Mellow Yellow 69 Convertible Frame Restoration

Six months ago I acquired my father’s 1969 Cougar Convertible from my cousin. I’ve written about the experience to date in the “Classic Cougar Experience” but now it’s time to get down to brass tacks about the details of the project. And ask for advice and encouragement!

I would like to drive the car casually on weekends, not race it. It’s got the base engine and the kind of body work that looks wonderful from 20 ft. but it’s not a show car.

The interior is in wonderful condition as is the convertible top.

The engine and transmission run well.
Trunk is fine. (Hallelujah!)

I made some modest upgrades from WCCC: export brace bolted in; shock tower reinforcement plates welded in.

But then there is the unibody. Not so good. I can’t even tell how bad the suspension is because the frame is in such bad shape.

Here are some pics, if you can stand to look at them. The first several show the driver side rockers, then a couple show the passenger side rocker and floor pan. Miraculously the outer rockers are intact.

And then for the passenger side, which is much better, by comparison:

The pic above is the back of the passenger side rocker.

The pic above is the floor pan behind the passenger’s seat.

I have spoken to several welders who work with classic cars and settled on someone nearby who is well recommended, competitively priced, and available. I’ve seen his car, which is an amalgam of various cars and impressive indeed. He is not familiar with Cougars, but has worked on Mustangs and many unibody cars.

The floorpan and rockers are the first project, with other components such as torque boxes as needed.

The first couple of days he will put it on a scaffolding take off the doors and possibly weld temporary metal along the sides. The frame is too floppy so he’ll be propping it up on some hefty axle stands instead of his rotisserie. After wirebrushing the floorpan, we’ll decide whether any of it can stay and then begin replacing the inner rockers. The engine and dashboard will stay in the car (yes I know it’s not ideal).

A few questions:

  • He mentioned that he might not need to do spot welding to put it back together. Are there places where it’s essential?
  • Are there good sources for Cougar parts such as the inner rockers, or do we make do with Mustang ones and improvise? CJ Pony seems to be the only place that stocks these Mustang parts such as the Dynacorn.
  • Can someone help me track down an exploded diagram of these pieces? The Ford shop manual and the Chassis assembly manual don’t have them. Perhaps the Body manual does? What are the pieces I might not think of (“Torque box gussets” etc.)
  • I have been referred to the Diary ECI saga, which I am plowing through. Any other good references would be appreciated.

Talk with
John at John’s Classis Cougars
or West Coast Classic Cougars
They will have the parts & know all about your Cougar and can answer your questions.
Mustang people might know what you need.

OK so work has begun!

Replacing inner rockers and floor pans on drive and passenger side, repairing the drivers side torque box, drivers side frame horn, repairing drivers and passenger rear wheel houses at rockers connection and fixing grill bracket lower mounting hole at bottom of radiator support

After wirebrushing here’s how it looked:

Car is on sturdy stands, leveled, square up, interior and dash removed, metal braces welded in temporarily across doors and across body.

With the outer rocker removed, here’s what it looks like in the front and back of the driver side. Ouch! I was driving on that.

At least the back seat area looks ok.

While the welder is doing this work, I did manage to add value: the dashpad was so sticky with resin I had to wrap it in plastic to take it home to work on. An afternoon with soap and water then PlastX (vinyl cleaner and conditioner) and its no longer sticky. The ‘after’ portion of the photo makes the vinyl looker lighter than before, but I don’t think it is. I believe that’s just the different lighting later in the day.

I used the PlastX on the instrument cluster lenses to modest effect. I realize WCCC has new lenses but I think I may make do since mine are in decent condition as is.

I wonder if there’s anything I should be doing while the Dash and console are out???

I’m replacing the shifter gasket and maybe bushings. I have a new radio already.

Nice work, you’re not wasting any time that’s for sure.

When replacing those floor pans, reuse those seat risers. Do not buy the reproduction ones, they are for Mustang’s and are taller than Cougar floor pans. Cougar bucket seats actually have thicker padding in them than a comparable Mustang seat.

Thanks! And yes we are reusing the risers despite the effort of cutting them out.

Out with the old:

I’ve got one acronym for you: ECI!!! Congrats! The crown has been passed… :wink:

Thanks for this dubious honor: Call me ECI Jr! I’ll drink to that. :beerchug:

What is stranger than finding a manual window crank under the carpet in a Cougar with power windows? Answer: finding a second one!