Surprised to see this beauty again? Trust me, you aren’t the only one. The 1987 Mercury Cougar LS that we recovered from an Indiana backyard after a ten-year slumber, coaxed back into life, and promptly kicked the guts out of at NCM Motorsports Park’s King of the Heap event last winter is still alive and in one piece! Yes, in the last update we said that it would be the last installment of the Dirty Cougar project, and that’s accurate enough for one reason: we had been keeping a financial tally of the money sunk into the car just to get it up and running, and the final total at the end of the March 2019 KOTH race was $1,266.19. That’s everything from the purchase of the car to touch-up paint for the rear bumper trim. Not bad for a legitimate 5.0L powered Fox body. With that said and done, the Mercury languished around BangShift Mid-West until early summer, when I made a handshake deal with one of the teammates from the KOTH event. Chris Conn is now the owner of the Cougar and as the December 7th, 2019 date for the first race approaches, we decided it was time to dig into the sand-colored cat and see if we could give it some more life.
The Cougar has been parked for most of the second half of the year because the car’s biggest Achilles’ heel, the electrical connector that’s behind the key tumbler, is getting progressively more and more worn out and needs to be replaced. That job requires a rivet gun, a drill and time. But there are other issues at hand, including a power steering unit that leaked so badly we almost got black-flagged from racing. We have a list of things we’d like to do to the car, including a 4.10 Track-Lok gear setup for the rear axle, some engine modifications, suspension that actually works and so on and so forth, but safety is key and we’re both on shoestring car budgets with other builds going on. So, consider this a first-look for this year’s cheap-car racing return story.