shed after sitting there since 2003. Here's what it looked like:



    I've already got the front fenders pulled off and have replaced some of the sheetmetal on the fender aprons that had been poorly repaired when I got it (patch panels set on and brazed in place). I took measurements off of a '67 parts car and tried to replicate things as well as possible. Here's what that repair looks like at this point:



    It still needs some finishing and then painting, but it's getting there. I just made a big purchase from NPD to get things like floor pans, torque boxes, radiator support and a few other things. I'm trying to get everything underneath the car done myself and will probably let a professional do the more cosmetically important bodywork like fenders.

    I plan on doing the car in 2 phases. The first is to just get it back road worthy again. That includes getting rust repair taken care of, replace the clutch, put a carburetor on it, and a bunch of other things that a 50 year old car needs to have done. Later on I'll get serious about getting the body repaired and put a nice paint job on it. I also have plans of converting to an FE and 5-speed somewhere along the way, too. I'll do as much of the work on it myself as I can and only farm things out when I don't have the required skills or tools. I'm sure this will push my abilities quite a bit. Fortunately I've got a heated garage, a nice air compressor and a decent welder, so I should be able to do most of it myself. My goal is to have it running next Spring, but that may be pushing it depending on how much rust repair I end up needing to do.
    Last edited by Steve68Cougar; 01-25-2017, 07:11 AM.
    68 Cougar - 289, 4-speed
    '08 Mustang Bullitt #4492
    Previous Mustangs - '98 Cobra convertible, 87 GT

  • #2
    I love the 67-68 Cougars! Good luck on the redo
    ----1999 F150 XLT Lariat Super Cab 4X4 5.4----
    -----1947 Lincoln Zephyr Coupe 5.0-----
    -----2000 Expedition XLT 4.6----
    " Sometimes you fix the car, sometimes the car fixes you" Steve L.

    "Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America". President Donald J. Trump

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    • #3
      Always great to see the old Cougars. I might be able to help with the FE swap parts-got the cross member for a C-6. In fact, I think i have everything from the motor mounts to the 9" rear end. Make sure you post lots of pics.
      Randy
      68 Cougar XR7, Heidt's R&P, Blown 331, 9"
      69 Cougar Eliminator
      71 Pinto-289, auto-ex drag now on street

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      • #4
        Thanks guys. My current plans are to keep a manual transmission in it, but I'll probably be looking for some of the other parts eventually. The differential actually got swapped out to a '59 Ranchero 9", so I should be good with that. It's currently got a 28 spline 3.70 Traction Lok (out of a pickup), but I'm sure I'll want to upgrade the whole thing to a nodular case and 31 (or more) splines. I'll work on getting some pictures posted along the way.
        68 Cougar - 289, 4-speed
        '08 Mustang Bullitt #4492
        Previous Mustangs - '98 Cobra convertible, 87 GT

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        • #5
          Here's my "before" shot of the engine compartment (minus what I've already done on the fender aprons):



          It needs a LOT of cleaning and a fresh coat of paint along with replacing some sheetmetal underneath the battery tray and a couple of other small spots. Unfortunately pack rats got into it a number of years ago and some of the wiring will have to be redone. A used 600 or 650 Holley double pumper will be on my shopping list, too.
          68 Cougar - 289, 4-speed
          '08 Mustang Bullitt #4492
          Previous Mustangs - '98 Cobra convertible, 87 GT

          Comment


          • #6
            I got in some sheetmetal yesterday. First thing I noticed is that most pieces are "close" but not quite correct. Here's the repro seat riser:



            versus the original in the car:



            There are some obvious differences. Most notable is the slots instead of holes for the seat mounts. None of the stiffener ribs are the same, either. Functionally everything will still work, but there's definitely a difference. I can see why people doing high end restorations want to use original sheetmetal instead of repro. One interesting tidbit - the Cougar seat riser is 1" lower than the Mustang seat riser. If you need more headroom in your Mustang you can replace the seat risers with Cougar pieces.

            I'm glad I got a full length floorpan for the driver's side. The "long front" version wouldn't have quite gotten to the rust at the rear of the seat riser. I'll probably end up patching in the few bad spots rather than replacing the whole thing.

