1969 Convertible 408 Stroker in South Australia

Hi All

I finally got my hands on my Mercury a few months ago ----->>>> 69 Convertible Retro-mod in South Australia - Classic Cougar Community Discussion - Classic Cougar Community Forum but the best I have been able to do so far is visit the Neighbours and drive down our country lane…

This isn’t really a build thread… :naughty: the car was built in the late 90’searly noughties… the problem is that it was engineered in Queensland (RHD conversion) and previously registered in VIC under Historic rules. Because I live in South Australia (and every state knows better), none of that means a pinch of snot, and the car needs to be fully engineered, then because it must be engineered, pass a full pit inspection.

In other words it is a “getting her legal” thread, followed by a “tinker and improve” thread. :dance: Comments welcome! To be honest I dont think it will be terribly interesting to the community, but at least I can direct mates to the thread so they see how I go…

The car

The Donk, 408 inches of happy times…

Anyhow, engineer’s inspection requirements…

• cut outs in trans crossmember needs to be capped to restore strength ( FMX cross member notched to allow exhaust clearance)
• negative offset rims may be a problem for Regency
• too low (negative 100mm ground clearance)
• clean oil leaks
• lower steering column needs a clamp
• washer needed on top of the nut of the bumpsteer kit as per pic below

• Bellhousing inspection cover needed

Further things that I need to address are

• Brake booster is not assisting (low manifold pressure/ leak? Stuffed booster?) Super hard pedal.
• Rear drums sticking, squeal in reverse after releasing handbrake (foot-handbrake ).
• It feels like the wheels are castoring, tramming, may just be an alignment issue, my be the offsets (but I like my minilites so may have to put up with that)
• 107 decibels at 3000 rpm, it is generally too loud and needs hushing down to barest legal.
• I am struggling living with the left front fender inner edge being low, I think the first three fender bolts (three washer, two washer, one washer) might help get it close…
• When I add the extra hot dog mufflers (or however I do it, it would be great to even out the rear exhaust and trim the cut outs a bit better (removing the texta)… I would like it permanently quietened.
• The centre rear view mirror is that freckle too high (glued to the windscreen) that It cant view out the back because the top of the mirror hits the windscreen surround.
• The engine was built with Edelbrock RPM Alloy Heads, but all Stainless Steel ARP bolts and hardware, need to replace with High Tensile (Non SS) because the bolts (eg exhaust manifold, rocker cover) keep spinning out.

this is what I mean about exhausts

Anyhow, happy to answer questions & take advice… might be ad-hoc updates the above is to get her on the road safely… then there will be tweak or improve…

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This will be interesting to see. I hope we never see this kind of government hassle in the US. Good luck and hopefully we can contribute something to help you through the process

I had a bit of a scare last week (TBH I nearly shat myself)…

For context, the back story… I am a FIFO worker (i work in a copper mine in the South Australian desert, Fly In Fly Out 4/3 swing), I also live on acreage (which basically means time working on the car is time off the tractor) and three kids… time is the biggest struggle… I have to laugh though, I have to slash 24 acres and when I visit a mate, the bloke will look me in the eye and explain why they did not have time to mow 40 sq m of lawn…

So, to do something, I started going through the fluids (it is late, I am tired, and I am getting up at 3 am to head to the airport next morning.

The radiator was low, although the glycol was prink and bright… I use a premium antifreeze in the Passat, that is pink compatible, sweet… whilst I am at it, I top off the radiator overflow( way down the bottom it was also pink)

Job done, help with kids and go to bed.

Now I also was looking for leaks (there are plenty, sorted out rocker covers, trans fluid cooler etc) and notice there are some worn ball joints (which may be a source of doughy steering) -

By the way, does this look like a standard Ford piece? or is it part of the Alston Chassis Works anti bump steer kit? I thought I would check during my lunch break, so I looked up the Alston Chassis Works Catalogue in case it was sold seperately… Imagine my horror when I saw this in the ACW catalogue… identical inside, billet cap, and I thought $heet, the PS juice is also pink… Fer FFFFFire Truck’s sake…

I spent the next three days convinced I had poured glycol into my power steering reservoir, the last PS flushes I had done were on my RX5 and VK Commodore DECADES ago, but figured it would be the same, so as soon as I landed in Adelaide i went straight to the Airport Bunnings and bough a large tray, hose, bottles, etc… I rushed home… and found the PS pump had the dipstick on top with no reservoir, and the aluminium/billet top thing was indeed the radiator overflow…

Moral of the story… slow down, think, and check, check, check (TAKE 2!).

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After that scare … where I topped off the radiator overflow with a bit of glycol, then (whilst away) convinced myself that it was the PS Overflow… only to return and confirm that it was the radiator overflow after all… I took a deep breath and tackled the electrics…

The internal electrics were all dead, spent half a day finding crappy grounds, sorted everything except a terrible 90’s clarion head unit and the right blinker indicator is dead… save those things for later… I dont think the loom is typical having been converted to RHD… most wiring seems to have faded some sort of green with faded stripes of beige…

I didnt take any fotos of the electrics… but I did when I washed the car later… some cougar prawn… at least for me!

