Restoring a 1972 Cougar Convertible

Greg Zyla
Q: Hello Greg. I read your columns all of the time, so I want to take advantage of you welcoming reader questions. I purchased a brand new 1972 Cougar convertible in 1971 and for the last 15 years, the car has been in Rancho Mirage, California, near Palm Springs. The Cougar has always been garaged and just turned over 100,000 miles. It also has the renowned Cleveland 351 engine and runs great.

My Cougar was re-painted its original green color some 25 years ago. It has a dark green interior and today it needs repainting again.  I'm considering spending some $10,000 or more to bring it up to show-car status. I know spending that type of money will not result in an equal increase in value as I believe the Cougar today would sell for $10,000 to $12,000.

However, I am not interested in selling it.

My six teenage grandsons all inquire as to my intentions, but I have informed them that at 83 years of age, I am in good health and active professionally. Thus, I intend to enjoy it for many more years of driving.

I have considered having the Cougar painted a shiny black with a white interior.  My family thinks it should be repainted the original color, and whatever the decision is, I need to find a reliable shop with collector car experience in the Rancho Mirage-Palm Springs or even Los Angeles area.

Do you have any recommendations of a custom hot rod shop in the area, and any thoughts on changing the color and upholstery of my 1972 Cougar convertbible? Thank you, a Cougar owner from the great Northwest.

A: First and foremost --- thanks for reading my column. Your 1972 Cougar is an interesting muscle car, and few of the convertibles built from that era have survived the test of time.

Since you clearly state you want to enjoy your Cougar many more years, I wouldn't give a "hoot" as to the original green color if you have your heart set on black with a white interior.

Personally, black and white sounds way more attractive than the green combo, and the 351 Cleveland makes it even more interesting. In my opinion, I would go with the new black and white color scheme. Later, whoever the lucky grandson is---he can go with a "numbers matching original" is so inclined.  I’d also go with a nice gold pinstripe along the side, too, to set off the black and white.

Second, there are many good custom body shops in the Los Angeles to Palm Springs area.  Troy Ladd, owner and operator of Hollywood Hot Rods and Classic Cars, located at 40 East Palm Avenue in Burbank, is one of them.  Hollywood Hot Rods is a full service build-up and restoration shop and voted "Builder of the Year in 2010. Troy will lead you in the right direction as he knows all the painters out your way and I told him you'd call at 818-842-6900 (  I'm sure he can help with your project.

Thanks much, enjoy your Cougar, and please send us a photo when finished.
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