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Persistence Pays Off
Jeff Blaine, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., says he knew about a yellow 1969 XR-7 hardtop Cougar in nearby Dillsburg for about 10 years and “tried for nearly that long to buy it from the guy.”
His persistence paid off in 2014, when the owner agreed to sell. The transaction brought full circle Blaine’s love of Cougars. He owned his first Cougar as a teen, in the early 1980s. It also was a yellow 1969 with a black vinyl top, but it was a standard rather than XR-7. “I’d still have that car today if it would not have been hit and totaled in an accident,” Blaine says. “I never stopped loving Cougars. It would take me 29 years to get another one.”
His current cat is a keeper, and he’s been working diligently the past few years to bring it back as close as possible to its original condition. “I have nothing against guys and gals who modify their Cougars, but I enjoy keeping my Cougar as close to factory original as possible,” Blaine says. “I go to great lengths to ensure this. I enjoy the research and learning from others about these cars.”
The car still has its original 351 Windsor engine, including a one-year-only 450 cfm Autolite carb, and FMX transmission and 3.00 rear end. Original options include A/C, a black vinyl top, AM/FM radio, front bumper guards, deluxe belts, door edge guards, and tilt steering. Options not original to the car include a rear defogger, new electronics in the radio and new speakers front and back, and new wheels. Significant restoration projects have included a new vinyl top and headliner, rear deck, and paint.
The car, originally from California, has just more than 124,000 miles on the odometer. Blaine, a retired soldier with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, says he drives the car mostly on weekends and to the occasional show.
As for lessons learned, Blaine has this advice: “Don’t be afraid to try some of the new reproduction parts that are out there. Just be patient while restoring. Try not to overwhelm yourself by doing too much at once.”