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Carl Graziano
No Strays Here!
Carl Graziano, Vice President of the Delmarva Cougar Club and co-administrator of the CLASSIC-COUGARS list server, describes his 1968 standard hardtop as a number three car in very solid condition.
Powered by a 302-2V engine and C-4 automatic transmission, the car has a 3.00 non-locking rear end. The car was sold through the Washington, D.C. district sales office and came nicely optioned with air conditioning, AM/8-Track stereo, and a decor interior of light blue crinkle vinyl and light blue rhino pattern vinyl.
Carl Graziano
Carl became the owner of his Glacier Blue Cat in April 1994 after he saw it advertised in the Washington Post by a man in Silver Spring, Md. Carl is just the third owner, as the second owner bought the car from its original owner in College Park, Md. Since Carl was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Adelphi, Md., about 15 minutes from his current home in Hyattsville, Md., he and his car haven't strayed from the local area!
With approximately 89,000 on the original engine, Carl's only modifications under the hood have been a new carburetor and a Pertronix Ignitor electronic ignition, dropped inside of the distributor. (He's in the process of rebuilding the original carb.) The car received a new timing chain and valve stem seals, new battery tray and battery and new dash pad. He's also replaced the master cylinder and wheel cylinders. This past spring the body was stripped and painted.
Carl has been loyal to this one cougar over the past six years. "Despite all its other problems since I've had it," Carl explains, "the things that typically break on classic cats have always worked just fine on my car—the flip-up headlights and sequential tails. It's one of the reasons I kept the car when I may have been better off cutting my losses and finding one with a better body or engine. Actually, I can't complain about either too much; the engine's always run reliably and the body really didn't have too much rust, considering this has been a D.C. car all its life."
"There's really nothing the average backyard mechanic can't do on these cars," Carl says. "But you need to take your time, ask questions and use the right tools. The 'ask questions' part is especially important in terms of being part of a local or national Cougar club. The collective experience of fellow Cougar fanatics is an invaluable resource when you need guidance for restoring your car."
Carl Graziano
Carl’s to-do list of upcoming projects includes: rebuilding the front end; replacing the headliner and windshield (cracked by a rock); restoring the non-working A/C; replacing the heater core; replacing the non-stock 42-amp alternator with a 55-amp model; and detailing the engine compartment. Other possibilities include replacing the 2V set-up with a four-barrel carburetor and intake, and adding a dual exhaust system. It also needs a bit of rust repair under the vinyl roof.
Carl uses the car as a weekend cruiser and occasional weekday driver. After the A/C and heater core are repaired and following the front-end rebuild he plans to use it as his daily driver.
"I've found that the more you drive these cars and learn about their mechanics, the more you find to do," Carl says. "You could spend a lifetime tinkering with a classic Cougar and still not be done. But the satisfaction and pride of maintaining a beautiful example of classic Detroit iron is more than worth the effort. And there's no better feeling than the feeling you get when someone sees you driving your cat and flashes you a thumbs-up."
Carl Graziano
Carl is communications manager for the College of American Pathologists, in Washington, D.C. When he's not spending his free time with his wife Sandy, enjoying their new baby daughter Gianna, and her cute 2-year-old sister, Olivia, Carl also enjoys Web authoring, old house restoration, playing the guitar, and antique collecting.
Despite his love for classic Cougars and other things Mercury, Carl also appreciates other makes of cars: he says he's currently in love with the Jaguar S-Type and the PT Cruiser. However, he also doesn't stray to far from home when it comes to his dream car: a CJ428 XR-7 GTE cat!