The last one brings up three issues…

No paint on the grill and covers… in time I would like to do this in the eliminator style (possibly eliminator chin spoiler as well)

the driver’s side fender needs a re-alignment ( RHD’s side, this car has been “corrected” :laughing: )

and I do want to go eliminator scoop, but I wont be able to source a scoop, get it fitted and respray the bonnet anytime soon, so hornet scoop it is for now.

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About that hornet scoop, when the car turned up , the scoop was covered in a painted fine mesh. The mesh itself would have been a flow barrier, but the paint made the “holes” virtually non existent… I felt crap this morning (woke up with the "Rona) so I decided to do something simple with low brain effort…

I want uninterrupted air in there… so mesh be gone!

But that shows a yellow primer that looked Yuck! (with a capital Y)… so I fixed it with what I had lying around…

That is better, just need to by a scalpel and sort out some paint edges on the lip.

It is a little thing.

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And my final post for today…. I am open to suggestions!!!

I spose it is the one benefit of isolating with the ‘Rona a bit of free time to look around the forum, as well as post…

Here is an engine sounds post…. I will have to quieten her down as she reads 107db ave 109 db peak and needs to go down to 99db (all at a steady 3000 rpm). This recording sounds a lot quieter than it is.

There is loud chuffing/ticking around the motor because some of the exhaust manifold bolts have spun out ( a PO used SS bolts in an alloy head. I don’t have thin enough spanners to get the L & R nearest to firewall ones back on (I can’t use sockets because the pipes bend over the bolts…)


I don’t know why that didn’t work (noob). https://youtu.be/jx0f67C1Xrs

Any ideas for an economical way of dropping about 9db ( will adding a couple of long hot dogs do it?) , or is it replacement dual 2 1/2” mufflers time?

Finally getting a bit of stuff done, I have an awesome semi-retired mustang specialist nearby that has a hoist and is doing most of the heavy mechanicals…

In summary the car was a great build, but has not been driven much at all… the tyres have near full tread (and are twenty years old!).

The biggest concern I had was the brakes… they were terrible… I basically had to stand on them like you would not believe… I would dis-engage the handbrake (foot) and it still felt like they were on, but there was no assistance and had to stomp hard!..

well it wasnt the rears that held on…

hi tech powdered brake fluid :laughing:

and the other one

the front right caliper was siezed and locked on around 20% and oveheated, leaving the left front as the only working brake! (with no assistance)…

no wonder I was sweating bullets!

Got some other under car shots whilst on the lift… As mentioned elsewhere the car is low and soft. I am guessing for straight line weight transfer… but it makes it terrible on the Adelaide Hills roads… the low is a problem but with the spaghettis thick springs on the front the roll bar would bind and bent the drop links. (this will fail Regency, so will the cable ties :unamused: )

You can see the bent roll bar link on the bottom of this photo, and the thin spring at the top… probably going to get some Aussie King-Springs put in the front to stiffen everything up and put an inch back into the ride height. (currently this will fail Regency)

the rear is on two inch lowering blocks, again this not good for handling and leads to bad wind up. not sure what I am going to do here at this stage as mustang parts are easy, but these are longer springs… maybe re-set with an extra leaf… open to suggestions? (below)

other things that need doing… need to get a centre cross brace fabricated, this will fail Regency.

And I also need to get these Cut Outs capped (both sides) … or it will also fail the pit inspection at Regency…

Looks like someone used DOT 5 silicone brake fluid that was contaminated by water so it caused lots of trouble (corrosion) with the brake system. I would use Dot 3 and never worry about that again. Ditch the lowering blocks and install factory components at the rear. Replace the front springs with new ones, they will be too long so maybe cut off 3/4 coil each. The spring saddles look knackered too. And the center plate is very important in a convertible. You may have to reduce the diameter of the exhaust system to make it all fit.

Thanks Royce.

I will probably go an Aussie (built for 69 mustang) performance spring… the rest of the spindles out is XA Falcon GT + “Hopper Stoppers” brake kit which increases track and changes things compared to US standard issue, but is known here.

The rear end is the issue, I want to take the 2" blocks out, but have a net difference of 1 inch in ride height whilst firmer.

I am assuming the shorter Mustang springs are not going to fit out back don’t know about Falcon ones, not sure if a re-set and a helper spring will do it or if the helper spring with mess with the rate (adding a step change)… This is my first ever leaf spring rear end (all my other live axle cars - RX5 and VK Commodore - were coil sprung).

I will certainly get a plate fabricated, but try to bridge over so I keep the dual 2 1/2" all the way through (with any luck).

I know I have complained about Regency, but so far everything I need to do (to pass) makes the car safer… and the intention is to stick the family in it and drive it… so… safer = gooder…

The Falcon springs may in fact be the proper length, may be worth finding out.

The Cougar originally had rubber insulators and cast iron wedges on the springs so a net 1.25" drop compared to the 2" drop blocks you currently have. If I were you I would order the proper parts from the USA to fix the rear suspension.

Get a comfortable chair in front of your computer,
Dial up the West Coast Classic Cougar,
Spend the next few hours( or days or weeks) trolling thru the catalog,
You will find almost every thing you will need for your project.

Good Hunting….

Yeah… I should, but I really want the car on the road ASAP and current shipping being what it is… I cant wait a month for a set of leafs that may or may not match the front, so I will start with putting in the fronts springs, then a re-set and extra leaf to match the front (and maybe give myself an uppercut later :smiley: ).

This photo was gathered in a week from local retailers … too many $ already :open_mouth:

This is get it done stuff, I have an extensive list of improvements that I can’t justify now that has WCCC all over it!

Ok the rear brakes are complete

The rear cylinders were full of powder, as were all the brake-lines back to the Master…with the master reservoir contaminated… pretty much everything related to brakes was binned… Ironically I had thought the booster was stuffed… in the end everything except the booster was thrown out.

In the rear… example of what came out

Rear brakes back in and hooked up

All the lines had to be replaced because they were full of brake powder


The front end… that is a different matter… This is my headache post.

XA falcon V8 spindles and an old Hopper’s Stoppers kit are what is installed there… Now Hoppers have 4 pots etc, But is this a made 20 year ago solution to economically get max brakes under a 15 inch rim for 30 year old cars (back then - 50 year old cars now).

Now days you can get Willwood solutions for old Aussie Falcs, but you couldn’t back then. My budget doesnt allow me to swap out everything to get a US kit, and I would still want them to fit under 15 inch rims… so I had to go around again… the next set of rotors will probably require a new solution as these new (old parts) stop getting made.

Falcon spindles and Ford pattern hubs.

72, Falcon disks, to fit 14" wheels were 287mm, this kit uses Holden Commodore VT disks (296mm)… These DBA rotors were the nuts 25-30 years ago, but nothing fancy today (I upgraded my old 1986 VK Commodore to these rotors and thought I was quite the rooster… back then!)

So you have to get the Holden blanks and get them drilled to a Ford bolt pattern. My old warped disk in the background.

The calipers however, are Falcon AU (1998-2000) v8 jobs, twin pot sliders…

So in summary, this car has 69 American suspension arms and an American Alston Chassisworks anti bump steer kit, on an 71 XA Falcon steering box, pitman arm, spindles and hubs, 1998 VT Holden Commodore sized DBA Brake rotors, 1998 AU Ford Falcon sized PBR Brakes…

Also, a new master to suit

Check the specs for ZA Fairlane rear springs. I have a reset set in my 69 vert. The lowered front springs that everyone sells for Mustang / Falcon can give a harsh ride if you go to 17" wheels and gas shocks. Konis give the best ride.

Thanks Leon!

Shocks are something I will worry about once the car is running, the aim is to avoid gas shocks (using the knowledge from this forum and others). I will certainly take the Koni’s advice aboard (don’t want to reinvent everything), currently on 20 year old Monroe’s, not many miles on these but I expect these will be too soft for where I am going with spring rate. Thanks for the ZA tip, figured the Fairlane or LTD “might” work coz they also seem looooong… if I cant re-set my own, I will investigate.

And I intend to stick with 15’s and put BFG RTA’s on which fits the the vibe of the car… My end of the Adelaide Hills is all rural roads with tight switchbacks and rolling undulations… I am hoping the sharp edged pot holes, fractured bitumen and washboard stuff will be taken car of by the baggy tyres. Driving (on Permit) to and from the engineers was out of control soft and floaty… I don’t want the missus feeling seasick on the way back from the hundreds of wineries around here that we are going to have to inspect in this car… :sunglasses:

I was intending to change over the scoop over to Eliminator or Boss 429 like your car… but as time passes the Hornet scoop offends me less, it kinda goes with the build vibe, the 15’s, the old skool, the Edelbrock everywhere, the big old Holley, the lopey, the interior…

Springs have arrived

close up of the front Roll Bar drop link… Riding so low and soft the bar ends are wrapped right over as they arc, this bent the links

I kept touching down on the collectors which knocked a leak into one pipe, as the collector faces forward I don’t want to catch and peel them apart.

No rear Bar installed… Is that OK?

Oh and one last thing… @ Leon…You have exquisite taste in wheels!

Sometimes I wish I hadn’t sold them. I used them while the 17" were away getting rebuilt (3 piece Alan jones Racing wheels)

This is what it normally looks like

Thanks Leon… My leafs are too pitted… so I may have to go down the ZA Fairlane route… how much modification did you have to do? or just a straight re-set? did you go a stock or a Heavy Duty? it is also a much bigger car so rate from a stock spring may be to my liking.

I am also now investigating what a bespoke, built to requirements, set will cost…

The Minilites in your photo look bigger than mine, I remember your response to my intro post, you alluded to possibly knowing their providence… are they actually 15’s? Your current wheels do suit your car…

I had the springs built by Fulcrum suspension, I’m not sure of the actual specs. My superlites were 15 x 8