’67 Cougar just the ticket
Special to The Union
When Jim Baubel moved into the area about nine years ago, he stopped by a Roamin Angels’ Friday morning breakfast and enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow car afficionados.
There was only one problem: The qualification for club membership is owning a 1972 or older American car. He loved cars and did own a couple of ’90s collectable Mercedes Benzes, but no American cars. He figured he would buy one in time, but the years passed.
Last November, Jim was cruising through cars for sale on eBay when one caught his eye. It was a ’67 Mercury Cougar.
He had owned a ’68 back in 1972 and liked the car very much. After owning it five years, he sold it for a small profit and thought that was great.
Years later, he wished he still had it (a story true for many car buffs). When he clicked on the Cougar, he became very interested.
It had 39,000 original miles on it and was what Jim calls a “semi-barn find.” The seller was a Mustang restorer who bought it in an estate sale. It had supposedly been owned by a little old couple who had never driven it farther than about 50 miles away from home.
They had put it in storage in 1988 and there it stayed until their heirs sold it to a Mustang restorer in 2011. Considering its condition, Jim found the story believable. The body, paint and interior were in excellent, unrestored condition. The Cougar was about as stripped down of a model as possible, right down to the base 289 CID two-barrel carb engine, no console between the bucket seats, no power steering or brakes, no tint on the glass and even “dog dish” hub caps.
The only options were an auto trans and an AM radio. But the original condition made the car very desirable. It even had the black-and-yellow plates and dealer license plate frames from 1967, plus the owner’s manual and such in the glove box.
Jim got in contact with the seller. He had originally bought the Cougar to keep and had gone completely through it to make it safe and dependable after sitting so long, as well as to look good. All hoses, belts and rubber parts were replaced. The brakes were rebuilt and a complete tune-up was done.
He had even pulled the engine and trans to replace any seals and gaskets that had dried out, but they had been in otherwise great running condition. The seller had sunk about $7,500 into the car because he had planned to keep it.
After negotiating the price down a little, Jim bought the Cougar and drove it home. Since then, he has replaced the exhaust system that was starting to rust out from age and has put on new, raised-white-letter tires. The ignition was acting up, so he had a Pertronix electronic one installed in the stock distributor. He has also toyed with the idea of adding power steering and front-disc power brakes to make it easier to drive, along with air conditioning. He’s torn between either keeping the car completely original or making it more comfortable for long drives.
For Jim, that’s what a car is about — to drive rather than to “show.” And he has, already putting a few thousand miles on the Cougar since he bought it, including a drive down to L.A.
Now that he owns an American car older than 1973, he joined the Roman Angels Car Club and plans to go on the club’s many cruises. He even plans to go on the long ones that go out of state. Plus, he enjoys getting together with other car lovers to talk “car stuff.” He says, “My ’67 is a ticket to be a bona fide member and I’ve met some wonderful people in the club.”
For more about Ron Cherry and his writing, see http://www.rlcherry.com. For more information about the Roamin Angels Car Club, visit http://www.roaminangels.com, call 530-432-8449, write to Roamin Angels, P.O. Box 1616, Grass Valley, CA 95945, or just stop by IHOP on Taylorville Road some Friday at 6:30 a.m. for breakfast.
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