When admiring a restored XR7-G–or for that matter, any classic restoration–we are enjoying the results of many hours and many dollars spent in pursuit of a restoration goal. However, not all XR7-G owners share the same view of what a “restoration” should be.
As we discussed in the Restoring an XR7-G section of this web site, there are various levels of restoration. Some owners believe the car should be a perfect replication of the way their G was when it rolled off the assembly line. At the other end of the spectrum, some owners prefer to express their individuality by adding some custom touches to their cars.
On this page we will discuss and illustrate examples of what I consider to be the three most typical types of restorations: concours restorations, concours driven restorations and restomods.
The concours restoration is the most difficult to achieve. At a typical Cougar Club of America (CCOA) national meet you might see one or two such cars. If you restore an XR7-G to this level the only competition likely will be with your checkbook.
A concours restoration requires a lot of research to be correct and to achieve authenticity in every detail. Parts for a restoration of this caliber are difficult to find as the cars have passed the 30 year mark. The parts search might consume years because you will, in many cases, have to build personal relationships with the parts owners before they will entrust to you the care of a part they have owned for decades.
The concours restoration is most typified by the level of detail in the undercarriage and suspension. New old stock (NOS) shock absorbers, universal joints and mufflers are pretty much required to compete at this level. Once the car is completed you must transport it everywhere in an enclosed trailer, lest it get rock chips or dirt on an irreplaceable part. Just letting the engine get warm can destroy detail under the hood, so these cars are often pushed on and off the trailer.
Concours Driven Restorations
More common are the concours driven type restored cars. Most of the cars you see winning the classes at a CCOA meet are of this caliber. Reproduction parts are used in the suspension components. Vinyl might be substituted for leather in the interior. The car looks perfect inside and out, but has grease fittings on the universal joints and suspension so the car can be enjoyed and driven.
Paint can be clear coated for better durability. The exhaust system might be a stainless steel reproduction set to minimize maintenance. Many owners will add desirable options to this type of car, like a rear window defogger or an AM/FM stereo for driver comfort and enjoyment. One thing to consider is that you have to redo this type of restoration every few years to get rid of the rock chips and to fix the burned off paint in the engine compartment.
The Restomod is defined by its owner. It might simply be a color combination not offered originally. Maybe the car came with a 302 2V and a 351 Windsor seems to the owner like a better choice. Cruising from Los Angeles to Atlanta would be easier with a six speed transmission and 15 X 8 wheels with V-rated tires, right?
You get to be the designer and engineer with a restomod. When it is finished, the car will display your personality. Sometimes these cars are made to drive, other times they are so outrageous that they are for display only.
Be sure to consider what major modifications will do to the car’s value. Modifying a 428 CJ XR7-G might significantly hurt its value. On the other hand, modifying a lime green metallic 302 2V XR7-G by painting it black, installing original Shelby Cougar speed parts and installing a four speed might be just the ticket.
Photos by Mike Willett, Charlie Jourdain, Gary Weisenberger, and Steve Eitzen