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Mercury Cougar restoration: Swiss precision work on the US car

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Mercury Cougar restoration
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At first glance the mighty M ercury Cougar like a foreign body in Walter Petrig's small collection of classic Porsches. The Swiss from the canton of Schwyz drove products from Zuffenhausen as early as the 1970s and was active in the Porsche Cup Swiss for 25 years. Petrig's first screwdriving activities took place during this time, and a few years ago he decided to restore a 75 911 Turbo. 'This was my journeyman's piece, so to speak,' says the 62-year-old, although looking at the car looks more like the work of a master.

After a Porsche restoration comes the Mercury Cougar

Petrig values ​​perfection, you can see that in all of his Porsche. But how did he come to buy a Mercury Cougar to buy and restore? 'My father drove a car like this for a number of years, so I always toyed with the idea of ​​owning a Cougar too,' is the answer. It almost came about during a trip to the USA, but the specimen under consideration turned out to be very heavily modified, which is why Petrig decided not to buy it. Funnily enough, it almost worked on your own doorstep some time later. 'I was driving from Zurich to Schlieren and suddenly saw a 1968 Cougar at a dealer, like the one my father owned,' Petrig remembers the lucky coincidence.

Of course, he looked at the car immediately , and after a mechanic called in also approved the purchase, Petrig became the Cougar owner. The technology of the Mercury Cougar was there in fair condition, but a restoration was inevitable. There were several traces of rust on the body, but a closer inspection of the vehicle floor prevented a black underbody protection layer.

A good purchase with little rust

As a precaution, Petrig therefore directed his new acquisition to a specialist company that cleaned the underside of the vehicle with an ice blasting device. The few rust perforations on the Mercury Cougar that became visible after this procedure confirmed the assumption that the car was a worthwhile oneThe object to be restored.

Now the hobby restorer could immediately start the dismantling work in his garage. He removed the entire interior, all external attachments, the electrics including wiring harness, the entire drive and the chassis, until the body shell of the Mercury Cougar was left. He can only recommend his approach to everyone: 'I documented every step in writing or photographically, labeled parts and packed the screws belonging to an assembly in separate containers so that I didn't have to solve any puzzles during later assembly.'

Then the boned body was put in a paint stripping bath and then in another bath to protect the bare sheet metal from rust. In the meantime, Petrig began to take care of the procurement of the necessary parts. He discovered the corresponding spare parts dealers via the Internet in the USA. To his delight, there were still many original parts available for the Mercury Cougar, which were delivered quickly and easily. Their accuracy of fit was also gratifying, as in the case of the front standing plates under the fenders or the left floor panel in the area of ​​the pedals the body work

He left the body work to a specialist company in his hometown, applying the same standards to the execution as when restoring his Porsche. Because, as already mentioned, perfection is very important to him. The company he chose met his high standards. The self-made metal sheets for repairs in the rear area also fitted exactly, all welds were tinned. You won't find any filling points on this Mercury Cougar.

The Swiss man was able to recruit the retired mechanic who once looked after his father's Mercury Cougar to overhaul the engine and transmission. The test drive had already shown that no disasters were to be expected. The gearbox only needed a new oil filling and had to be freshly sealed.

Screwing to compensate for a stressful job

The V8 engine was still the original 4.9 liter engine Displacement, but at some point it had been brought up to the level of the high-performance version, as found in the Shelby GT 350, i.e. it developed almost 100 hp more than the series version. No innards had to be replaced, but the entire periphery, including the cooling circuit and ignition system, was revised, the engine was optically refurbished and provided with a new air filter and new decorative valve covers with Mercury Cougar lettering.

Meanwhile, Petrig dealt with it the refurbishment of various parts of his Mercury Cougar, 'because a restoration includes maintaining the original parts,' emphasizes the architect. So he has a lot inCleaned, sanded and polished countless hours instead of buying it new. Screwing is of particular importance to him: 'I basically enjoy restoring, and the manual work is a compensation for the stressful everyday work.'

1,000-hour restoration without time pressure

While working on his Mercury Cougar, it became clear to him again and again that, despite a certain amount of experience, he is far from being a professional screwdriver. Sometimes you're just stuck because something doesn't work or a part doesn't fit properly, 'he admits. Then it often helped to let it sit and do something else, and the next day it suddenly worked. If necessary, he used that Opportunity to ask the appropriate experts for advice.

In addition to the self-created documentation, the screwdriver literature with numerous illustrations and instructions available for the Mercury Cougar was particularly helpful. 'However, the installation of the overhauled wiring harness took longer as its expansion, 'says Petrig with a wink. He enjoyed being able to work without time pressure. The fact that he ultimately invested over 1,000 hours in the restoration does not matter to him.' Restoring requires patience, 'he says.

A lot of personal work and 2 optimizations

Most of the assembly work was done by himself leads. The brake system of the Mercury Cougar was completely overhauled with available new parts, all wearing parts of the chassis were new, and he had the spring detonation checked on the leaf springs before installation.

Of the numerous options offered to optimize the driving behavior, he did not use it, with two exceptions: He added a strut bar to the V-braces built into the front area of ​​the export versions of the Mercury Cougar to stabilize the front structure. To do this, he installed Koni shock absorbers.

He also deviated from the original when painting the car. Since his childhood memories were the trigger for the whole project, the Mercury Cougar had to be the same color as his father's, namely Wellington Blue. This is exactly how the US classic fits perfectly into his collection of cars with a perfect appearance and personal memories, even if it's not a Porsche.

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