            One other thing I noticed is the strut tower (export) brace will require me to jack the shock towers out slightly. From the reading I've been doing (someone correct me if I'm wrong), the Scott Drake version uses the "correct" dimensions, so if it doesn't fit then the shock towers have moved (or they were never correct to begin with). It looks like it will take less than 1/4" to get everything in the right place.
            68 Cougar - 289, 4-speed
            '08 Mustang Bullitt #4492
            Previous Mustangs - '98 Cobra convertible, 87 GT

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            • #7
              Here's the next before and after:


              and


              My sheetmetal skills still need a lot of work. I'm pretty sure it will take body filler to make things smooth. I may still try to smooth things out some. I'm open to suggestions on technique and tools that people use to make their sheetmetal smooth. I used as little of the reproduction piece as possible, as the shape was terrible on it. I had to do quite a bit of massaging on it to get it as close as I did.
              68 Cougar - 289, 4-speed
              '08 Mustang Bullitt #4492
              Previous Mustangs - '98 Cobra convertible, 87 GT

              Comment


              • #8
                Cool thread! I can't believe I hadn't noticed it here before. I love work in progress threads, keep up the good work!
                '70 Mach 1 - '72 Sprint - '94 F-150 XL -'97 E-150 - '05 Sable LS
                My Mach's restoration progress
                My Sprint's restoration progress
                "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

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                • #9
                  Thanks!

                  Next up is getting the drivetrain out. Just a few bolts and it's ready to be pulled. Here's what I've been running for exhaust behind my headers:



                  I'll do a little cleaning on the Hurst shifter and throw it back in the car when it's time to go back together.
                  68 Cougar - 289, 4-speed
                  '08 Mustang Bullitt #4492
                  Previous Mustangs - '98 Cobra convertible, 87 GT

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Ah, too quiet, huh?
                    '70 Mach 1 - '72 Sprint - '94 F-150 XL -'97 E-150 - '05 Sable LS
                    My Mach's restoration progress
                    My Sprint's restoration progress
                    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It's great that you're documenting your journey with this- thank you for that. I'll be watching!

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                      • #12
                        I think the mufflers cost me about $5 each back in '89. We'll see if the neighbors make me get something a little quieter.

                        This restoration is about 14 years in the making, so I'm happy to share. I've got a similar thread going on one of the Cougar websites, but I know this site has a lot of very knowledgeable people with older FoMoCo products, so I may end up asking a few questions.

                        Today I pulled the seat riser out to get it refurbished. Here's a shot of the underside:



                        The shape is quite a bit different, including the repro being 1 1/2" shorter from the front to the back. I ended up just removing the necessary material to get the old one back in shape. Here's what I took out:



                        and here's what it looks like finished up:



                        I ended up putting POR-15 on the bottom side so the rust hopefully won't happen again.
                        68 Cougar - 289, 4-speed
                        '08 Mustang Bullitt #4492
                        Previous Mustangs - '98 Cobra convertible, 87 GT

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hopefully you're transferring that center brace too?
                          '70 Mach 1 - '72 Sprint - '94 F-150 XL -'97 E-150 - '05 Sable LS
                          My Mach's restoration progress
                          My Sprint's restoration progress
                          "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The center brace stayed in there. That was part of my concern with the new piece - no room to put it without major modification. I could just imagine a "pop" every time I got in the car without it there.
                            68 Cougar - 289, 4-speed
                            '08 Mustang Bullitt #4492
                            Previous Mustangs - '98 Cobra convertible, 87 GT

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Here's my next step:



                              I've got both sides opened up and fortunately it doesn't look like rust made it through anywhere. I'm working on getting the junk out of there and getting a bit of surface prep done so the POR-15 will stick. I think the mice really liked it in that area, as the driver's side was absolutely packed with mouse nest. There's no way I could have gotten all of the mouse "stuff" out of there without opening things up. I'm just glad I didn't have to take the whole cowl off!
                              68 Cougar - 289, 4-speed
                              '08 Mustang Bullitt #4492
                              Previous Mustangs - '98 Cobra convertible, 87 GT

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