Wayne Cook
June 1, 2008
Photos By: Michael Johnson

Dennis Citrano of Glen Burnie, Maryland, owns this '69 Mercury Cougar. He bought the car in 1992 for $1,500 and, after 16 years of ownership, it's no surprise he has the Cat sorted out to his liking. But the green machine wasn't always as sweet as the great-looking car you see here, and over the years the Cougar has endured some battle damage in the form of fender benders and grenaded engines. When a bad rear-quarter crunch job sidelined the car, Dennis decided to get serious. He wanted the Mercury to look and run at a much higher level, so he planned a complete restoration and a drivetrain upgrade.

The refurbishment of this car would be much more difficult than usual because of the large amount of collision damage. Dennis knew that a lot of sheetmetal parts that are impossible to find new would be needed, so he located another '69 Cougar parts car and purchased the entire back half. The donor car supplied the replacement rear quarter-panels needed for the project.

An auto-body technician by trade, Dennis did all of the bodywork himself. His grand plan for the car included running a hot 351 Cleveland engine, which would provide much more power than the original equipment 351 Windsor. With big numbers coming from underhood, putting the power to the pavement was a major consideration. To aid in traction, a set of slicks were in the plan, and the rear wheelhouses from the donor vehicle were added to construct mini tubs for the rear axle on the project. While all of the heavy body and repair work was being done, subframe connectors and an eight-point rollcage were added. With the extra power on board, the subframe connectors increase chassis rigidity while the 'cage meets NHRA requirements.

Dennis' car is a work in progress, and he tells us he's always adding to it. He says tubular control arms and Wilwood front disc brakes could be in his future plans. One thing we know for certain is that his car went 12.50 in the quarter-mile on the motor alone. Now with an intercooled ProCharger supercharger installed as well as a Nitrous Express Ntercooler system, we have no idea how fast this car will go, and Dennis isn't saying. After all, with all of those great racing days ahead of him, why let the cat out of the bag?

The Details
'69 Mercury Cougar
Owner: Dennis Citrano, Glen Burnie, MD

Engine
351 Cleveland 4V (357ci)4.030-inch bore3.50-inch stroke
Forged-steel crank
Ford connecting rods
Ross pistons8.0:1 compression ratio
Isky Racing cam 0.645/0.665 lift, duration at 0.50 264/272, 108 lobe center O-ringed Ford 4V cast-iron cylinder heads 2.10-inch intake valves, 1.72-inch exhaust valves
Ports matched and polished with radiused and blended exhaust bowls
Harland Sharp 1.73:1 roller-rocker arms
Edelbrock Performer 351C aluminum intake manifold
Holley 1,000-cfm blow-through-style carburetor
Mallory Unilight distributor
MSD 6AL ignition
ATI ProCharger D1R supercharger rated for 15 psi boost
ATI ProCharger Intercooler
Nitrous Express Ntercooler nitrous-oxide system

Transmission
C4 three-speed automatic
Transmission built by Kenny Anderson
ATI Treemaster 3,500-rpm stall-speed torque converter
B&M Pro Stick shifter

Rearend
9-inch axlehousing narrowed 3/4 inch overall
Strange Engineering spool
Richmond 3.55 gears 31-spline axles

Exhaust
Hooker Super Competition headers 1 7/8-inch primary diameter with 3-inch collectors Three-inch stainless steel exhaust system Flowmaster mufflers

Suspension
Front: Rebuilt stock suspension, Competition Engineering 90/10 drag shocks
Rear: Alden Eagle six-way adjustable coilover shocks, Art Morrison ladder bars with track locator Manual steering

Brakes
Front: Factory disc brakes
Rear: Wilwood Street/Strip disc brakes with 11 3/4-inch rotors

Wheels
Front: Weld Draglite aluminum, 15x5
Rear: Weld Draglite aluminum, 15x10

Tires
Front: Hoosier radial, P205/65R15
Rear: Hoosier Quick Time Pro slicks, 28x141/2x15

Interior
Installed by Weiland's Upholstery of Glen Burnie, Maryland; original bucket seats recovered in black leather and tweed; Auto Custom Carpets black carpet kit; custom-made billet leather-wrapped steering wheel; Auto Meter Sport Comp tachometer with shift light; Auto Meter gauges for water, oil, fuel pressure, and boost level; oil-pressure warning light; stock speedometer, stock fuel gauge, Pioneer AM/FM/CD with Orion amplifier, 6x9 package tray speakers, 4-inch door speakers

Exterior
Sikkens Oak Green paint ('76 Porsche color), bodywork by owner, paint by Tim Scott of Baltimore, Maryland

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