Legend has it that when Ford execs approached Carroll Shelby about modifying the Mustang for road-racing duty, he responded, “How can you, it’s a secretary’s car?” As the success of the GT350 soon proved, Shelby vastly underestimated the performance potential of the Falcon-based platform, as well as his own race prep know-how. However, his reservations reinforced the perception that there’s just something about early first-gen Mustangs that appeals to the ladies. This might explain why the typical macho muscle-car enthusiast is willing to pay two-to-three times as much money for a fastback model. Some sheet-metal restoration suppliers even sell conversion kits to transform coupes into fastbacks. Fortunately, there’s a far easier solution: Buy a Cougar, the Mustang’s much brawnier-looking cousin. The money saved will go a long way toward building something really cool, like Herb Stuart’s fully modernized, Cobra-powered, fuel-injected, road-course-ready, street bruiser.
Like his father and grandfather before him, Stuart was destined to be a Ford guy. Grandpa had a 1931 Model A coupe. Dad drove a 1969 Mustang GT500. After taking a break away from his hobby to raise a family, Stuart bought his son a 1968 Cougar for $800 as a high school graduation present. The car needed lots of attention, and the father and son team installed a new interior and suspension to get it back on the road. “My son drove it all throughout his college years, and brought it back home after he graduated. One morning the Cougar dropped a valve, so we had to get him another vehicle he could take to grad school,” Stuart recalls.
The Cougar sat neglected for the next several years until Stuart decided to give it a ground-up restoration. Although he had never solid plan. It was intended to be a learning experience to build upon so we could also someday restore the Model A coupe and Shelby Mustang GT500 that are still in the family,” Stuart explains.
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