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All Claws on This Fast Cat
Doug Wilby remembers—maybe not so fondly—the first time he ran his 625-horsepower, 1969 XR-7 at the Old Dominion Dragstrip, in Manassas, Va.
"When I launched from the starting line, my dash flew off and hit me in the face," Wilby says. "The interior man only had two screws holding it in place. I was racing a '69 SS Camaro. I still beat him!"
Maybe not the best start, but a strong finish and one of many more to come for Wilby's beastly cat, powered by a 408-cubic-inch, stroked 351 Windsor and Performance Automatic C-4 racing transmission.
The long list of performance modifications to this beautiful, gold-trimmed, black-on-black cat is impressive: a complete tear-down and rebuild of the drive train, including the fuel system; nitrous; mini-tubbed rear; a narrowed, 9-inch, 4.33 rear end; 3-inch custom dual exhaust; frame connectors; roll cage; four-link rear suspension; lowered 1.5 inches; and Eliminator wing and chin spoiler. Inside, Wilby didn't skimp on creature comforts, with a custom leather interior and sound system.
Wilby, a commercial project manager who lives in Sterling, Va., has owned this fast cat for 15 years, since finding it in Fort Washington, Md. The car has 72,000 original miles and only one previous owner, says Wilby, an Enfield, Conn., native.
While all the hi-po bells and whistles might be the car's distinguishing features, what stands out for Wilby is how unusual Cougars seem to be to others. "When I go to nostalgic drags, I'm usually the only Cougar," he says. "It gets lots of attention—especially when the car pulls a wheelie and runs 10.80s. It's nice to have a unique car that gets noticed."
With major work done on his Cougar, Wilby has a maintenance item or two on his to-do list. "Restoring my window regulators," he says, and adds with a laugh: "Glue came loose on all the windows for some reason."