Project Panther

First off let me introduce myself. My name is Bill and I am a Cougaholic… I’ve been loitering around on the other forum and figured I would come on over and annoy y’all as well. :poke:

So without any more delays lets bring on the ladies!!! Oh yeah, wrong Cougar sight… :eek2:

This old beasty started out as a father and sons project, but my eldest boy soon wanted something that he could “run into a light pole and just get parts from the junkyard” and " something that wouldn’t get him tickets all the time" So I bought him a 2003 Crown Vic P71 Police Interceptor, black and white with chrome caps, the real deal…and a set of mirrored shades :gaptooth:

If you had the stones to climb into a car with him you’d understand… driving is not his strong suit.

So onto the Panther… I know, cheesey, but that’s how I roll.

The 67 standard you see before you came completely loaded with rust, mold, pitted chrome, lacquered gas, seized-ish motor, no tranny, split tires and patina’d paint… not the cool patina, the “kill it with fire” patina.

At first it was a “lets get it running and driving” undertaking, but once we saw the extent of the work and money that the car needed I decided to move things in a different direction…

Cowls were rotted out, floors were dust, literally. The engine wasn’t seized, but it needed a ton of work. We stripped the car down to a shell and prepped it for some serious surgery.

During the “lets get it running” stage we overhauled the motor, located and installed a C4, went through and freshened up the front and rear suspension and started working on piecing it back together… I won’t bore y’all with that part of the story, it was a dark time in my life and I’d like to forget it ever happened, SNIFFLE… :wtf:

The new and improved plan was to build a Retro styled pro touring-ish street beast that will do as well on a road course as it will on the track. It must be completely street legal, have cool amenities and gizmos, it has to have the ability to drive across country at a moments notice. I wanted to use as many OEM components as possible so that we could easily source them at any auto parts establishment. It needs to be quick but not to the point where it is dangerous or constantly breaking things. And most importantly it has to be safe, well as safe as a 40 year old chunk of Detroit steel can be.

Oh yeah, the coolness factor. it needed to make Mustangs wet themselves with envy. I’m talkin bad ass, the type of bad ass that makes Elanore quiver in her high heels. Fat tires, perfect stance, butt clenching exhaust note, and black, lots of black… Hey, I’m a child of the 80s I literally can hear AC/DC in my head while I’m typing this… :ylsuper:

Welcome to the madness! You’ll fit right in here, but I hope you have a big budget. What you are talking about is going to cost some dough.
If you have more time than money, and the desire/ability to do most of the work then you will be much better off financially. It will just take a lot longer though.
Keep us posted on the progress!

Thanks Daryl! The Panther is actually alot further along than what I have posted so far. I’ll keep updating this thread with all the mods we have done up to this point. I would have added more earlier but lunch hour is only a couple hours long…

We replaced the floor pans with Mustang units and cut open the cowl to see how bad it was. Only some minor rust out that we were able to repair without too much issue. Welded the cowl back together and moved on to the body. The entire interior was coated with rust preventer and painted with encapsulator. Ran some sound deadener on the floor boards and started sorting what was still useable from the original interior… not much.

Once we had the bodies shell back together and all the rust removed and repaired it was time to come up with a game plan and parts list of what we wanted, what we needed and what I could afford

We wanted fuel injection and an easily upgraded engine that has much OEM and aftermarket support. I love the modulars but did not want to remove the shock towers and completely redesign the suspension. Again, I wanted OEM parts availability.

b]Auto or stick… Auto or stick… [/b]So nothing screams muscle car like a 5-speed and you really don’t see too many manual cats roaming around. I personally love rippin through the gears and my boy is very proficient with a stick so I figured what the hell. We had bought my middle son a 5.0 Mustang convertible that he quickly outgrew. Fox mustangs are a dime a dozen and really don’t fetch a decent price when reselling them in the Oregon winter so we yanked the engine and tranny out and prepped it for its new home in the Panther. We upgraded the engine to 93 Cobra specs adding higher flow injectors, Cobra ECU, 70mm MAF and throttle body, full length ceramic coated Hedman Elite series headers. etc. I went through the T5 and added a stronger cluster support, steel bearing retainer, Steeda Tri-axe shifter, Hurst vintage style shift handle and some other goodies. Eventually I’ll build a stroker, but until then, I can upgrade the heck out of this little 5.0.

The old 8 inch was tired and the gearing was all wrong for my intent. We wanted a stronger rear end with Posi and rear disks.
After weighing all the options I settled on an 8.8 Ford Explorer rear end with 3.73:1 gears, Trac-loc and integral drum disk brakes. The only issue is that it has an 3" offset carrier. That’s no hill for a climber, especially one with a plasma cutter and more time than brains… We scored the rear end from the local pick-n-pull for ~ 125.00 and swapped out the long side shaft with a short shaft before we hit the register.

