Finishing Touches Required: 1970 Mercury Cougar

I know that there are readers who are going to look at this 1970 Mercury Cougar and see a project car that needs little work to complete, while there will be some who will be cautious and skeptical about it. Taking the car on face value, it does seem that a lot of work has been completed for the money. If you look at the Cougar and it really ticks all the boxes for you, then you will find the car located in West Springfield, Massachusetts. It is being sold with a clean title, and you will find it listed for sale here on Craigslist. I have to thank Barn Finder AMXBrian for referring this Cougar to us.

Judging by the information provided in the ad description, there has been a lot of work completed on the body of the Cougar to make it a strong and rust-free car. The underside of the car has been stripped, the floors and lower quarter panels have been replaced, and the whole underside has been painted with POR-15. The rest of the body has been stripped, and it is now finished in etch primer. The owner doesn’t provide any shots of the underside of the car, and the imperfections that are visible on the front fender in this shot do make me a bit cautious. There are also some other imperfections visible in other areas of the car. Having said that, I don’t think that I’m alone in believing that I would never buy a car simply on the strength of some photos. I would always want to inspect the car myself or get someone competent to perform the inspection for me.

The interior is partially dismantled, but the dash itself looks pretty decent, as does the pad. There are some items missing from the dash, but the owner doesn’t indicate whether these are present, and just not installed. The front seats have been reupholstered, and the car is also fitted with new carpet. If everything is present, then the interior is going to need a serious clean and detail to bring it up to scratch.

The Cougar is fitted with a 351ci Cleveland V8, an automatic transmission, and a Posi rear end with 3.55 gears. The transmission is freshly rebuilt, while the owner has certainly had plenty of nice work done on the 351. The engine has been bored .030″ over. It has been fitted with Keith Black pistons, a Competition cam, MSD distributor and ignition, and a new 4-barrel carburetor. The brakes have also been given the treatment, with new lines, new wheel cylinders, new front discs, the rear brakes have been rebuilt, and the car has also been fitted with new shocks.

On the face of it, this Cougar project shows a lot of promise. Certainly, the mechanical work that has been completed should make this a car that performs really well. A personal inspection would confirm how well the rust repairs and body preparation have been performed. The owner says that the car is complete, and merely requires finishing and reassembly. He has priced the car for sale at $6,500. Is this a project that you would take on?

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Comments

  1. Craig

    Nice on face value but for sure needs a close look. The gaps between the doors and body panels are all over the place. Maybe just need adjustment? Or maybe the car was hit in the past?

    Like 4
    • whmracer99

      Yup, hood alignment and the obvious damage to the left fender would make me wonder if the entire front structure is shifted. Lots of questions.

      Like 4
  2. whmracer99

    2 questions would be what quality is the work that’s already been done and where are all the parts not shown in the pictures. I’m always very leery about projects that have been done this far and then stall and this one has more than a few warning flags. As you mentioned, I’d have to lay my hands on this one before even thinking about laying out $6500 for it. Could be a good deal, could be a disaster waiting for an unfortunate buyer.

    Like 6
  3. Troy s

    I like the direction this Cougar was headed for, mildly built street machine but not over done. Could be a real cool cat.

    Like 3
  4. Retired Stig

    As whmracer99 so aptly pointed out, the issue with this car, based on the photos is a low standard of work and parts purchased for price, not quality. The poorly routed plumbing, zip ties, universal fit radiator hose, and cobby body work all suggest this will need substantial reworking of everything already done, making its value questionable.

    Like 3
  5. Terry Bowman

    Nice project car, but to bad it’s not a RX7. I had one and it was a good running car with the same motor, but a 2bbl with a FMX tranny. I beat the heck out of it for 10 years until the body gave out to rust. The power train was then sold to a guy who turned it into a drag set up. I am a “MOPAR” guy, but that was a “Great” motor.

    Like 3
    • CATHOUSE

      The Cougar had an XR-7 model, Mazda made the RX7.

      • Terry Bowman

        Sorry Cathouse, your right a got confused with my rx & xr’s. I also had a RX2 and RX3 back in the 70’s. XR7 it is on the Cougar

        Like 2
      • CATHOUSE

        No worries Terry. As a Cougar collector and enthusiast it is just one of those little things that have become a pet peeve of mine.

        Like 2
  6. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    For the area not a bad price – maybe some southern rust free parts on it that need a little adjustment – still lot’s of work done on this cat – put this in my buy – side.

    Like 1
  7. Richard Gaskill

    A Ford product would not have a Posi rear end. That’s a trademarked GM product.

    Like 1
  8. Dan

    Just putting my XR7 back together and well worth the effort, prices rising quickly.

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