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Tony Paris
Orange Rush
"Have it your way" might be best remembered as a fast food sales pitch, but it also sums up pretty well DCC member Tony Paris' approach to restoring his '70 XR-7.
The car today looks nothing like it did when Tony, of Woodbridge, Va., found it for sale about two years ago, in the garage of DCC member No. 1, Kermit Burroughs. Its Medium Gold Poly paint has been replaced with Competition Gold—Mercury's version of Ford's "Grabber Orange." Spoilers front and rear, a black hood scoop and Torq Thrust D wheels at all four corners in place of hubcaps give this semi-Eliminator clone an entirely new and aggressive stance.
The low-mileage (56,000) car left the factory nicely equipped with an M-code four-barrel 351 Cleveland engine, FMX transmission and road-worthy 3.00 open gears in the 9-inch rear end. It also came with power windows, AM/FM stereo, air conditioning, power steering, power disc brakes and dual exhausts.
When Tony found the car, its black leather interior was in solid condition and the color gave Tony freedom to choose from a variety of exterior colors as alternatives to the original paint. So, he stripped off the old black vinyl roof, filled the beltline trim holes and made the car his own.
"When I bought my car it was a gold color, in need of body work, with a vinyl top and hubcaps," Tony says. "One day, after removing the vinyl top and hubcaps, I decided to drive the Cougar to my parent's place so my father could see my project. I parked the car on the street and went in to my parent's house. When I came outside, a group of children were riding their bikes by the car, laughing and pointing."
Tony Paris
That incident, in 2001, was all the inspiration Tony needed to give his Cat a complete makeover. Recently he had the car back in front of his parent's place and the reaction from the neighborhood kids was decidedly different. "I noticed a few children pointing," he says, "but there was no laughter this time."
In the course of resto-modding his cat, Tony did a lot of careful prep work. He removed the bumpers, all trim, interior and rear glass for paint. "When I removed the carpet, I found two build sheets and a 1970 newspaper with the full text of one of Nixon's Vietnam speeches. I still have the paper and build sheets," he says.
With the prep work done, Tony brought the car to Maaco, in Springfield, Va., for its new paint. He was pleased with both the price and the results. After he got it back, he added new bumpers, trim, rubber and carpet. He has also added a new distributor, Pertronix Ignitor, advance curve kit and fuel pump.
Tony wanted aggressive wheels and tires to complete the look of his weekend cruiser, so he had the front fenders rolled to accommodate 235-60R15 tires on the Torq Thrust wheels.
This is Tony's second classic Cougar. He previously owned a black '69 convertible, which he sold a couple years ago. He says his current car is a keeper and he wants to do more to it, including adding headers, a new exhaust system, sway bars, traction bars, new shocks, a new fuel system, an electronic flasher so his rear turn signals will sequence and an upgrade for the stock stereo.
"There is always something else I want to do, and never enough time or money to do it," Tony says.