I have seen and heard of way too many classics going up in smoke due to hacked up 40 year old harness’ The old wiring was gently laid to rest in an unmarked cardboard box and a new Rebel harness was procured. Solid state sequencers from Mustang Project as well as Probe/Miata electric motors for the headlight doors. I figured once the EFI and all the other afore mentioned gizmos were wired in, the original harness would be pretty badly butchered.

Obviuosly the original braking system was axed and I decided to retro fit 13" 2013 Mustang disks up front to compliment the 12" rears. The manual M/C was replaced by an '04 unit mounted to a Fox body booster. A muscle car has to have a line lock for those nasty burn outs and I threw in an adjustable prop valve to balance the system.

More to come later, its quittin’ time.

Sounds like quite the project you have planned. What’s your time frame for your build? Last but not least welcome to the Classic Cougar Community.

Time frame? umm when the money runs out LOL! As we are building almost everything in house it helps to cut down costs. My kids work fro free and this is my only vice. We have a saying here: Built NOT Bought…

The recent wonderful Oregon arctic blast we have had lately has hampered any outdoor activities. Car is being built in a carport, thats right a carport. Its great during the warm months, but bites the big one during the winter. I have a shop, but it isn’t large enough to fit the car in, so most of the winter is spent designing, prototyping and assembling smaller stuff.

So where was I? Oh yes, the overall plan…

Subframe connectors with built in seat and harness anchoring points as well as a drive shaft loop are also planned. Custom LCAs with a spheriacal joint and screw in ball joints, adjustable strut rods and relocated roller perches, A 1" sway bar and cut coils will round out the front end. Stock springs with Caltracs on the rear should help plant the tires. If I need to I’ll have some custom springs made for the rear. new shocks and bushings all the way around.

Did somebody mention tires? I’ll be running 17x8 wheels with 235/45/17 tires up front and 18x9.5 rear wheels skinned with 275/40/18 rubber. If I can get 285s in there I will once the current tires meet their smokey demise. My rim of choice is the Boss 338 in
black of course. 4.5 BS on the front and 5.5 BS on the rear.

There are a ton of little things that need to be done, fuel system, sumped tank, interior, glass, body work and paint. etc.

I’m a huge fan of Magnaflow so obviously their polished 2.5 true-X system was my first choice with some really gnarly in yer face tips. Everything is being built and sized for the future engine upgrades and possible stroker.

As I really wanted this to be a build thread I guess I’ll start with the oldest pics and work my way to the most recent. If anybody has any questions or suggestions feel free to chime in, this is my first full on resto of a Cougar, but definately not my first rodeo.

First thing we did was to pull the 289 I was using for EFI mock-up and get the new 5.0 and T5 situated. I used a custom tubular crossmember rather than build one as the price was right and the product is bullet proof. a standard T5 mount is used. The 67 only motor mounts were toast, so I will be fabbing up some new adjustable units here in the near future. We went through the low mile 5.0 and did the basic re-ring, re-bearing, re-seal. It ran like a top in the 'vert, but while it was out I figured what the hell.

Welcome aboard! Project looks fun!

The next thing on the agenda was shoe horning in the headers and modding the reducers for the HEGOs. and some plumbing was needed for the Ram Air up front. I am not a fan of cutting into virgin sheet metal, but this was a necessity to keep the engine bay un cluttered and the air charge cold.

welcome to the other side! and admitting you have a problem is always the 1st step! usually cured with cool parts and money!

Lunch hour, time for more build pics…

As I stated earlier, the 8" was in need of replacement and 9" housing are getting pricey. I did some research on the 8.8 and was sold. We yanked one from a 96 Exploder 4x4 along with an extra short side axle. We shortened the 8.8’s long tube 3" to center up the carrier and to give me a bit more room for a deeper dished rear wheel. We rebuilt the Trac-Loc with all new clutches and shims. We cut off the Explorer bracketry and spring perches and trimmed the mounts off the carrier. New 8" long 1/4" thick perches were then tacked to the housing in preperation of mock up for pinion angle. All new bearings, seals and a crush sleeve eliminator were installed. We went with a MAC girdle cover to add some support to the caps… plus it looks killer! The brakes were replaced, and calipers rebuilt. The brake lines were a simple adapter away from fitting like they were meant to be there.

Some more 8.8 pics…

The work looks great on the 8.8. I had a 1986 Mustang SVO that had the 8.8 and I used 410 gears instead of the 373’s. The gears really woke that turbo/car up.

