Jerry Laski’s first new car was a 1971 Ford Torino GT, but after it was totaled in November 1983 he began looking for a suitable replacement.
After months of searching, Laski saw a newspaper ad offering a 1973 Mercury for sale. “I drove to Great Falls, Va., to inspect the Cougar,” Laski says. He was smitten by the Gold Glamour paint on the stylish convertible with a white leather interior.
Documents that came with the Cougar indicate the 1973 convertible was ordered by the original owner with options including a 351 Cobra Jet engine, a C6 automatic transmission, Traction-lok differential, power steering, power seat, air conditioner, AM/FM radio, body side molding, intermittent windshield wipers, appearance protection group, color keyed racing mirrors, tinted glass and power side windows. The options and assorted dealer add-ons pushed the purchase price to $4,421.73.
Laski purchased the 10-year-old car August 27, 1983. At that time the odometer had recorded 62,875 miles. According to Laski, the serial numbers indicate his was the last Cougar manufactured with the much-coveted Cobra Jet V-8 engine.
The Cleveland Cobra Jet engine impressed Laski. “I was quite familiar with this fine motor as my Torino also had a Cleveland engine,” Laski says. “I pulled the Torino motor after the accident with the Torino as the engine was good. I still have this engine.”
Five years later, with 70,000 miles on the original engine, Laski reports that some of the nylon teeth on the camshaft timing gear broke and prevented the engine from starting. “I could have replaced the defective cam gear,” Laski explains, “but instead I decided to have the motor rebuilt.”
Once the engine and transmission were removed and sent off for rebuilding, Laski decided it was the perfect opportunity to clean, paint and detail the engine compartment.
Over the last 25 years Laski has consistently worked to keep his car in like-new condition. “I have rebuilt the 9-inch Ford Traction-lok differential, the front and rear suspension, drive shaft, brakes and even replaced the fuel tank.
The original air conditioner compressor and air conditioning hoses remain in place. “It still works,” Laski says. He plans to rebuild the entire system and convert it to the environmentally friendly 134A Freon system.
Laski replaced the Ginger-colored carpeting in the cockpit in 1990. That carpeting provides a contrasting background to the white leather seats. Stamped in the back of each seat is a Cougar emblem. The same Cougar emblem is also on the hub of the three-spoke steering wheel. The wheel is equipped with a rim blow feature enabling the driver to sound the horn by simply squeezing any part of the rim of the three-spoke steering wheel.
Above the chrome bumper at the rear of the Cougar, flanking the license plate and backup lights, are the taillights that continue on to the outer edges of the fenders. Of course, the taillights have the popular Mercury Cougar sequential feature when the turn signals are activated.
At the other end of the car are the quad headlights, which are the round, sealed beam units. Below the headlights is the chrome bumper that is protected by a horizontal rubber strip in addition to a pair of vertical bumper guards, also with protective rubber strips.
Laski is always ready to slip into the drivers seat and set the B.F. Goodrich tires rolling for some highway therapy. The automatic transmission is controlled by the lever in the console on the floor. That console also houses the clock.
The miles recorded on the odometer are now approaching 89,000. Despite the pristine appearance of the Mercury, Laski says, “My Cougar is not strictly a show car as it has accumulated some small rock chips from driving the vehicle on the roads over the past 26 years.”
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Copyright, Motor Matters, 2009