Scott J 1970 Mercury Cougar Eliminator 2dr Hardtop Coupe

The lesser known Rent-A-Racer

As a kid I fell in love with the Cougar, the sequential tail lights were the coolest thing ever for this 6 year old kid. I was always interested in old cars and in 1988 a coworker was looking to raise some money for a down payment on a house and decided to part a few cars he owned. He happened to have 2 1970 Mercury Cougar Eliminators and knew I liked Cougars. Both cars were in rough shape, yellow, 351C 4V, FMX automatic cars, but one was a little different than the other. One had an electric sunroof which meant it was one of the 102 1970 Eliminators made with a sunroof. Of those 102 made, 2 went to Ford executives and the other 100 went to Hertz Rental Car as part of the Hertz Rent-A-Racer program made famous by the Shelby GT-350H. Luckily my friend gave me first dibs on which Eliminator I wanted and I naturally chose the rarer sunroof car. The car was going to require a full restoration and I was young and felt I'd get to it some day soon. Fourteen years later I was working in my garage looking at the Eliminator under the pile of boxes and miscellaneous junk that had accumulated over the years and told my wife it was time to either restore it or sell it. To my surprise she said "restore it, we'll figure out how to pay for it." After picking my jaw up off the floor, I got on line and started looking for a local place to have restored. I had hoped to restore it myself, but my welding abilities didn't rise to the level that was going to be required to bring this car back to its glory days, plus with kids soccer games, cub scouts, and the myriad of other family responsibilities it'd take me another 14 years to it done. I talked to friends who had classic cars and went to their resto guys and decided on one in a town near home. This guy had a collision shop and liked to have a restoration project going for when business was slow and his guys needed some work to do. Unfortunately for me their business really picked up soon after I brought them the car and it sat for 6 months without being touched. In the mean time I had the engine rebuilt and my wife had taken the transmission to a shop and had it rebuilt as a Christmas gift to kick the whole restoration off, what a gal. The shop owner and I finally talked and agreed to send the car to another shop that specialized in Ford restoration, primarily in Shelby Mustangs. That was the right decision and the car was completed 4 years later and I was able to pay for the restoration in cash. Since 2006 I've been enjoying the car every chance I get, taking the kids to soccer and lacrosse practices to car shows and cruise-ins on Saturday nights. It's been cool being a rare car owner and the sunroof a surprise to everyone that it's factory. Although there are several Cougar Eliminators in Central Florida, mine is the only sunroof car, and I believe it's the only sunroof car east of the Mississippi River. it's also cool to talk and park with the GT-350H guys and field their questions about it being a Rent-A-Racer just like theirs. It would have been fun to have rented this car in Miami back in the day and now be the owner of it, but I'm just happy to drive it today.

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