John Machaqueiro
February 4, 2014

With the suspension and chassis work complete, they installed the engine. Distributing the 600-plus horses required something equally stout, so C.J. settled on a Tremec T-56 Magnum six-speed manual gearbox, with a dual-disc clutch.

Precision Chassis also handled the fabrication of the custom exhaust. The headers were constructed with 2-inch stainless steel primaries and 3-inch stainless steel collectors. The remainder of the exhaust system was all 3-inch stainless steel with an X-crossover, two Pypes 3-inch electric cutouts, two Spin-tech Super Pro Street 9000 mufflers, and custom polished stainless steel tips.

"A fiberglass Boss 429 hoodscoop was also purchased since the air filter housing did not fit under the original hood," C.J. points out. "Once mocked up, we realized it still did not fit, so it was quartered and raised 1 inch to allow the 4-inch air filter to fit."

The final exterior touch was the wheels, tires, and brakes. He explains, "I searched for months for the right wheels for the car and finally decided on a set of custom two-piece Raceline Burst 5 wheels that were black with a polished face finish." Behind the BFGoodrich g-Force KDWII-wrapped wheels you'll find stout Wilwood Superlite binders.

The second-to-last item to be finished on the car was the dashboard.

"It was something that I wanted to look as close to factory as possible," he explains. "I looked at several different electronic gauge companies, only to find most of the diameters were the wrong sizes. I finally found a company called Speedhut that made electronic gauges that were similar in size." With some careful surgery, he was able to make it all fit while maintaining the factory look.

The last and final item on the car was to install new custom electric headlight and sequential taillight controllers. The original headlight covers were operated off the vacuum from the engine, however, that was not an option with the new powerplant.

"I called my best friend, Mike Stahl, who happens to be an electrical engineer and electronics specialist to help me with the design and construction of the controller. We looked at all the systems currently on the market and they use a solenoid-style actuator and controller. These all seemed to be very fast and made a lot of noise, so we purchased a digital controller, and a set of linear actuators, and proceeded to modify the circuitry to allow it to control it the way we wanted." The modified circuitry allows C.J. to control the open position, closed position, speed of the covers, and when the lights are turned on. The system faithfully mimics the original pneumatic system.

At the back, the original rear sequential taillight controller was replaced with a new 2012 Mustang electronic controller with a delay relay, which made the taillights work the same as the original.

C.J. points out that, "Since the start of this project at the end of 2011, my main objective was to have the car ready for the 2013 Ford Nationals in Carlisle. It started on June 7 and the car was finished on June 6, just in time. Needless to say, once on the show field, he immediately started getting comments on the car from the other Ford and especially Cougar owners. He proudly boasts that, "I was really happy to hear the comments since I built the car to what I thought looked good. The car drew a lot of attention during the show from people wanting to know what I had done to the car. It also drew crowds every time I started the engine and opened the electric cutouts." That interest in the car bagged him a First Place at Carlisle. Not too shabby for a car with paint that is 20-plus years old.

The Details

C.J. Sabol's '68 Mercury Cougar

Cast-iron Dart Iron Eagle 351 Sportsman block, 438 ci built by C&S Engine Designs (Cheltenham, PA)
4.125-inch bore
3.100-inch stroke
Probe lightweight I-beam connecting rods
Probe lightweight forged 4340 forged steel crankshaft micro polished
Airflow Research 225 aluminum cylinder heads, 2.080-inch intake valves, 1.600-inch exhaust valves, triple valvesprings, ceramic-coated combustion chambers and valve faces, valve stems dry-film lubricated, valvesprings de-burred and dry film lubricated by Calico Coatings (Denver, NC)
Competition Cams billet roller camshaft
Probe 2618-T61 forged aluminum pistons, tops ceramic coated by Calico Coatings (Denver, NC)
11:1 compression ratio
Edelbrock Victor Jr aluminum intake manifold, ported and flow matched by ExtrudeHone (Paramount, CA)
Quick Fuel Technology Q-950-AN 950-cfm carburetor tuned by Second Street Speed, Inc. (Perkasie, PA)
Meziere Enterprises 55 GPM billet aluminum electric water pump
Be Cool triple pass 1,200 HP radiator
Fuel Safe 16-gallon fuel cell
Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump|
MSD Digital 6 plus ignition, billet Ford distributor, Blaster HVC II coil, DynaForce mini starter
Precision Chassis (Pottstown, PA) custom headers, 2-inch primaries, 3-inch collectors
3-inch stainless steel x-pipe
Spin-Tech Super Pro Street 9000 mufflers
Pypes 3-inch electric cutouts
Tremec T-56 Magnum six-speed
Tremec Shifter
Ram Automotive 9000 custom dual-disc clutch
Ram Automotive 157T billet aluminum internally balanced flywheel
McLeod hydraulic linkage
Total Control Products FAB9 rear housing shortened 7 inches
Strange Engineering Truetrac differential
Strange Engineering 35-spline axles
3.89 gears
Relocated lower arm bracket to interior of framerails
Front: Total Control Products front coilover suspension, VariShock Double adjustable shocks with 500-pound springs, Total Control Products upper control arms with a 1-inch drop shaft, Total Control products lower control arms, large bearing front spindles, Total Control Products 1.125-inch antiroll bar, Total Control Products big-block Ford manual rack-and-pinion steering
Rear: Total Control Products G-Link canted four-bar suspension; Axle brackets, pivot ball upper and lower links, VariShock double adjustable shocks with 200-pound springs, 0.75-inch splined-end tubular antiroll bar
Front: Wilwood disc, Superlite 6R six-piston calipers, 12.88-inch cross-drilled and slotted rotors
Rear: Wilwood disc, Superlite 4R four-piston calipers, 12.90-inch cross-drilled and slotted rotors
Wilwood manual aluminum tandem master cylinder
Front: Raceline Wheels, Burst 5, 18x8, polished finish with black inserts, 4.5-inch offset
Rear: Raceline Wheels, Burst 5, 18x12, polished finish with black inserts, 7-inch offset
Front: BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDWII, P245/35ZR18
Rear: BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDWII, P335/30ZR18
Restored interior upholstery finished in black leather; Precision Chassis six-point rollcage; Total Control Products swing-out door connectors; Speedhut gauges; G-Force five-point harnesses up front; Scott Drake rear lap belts
Cardinal Red lacquer paint applied by Bob Bondelo; Mustang 429 hoodscoop modified by Paint by Weaver; electronically controlled front headlight doors and rear sequential taillights