Super Nice Cougar Engine Destroyed Advice and Opinions Needed

I have a well equipped 69 Cougar XR7 factory 428 that I’m not sure what to do with. The engine is not numbers matching, but is was correct and well dated. The body, paint and interior are now near perfect. I had it in the paint and body shop for some final detailing when the engine gave up the ghost.

The engine has been pulled and I’m not sure it’s salvageable and also not sure that I want to put any more money into the car.

I’m not sure what to do and would like some advice and opinions to help me decide.

Should I fix it or try and sell it as it is? What would it be worth in it’s current state?

The car is/was turn-key and ran well with everything working till I took it to the body shop for final detailing. It’s laser straight with gorgeous paint and interior. Now just needs an engine.

Not enough info here to say. Not sure what gave up the ghost means- If the block or head cracked for some reason replacing them will add some cost, but you can rebuild an engine for less than $5k. Which is probably at least how much value the car will take a hit on without an engine.
If you give some more details we might be able to narrow our guidance.

Give up the ghost is when a body loses it’s soul. Engine blown, destroyed, damaged. Doesn’t run or have a life any more. What other details do you need?

It’s obviously worth a lot more with the engine rebuilt… cost of rebuild really depends on what type of engine damage. Kind of suspicious that it blew up at the body shop. Tough to ship a non runner with engine in pieces which makes it harder to sell. Would be a great opportunity for the right person though…

I understand your position but not your tone. “What other details do you need?”

Did the engine start knocking? Did it pour oil on the ground? Did it overheat? Does the engine have compression?

Answers to the questions posted can help determine the opinions you seek on what to do with the car. I would also recommend posting pictures and a list of options on your Cougar (Marti report) would help.

Good luck with whatever you decide.


I drove it to the shop no issues. It was there for two days.
I was told that it was pulled out and allowed to idle and get up to full temperature then they heard a boom, and there was a hole in the oil pan and oil on the ground.

They said it probably shot a rod.

The engine was pulled and I looked it over last week. The back two cylinders are destroyed. The front 3 on each side look good. The rods are all still in tact but one is bent badly.

The piston bottoms are gone on the back two. Rings in the oil pan and parts of pistons. Pan is bent inside. Broken piece of the cam as well and a pushrod is bent 30 or so degrees.

The bottom of one cylinder wall is broken slightly with a half crescent moon shape about 1/2 inch wide or so from a rod hitting it and the other one is scarred from the wrist pin on the twisted rod.

Not an expert here. How does a CJ throw a rod while idling? That shop’s story sounds fishy. I have the valet scene from Ferris Bueller playing in my head.

Man that sucks but I’d bet serious money that level of damage didn’t happen at idle. Someone in that shop had it out for a joy ride, I guarantee.

I tend to agree. Drop a valve at idle will cause damage. But that sounds like damage from a failure at mid to high RPM.



I agree with what others have said. I’d go talk to the manager and tell him there is no way this damage happened at idle.

Its not rocket science to work out that much damage is not from idle.
I once dropped a valve at idle, it gave a lurch and stopped, i replaced the valve and away it went.
This is horrendous damage that can only happen at hi revs .
Dont think that would be worth a try to repair if the block is damaged.

Have to agree that sure looks like a lot of damage to happen “at idle”. No way to prove what happened but unless when you went to pick up the car it was parked over a pool of oil, sure sounds like someone was clueless on the redline of a 428. Sad. Might be worth checking the local police to see if there were any disabled vehicle reports. Given the rarity of the car… worth a shot. I’d say call around the local tow operators as well but betting they have their own or someone that would tow on the downlow. And and record of mileage when you dropped off the car? Even an additional 10 miles would be hard for them to explain away.

Pictures and how original it is would help for a guess anyway as to value. But I assume by “engine correct” you mean that it came from the factory with a 428cid Cobra Jet or Super Cobra Jet? If so blown motor or not is a valuable cat. Loss would have been much greater if the original numbers motor was lost but really loss is cost of a short block and rebuild. And if a CJ or SCJ in nice conditional very doubtful you loose $$ replacing the engine.

But so much depends on condition. Might be worth the $200 or so to get a professional in person appraisal. They could give you a good idea of the value as is and value with a new motor. As it sounds like in the end you want to sell it so really a math problem if you know that the cost of a new motor.

Good luck…

The detail shop is lying big time! to get out of paying for your engine. That motor was way over rev passed it’s red line and they blew it up. Get it to a engine rebuilder so you have a professional opinion how the engine blew up and then lawyer up and go after the detail shop. They pulled the wrist pin out of the piston and bent the rod. Classic high load over rev condition. They had to have been abusing the sh*#@t out of it to blow it up like that.
ABSOLUTLY no way did that happen at idle… Pull the cyl heads off and show me the pictures of the cyl heads top and bottom. Also pictures of the top of the pistons. I can most likely give you the step by step what happened.

My 30 year career is with engine R&D and I blow them up on a dyno all the time operating at above normal conditions. I know what an over rev high load destruction looks like. See attach pictures…look familiar :wink:
Different engine different materials, but same result…

I tend to agree with everyone else giving opinions. Some one there had to have revved the car way to high to blow apart like that.
IDK where you will end up going with this, but a possible heads up…KTL restorations had a 428 short block on the facebook page for 2300.00. The ad is from about 3 weeks ago, so if it is still there or not? It was a date code of 12-1-65. Not sure if that helps?
I’d personally like to see pics of your car if you get a chance :slight_smile:

Ok, the good news, you can re-use the top end, Heads, manifolds, carb dizzy, possibly the crank. depending on how good you are with a wrench, you could get out fairly inexpensively. But yeah, that was done at high RPM. I’ve blown motors racing that didn’t look that bad.

I agree with the guys here on that failure happening only under high revolutions and absolutely not at idle! Do some digging on that shop you used. I bet money they took it out for a spin and killed it. Look at your rear tires? check for rubber in the fender wells, torn up tread etc. Check your odometer. Maybe get a friend to go in the shop and inquire with the techs about it on the down low? I would go after them hard. Get a lawyer if you need too.

Hopefully you did not let that shop tear down the engine?

I have seen this happen before, working in the industry for many years I have seen all kinds of crazy things that happen to vehicles in the shop. Most recently I had my wifes care in for warranty work and someone used it to haul parts around in the front seat. I made them replace the damaged door panel and B pillar panels. If my car goes in somewhere out of my control(which is rare) I stick a GPS unit in it to make sure its not being used in a manner it shouldn’t be. Obviously this is a litter harder on older cars but there are battery powered GPS trackers you can get cheap too. Or be creative in using a throttle stop to limit to only idle etc.

It did appear to happen where it was sitting. From what I could see I think it destroyed at least one of the heads too.

Did the shop have security cameras?Or maybe a nearby business have one?Might help in determining if the car got taken out or was towed back in.