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Jim Karamanis
Third Time's a Charm
Delmarva Cougar Club President Jim Karamanis, of Lake Ridge, Va., owns the DCC May Car of the Month, a 1970 XR-7 with a 351-2V Cleveland engine and FMX automatic transmission—and only 33,800 original miles on the ticker!
Jim first learned of the Competition Yellow Eliminator clone through a Mustang collector he met at the September 1998 All-Ford Show hosted by the National Capitol Region Mustang Club (the show, in Annandale, Va., also served as the site of the DCC's second meeting).
Jim Karamanis
The collector from whom Jim bought the car had acquired it from its original owner, a "little old lady" in Ashland, Va., Jim says. The lady's son had the motor torn down about five years (and 500 miles) ago to check for wear and replace worn parts. During that work, a Lincoln Mercury dealership found zero percent wear on the cylinder walls.
Jim's new weekend cruiser sports an Eliminator hood scoop and rear wing and Eliminator striping on the sides and wing. Jim says he soon will add an Eliminator front spoiler.
The car's interior is dark green and options include air conditioning, power steering and power disc brakes. The 9-inch rear end houses 3.00 gears. It has Magnum 500 wheels from a '68 Torino and 215-70R14 tires. The wheels were painted along with the rest of the car late last year and finished with a layer of clear coat.
The car came with an early '80s AIWA radio, which Jim is now replacing with a Kenwood Cassette Head Unit that has CD changers controls (for a later CD installation). It also has Alpine 6x9 rear speakers and dual cone, in-dash front speakers from a Mustang specialty shop.
Jim Karamanis
Jim's low-mileage beauty is his third classic Cougar. His previous cats were another '70 XR-7 and a '71 XR-7 convertible, which now belongs to DCC treasurer Art Schuetze. Jim says his decision to buy the Eliminator look-alike reflects lessons learned from owning other cats and he offers words of wisdom to would-be cat purchasers.
"Buy a car in the best condition that you can possibly afford," he says. "It will cost you more up front, but will always save you money in the long run. The cost of purchasing this Cougar and completing the restoration is far less than what it would have cost to restore my previous Cougar. That doesn't even include the purchase price of the previous car."
Since he bought the car in December 1998 after a fresh repaint, Jim has assembled the exterior trim, interior trim and headliner, carpet, all window glass and more. Modifications to the kitty include replacement of the points and condenser with a Pertronix Ignitor electronic ignition and Flame Thrower coil, and an advance curve kit.
Jim says that an error he made during the ignition work turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
"While driving my car recently, I pulled out of my development and got a thumbs up from a cop driving in the opposite direction," he says. "Luckily, I had made a mistake when setting the timing and the car fell flat on its face when I pressed the accelerator. Otherwise, the cop would have pulled me over for the rubber that I was about to burn!"
Jim Karamanis
Jim says he still wants to add an Edelbrock four-barrel aluminum intake, Holley 600 vacuum secondary carb and Dynomax two-chamber dual exhaust. But, he says, for now, he'll follow a simple rule: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Over the past couple of years, Jim has gotten active among Cougar enthusiasts.
"Establishing the CLASSIC-COUGARS listserv with Carl Graziano changed my life forever," he says. "No longer is the Cougar just my favorite muscle car; it's my passion, now. I can't even begin to express how much pleasure I receive from being part of the classic Cougar community. Also, the formation of the Delmarva Cougar Club is the tip of the iceberg. We have a wonderful, enthusiastic group of Cougar enthusiasts whom I'm proud to call my friends. I look forward to the years of progress and fun that lie ahead for the DCC!"
Jim is a Software Engineer working as a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. When he's not tinkering with a Cougar, Jim enjoys playing piano, mountain biking and golfing.
So, has Jim found his dream car? Well, almost. He says his ideal car would be the one he has, but with a five-speed manual tranny.
Jim plans to show off his latest acquisition at the Cougar Club of America's East Nationals in Carlisle, Pa., June 4, 5 and 6. And he says he'll have his other true love with him for the trip: his new wife, Kati, whom he married May 1. Congratulations!