Harry Unruh's 1969 Mercury Cougar Eliminator

First purchased August 1, 1969 ... 
Re-purchased 40 years later, August 15, 2009 ... 
Restoration completed July 15, 2011.

*   The Story In More Detail

This story actually begins in 1967 while still in college. I fell in love with the 1967 Cougars and before my graduation in June of that year, I ordered a new '67 Standard Cougar, 289-4V, Automatic, no A/C. It was a fun car and served me very well over the following 2+ years I owned it.

Then, when the 1969's came out, I was impressed with the new styling and had the urge to make a trade. But since we were then living in a remote northern community of BC, Canada, there was no Mercury dealer nearby so I had to wait until we got back to Vancouver. In the meantime, I saw a picture in a magazine (which, BTW I also now have .. January 1969 issue of Hot Rod) of the new Eliminator and then was determined to get one just like it.

We made the trip to Vancouver on July 30 for a family event. The next morning we  went straight to the Mercury dealer (Geo. Black Motors in Vancouver, BC) not knowing what he had in stock. And to my amazement, he had just the car I had been dreaming about, the 1969 Eliminator in the color (Competition orange) and with most of the options I wanted (351W-4V, Automatic, no A/C). I think it took all of 15 minutes to complete the deal, and I took delivery the next morning, August 1, 1969.

It was a great car and I owned it for the next 5 years. Initially, I had a lot of carburetor problems; it just wouldn't accelerate right. It took the local dealer almost a year to get it working properly.  The car was great fun to drive (and race) and ran extremely well over this period.

However, over these 5 years, a number of changes took place in my life. We relocated back to Vancouver, purchased a new house in the suburbs, started a family, and basically settled down to family life. And as you all know, the Cougar is not a practical family car, and we could not afford a second large-enough vehicle to haul the family.  Along with this, the car was attracting far too much attention from the local constabulary and I was accumulating too many tickets. So it was decided that we would need to replace it with a larger, more 'docile' and less obtrusive car, which we did in the spring of 1974.

I learned shortly after I had sold the car that the new owner had 'totaled' it in a collision. This really ticked me off! My precious Eliminator was no more!

Almost as soon as I had sold the Eliminator, I regretted it, and it has been the one car of the more than 20 I have owned that I wished I had kept.

Over the years since, I had always been curious to see if any used '69 Eliminators would become available for sale. I would frequently do a cursory search for a 1969 Eliminator similar to the one I had owned.  Of course, in the early years without internet, this was somewhat more difficult to do, so most of my searches would be in either the classic car sales catalogs or at car shows. Then with the introduction of the internet and easier searching, I often did a 'surf' to see what if anything 'was out there', knowing what I would find (if anything) would not be my car since it had been 'totaled'.  But I still had the desire to someday get another one if possible.

Fast forward to the summer of 2009. My wife and I had gone to several collector/antique car shows that summer and the urge to get into a project car really hit both of us. We had some discretionary cash from an inheritance, and I was semi- retired and had a lot of spare time that needed filling.

So one evening I started surfing the net for "1969 Cougar Eliminator" and came up with several hits that looked interesting; two in particular. One was white with black interior that had been restored and priced quite high, the other an orange one just like the one we had owned 40 years earlier. But of course it wasn't ours; it had been totaled!! This one had a "For Sale" website, but the site was already more than 1 ½ years old so would likely not be available any longer, but what the heck, I'd send the seller an email and see where it led. I explained my background, that I had owned one just like his, that it had been totaled, and was interested in his car since it was very similar (actually identical) to what I had owned. This was Saturday, August 8, 2009.

The seller responded soon after I'd sent the email, saying the car was still available, and, yes, this car had also at one time been totaled and repaired, and that this was very likely my original Eliminator. We compared some more details such as original dealership, purchase date, etc. and it was determined that this was in fact my original Cougar.

After several days of email communication, we agreed on a price and I re-purchased my original 1969 Cougar Eliminator. I felt like a kid at Christmas. A week later I brought the car home and we soon decided that we needed to get the car back to its original condition as well.

Since then I have received a copy of the original B.C. Motor Vehicle Registration for the car proving this to be my original car. Before this I was still somewhat apprehensive or unsure that this truly was the car I had once owned.

I had never done any restoration work so I hired a local restoration shop to perform a complete ground up restoration. It was completed on July 15, 2011 after almost 2 years of work;  the work required far exceeded my expectations and budget!! But from what I have learned, this is quite normal when restoring an old car, especially one that has had some rather serious damage done to it. We have been taking it to several shows this past year as well as some Sunday afternoon cruising which brings back a flood of memories. 

It sure makes an old guy feel young again!!