Thanks, I cant take all the credit, my son Hunter provides alot of the labor.

Really like that differential, great option for a 9". Perfect tooth pattern by the way.

Please be cautious with the jackstands and wheel dollies when under the car, you have no restraints in other directions. Maybe get some rear wheels on as soon as possible. An unintended “bump” could delay your restoration. Safety First!


Thanks Hobbes! I see your point on the dollies and stands. I’ll make sure we don’t do that again. These pics are months old. She is currently resting on all fours for the winter.

Thanks again

Just read about your project, and looking for an update. My 69 just sold recently with a HO 5.0 also. Mine still had an FMX trans, but the 5 speed or AOD would have been great for my car. Keep up the good work!

OK, so I’ve kinda neglected this thread as I keep getting kicked off after composing a long narrative. Its a bit frustrating. I’ll try IE instead of mozilla and see if I can stay logged in long enough for an update.

To bring this up to date I’ll list off as many of the mods as I can remember. If anybody has any questions on any of the mods or topics, I’ll answer them as best I can.

First up was the 5.0 HO engine and T5 swap, bolt in was pretty straight forward with purpose built or bought mounts. I had to modify my 67 only frame stands to accept the 68 up mounts, the tranny crossmember was purchased.

The GT40/Explorer intake and TB swap was painless enough, I did need a 3/8 BBK spacer to keep the intake from hitting my FRPP “FORD RACING” valve covers and the throttle cable from hitting the heater tubes. The Explorer to 5.0 TB swap is well documented on Google.

Modding the Auto console to look and act like a 4-spd console was an adventure, but it came out looking pretty sweet. I cut the top plates to match the 4-spd then used a brushed aluminum overlay to finish it out. A vintage styled HURST shifter handle is mated to a Steeda tri-Axe shifter topped off by a classic white shift knob.

Fabbed up a Ram-Air setup that pulls cold air from under the car at the valance. I hate the look of the typical CAI cluttering up the engine bay.

Just installed the stainless -6an fuel lines from the engine to the hardlines last weekend.

Fabbed up some weld in sub-frame connectors using 2" 1/8 wall square tubing. I used the Daze cars plans and they fit pretty good. The aluminum 3/8 hard lines for the fuel system are clamped to the tranny side of them from Walbro 255 lph pump to engine.

Installed a 130 amp 4G alternator that required some subtle bracket trimming, I’m also running an SN95 starter with integral solenoid so i dont have the relay and associated wiring in the engine compartment.

Bought some GT40P heads but there was no way they would work with my Hedders… Saving up for some aluminum AFRs or equivalent.

The front suspension and brakes are almost complete. I retrofitted 2013 Mustang GT calipers on the drum spindles using 13" ZR1 C4 Corvette rotors and some modified Mustang Steve bracketry. The 17x8 Boss 338 rims were the fly in the ointment on this one as they would not clear the 13.2 'stang rotors or the calipers without major work.

Fabbed up new plated adjustable LCAs with spherical bearings and screw in lower ball joints. Tubular Heimed adjustable strut rods were also built to eliminate bind in the front suspension. I will be building roller perches here very soon.

Ther rear suspension will be comprised of 2.5" drop composite mono-leaf springs with fabbed Cal-tracs and heavy duty shackles. All riding on poly bushings. They are currently leaning against my basement wall until I figure out a Panhard or track bar setup that will clear my exhaust.

Exploder 8.8 narrowed and rebuilt with all the goodies… Trac-Loc, 3.73s, 31 spline axles and rear disks. Topped off with a girdle cover.

The factory tank has been sumped and tigged together with dual -6 AN fittings and a drain. I’ll be using the factory sending unit with the feed line plugged. If I need more fuel down the road, I can convert both -6 AN lines to pressure and return through the sending unit.

Misc. mods…done or in the planning stages:

Taurus fan with Volvo controller and Porsche switch - Done
T-bird aluminum cross flow radiator - Done
Battery relocated to trunk - Almost done
Seats relocated back 3" and tied into frame - planning
Ikea mood lighting - planning
Shelby style roll bar - planning
3 point harnesses - planning
Shaved dash with aftermarket stepper gauges - almost done
New harness to encompass all the electrical mods - planning
Electric Probe/Miata headlight actuators - Done
Hidden LED side markers - Done
Fox hood scoop - Done
Eliminator spoiler - Done
Chin spoiler - planning
Customized rear valance for “over the top” huge exhaust tips - done
Solid state sequencers - done
Magnaflow stainless 2.5" exhaust - almost done
Hurst line lock and adjustable rear proportioning valve - almost done
Adjustable panhard bar - planning

I think thats most of it… :bloated: