Ian Victim Repairable?

My beautiful '70 red convertible was buried in three feet of Gulf water which then quickly receded. The insurance company deeded it a total loss and made me two offers, one of they took it and another ($9K less) if I kept it. I am not a mechanic or restoration professional. Any thoughts on whether it is worth me keeping and finding someone to try to bring her back to life and glory, or should I just take the money and try and get another (which may take years if ever). I realize the car would have a salvage title.

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First off - so sorry to hear of the loss. I’m sure most people would tell your to find a way to restore it, but I look at it more objectively. I’ve restored and parted many Cougars, and you can’t save them all.

A few questions on your car - was it an XR7, does it have a lot of options, any previous rust? That would determine what it’s worth as a parts car. $9k seems high with the unknowns as to what’s salvageable. Things may look fine now but fail over time from the salt water exposure. $9k is a lot to pay for a parts car, and it’s value will be permanently diminished due to it being salvage. Even though many cars with clear titles have been through worse!

Though heartbreaking I’d do the math and probably let the insurance company take the car unless they really come off the value. Even then I wouldn’t try to restore it or another with the parts. That takes years and a lot of time and money.

Any way you can post photos? Might help people guide you towards what’s reasonable.

How much will they give you if they take the car? Did they give you what it’s worth? These cars do come up for sale and since you owned one you know what to look for.

If you do decide to keep it, please replace all wiring that was exposed to water. Water will wick up any openings (e.g. pins, broken insulation) and travel a fair ways. I won’t refurbish submerged wiring for this reason. With few reproduction wiring parts available, this factor may influence your decision.

Best of luck to you, and I’m sorry for you and your cat.

Salt water is not kind to anything let alone vehicles. On top of that it was flooded salt water so even worse. Not much if anything interior, electrical or engine will be salvageable. It will all need to be torn down, cleaned, replaced or rebuilt from scratch. Your talking alot more money to rebuild vs replace and rebuilding will cost more then the insurance will pay for the total loss Im sure, not to mention the money you will have to pay to keep it in the first place. Pictures of the damage would help judge how bad it is.

I would say if insurance will give you a proper value to replacement its wise to take that and buy another. Im all for saving the car but in this case it might not make much sense for you unless its sentimental and you enjoy the rebuild process bring it back to its former glory.

Unless it was a very rear model keep it and restore, however if it was a more regular version then take the money and run.
If you have ideas of restoring it, then prepare you self for a lot of money to be spent and a lot of head aches in getting it done .
You are unlikely to ever get your money out of it, and most surely regret the time commitment.

Take the money !!!

Thanks, everyone, for your comments and sympathies. It looks like a consensus, and I have come to the same conclusion. It is simply too expensive, time-consuming and risky to try and restore. I’ll be much better off trying to find a replacement. It is heartbreaking in that this cat was practically the same as my first car (red '68 with black hardtop), which I got from my father who had bought it new when I was nine. I went for the '70 as I now live in Florida and figured a convertible would make for an even cooler cat down here. The final cool point about this car is it came with loads of documentation and pics from a long-time previous owner, a deceased Hollywood talent agent who handled Mel Gibson, Richard Gere, and many others. I guess the only “good” news is that the insurance company’s offer is exactly what I paid for it last year. In the pic you can make out the water line above the door handle and along the garage wall.

Let the Cougar registry know the VIN number so they can keep track of what happens with it when all said and done. Sorry to hear about your car, I am sure it is heartbreaking and I am sure you probably had a lot of damage to your house too.

Time is of the essence if you or anyone is going to attempt to save it, salt water will continue to eat until it is disassembled and the salt rinsed/cleaned out. Even then the damage will be extensive. I have seen many flood cars that the damage could have been limited and possibly saved if cleanup started immediately. But realistically, the insurance companies drag their feet and by the time they come around, it way too late. Sad story all around, sorry for your loss…

Let the hunt begin!


1970 Mercury Cougar for Sale | ClassicCars.com | CC-1640325

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There looks to be an awful lot of very valuable parts of that car that are above the flood line. I’d be very tempted to keep it and part it out. I bet there’s at least $9k worth of parts that are completely fine and would help other collectors. That dash pad alone should be saved if nothing else.

I’ve sold Cougar and Mustang parts for 20 years as part of subsidizing restoring my cars. It’s really difficult to get that much out of a parts car. Let alone the time to disassemble, list, box, and ship items. If they’d let you have the car for a few thousand I would say pass it on to someone who wants to part it. But I wouldn’t recommend doing it yourself, and not for $9k either!

Well, I respectfully disagree in this case. Knowing what '70 'vert parts are fetching these days, there is a ton on that car that would be easy money. The bumpers, trunk, hood, dash, top frame, windshield frame and trim just from that picture alone. But I do agree it’s a chore.

A bigger question is how much damage did your home sustain? I’m sure you have alot of work ahead of you.

Thanks. Living area is two feet higher than garage. 4 inches of water inside house … certainly better than 3 feet but still a huge pain!

I’m responding with a “brainstorming” idea as I’ve seen a lot of questions and “it’s a lost cause” type replies. If it were my car, and a very clean, rust free, or otherwise desirable car, I would consider something like the following.

In the salt belt (I live in metro Detroit) cars get exposed to salt and brine regularly during the winter. They don’t develop the “lace around the wheel lips” overnight, it takes a few years. If your car is nearly rust free, your big problems are soft parts, electrical, anything with lubricant, then the body/chassis.

What is salt soluble in? Water. I’m sure there are some chemists in this forum who can weigh in on what may be better than water at dissolving away salt, but water is certainly good and economical.

Softparts - need to be removed, soaked and drained. 3 times. (Generally when rinsing something away, the improvement greatly diminishes after the 3rd time.) Then gently dried to avoid mold, and cracking. Even then they may not be recoverable. It is a crapshoot. Wading pools would probably be useful for this.

Electrical - As Midlife mentioned, the salt will wick into the wiring and eat away at it. The connector bodies should be reusable, but for reliability the terminals and wiring would all need to be replaced. If your wiring is original the harnesses may be useful as models for reproducing harnesses. You may want to consider this as a time to go restomod with aftermarket wiring, instruments, radio, etc.

Anything with lubricant - will need to be rinsed (3 times), disassembled, dried, and assessed to see if the assembly can be relubricated or needs new bearings prior to reassembly.

Body/chassis - with the soft parts, electrical, and power train removed, roll it into a softsided pool. They are available with the inflatable ring in some large sizes. You’ll need to pay attention to properly disposing of whatever oil the flood didn’t already release into the environment. Following the first rinse a good soapy washing may allow you to save your paint job. After the body has been able to dry, every place metal joins metal needs to be soaked with oil.

If it were my car, and I felt it was worth recovering, I would start by putting out ideas like these, then asking forum members for improvements or alternatives.

Or this may be completely impractical given the starting point and all the other things you have to worry about now. Only you can determine that.

I’d be interested in purchasing it from you

Insurance gave me two options. One was the value I insured it for, with them taking the car. The other offer was $9K less with me keeping the car. I took Option 1 and CoParts picked up the car. I figure it will be auctioned off and someone will try and bring it back to life; at least I hope so. There were only six of these, i.e. '70 red convertible with red interior, black top, and power windows.

Yeah that’s 1 hard car to find . Hopefully you’ll find something else nice of same value .