Cool Cats

This year’s Yellow Rose Classic Car Show, opening on July 8 at the Arlington Convention Center, will feature 50 years of the Mercury Cougar.

Grand Prairie’s Gene and Pam Mullenberg will be right in the middle of the two-day event bringing along their 1967 Dan Gurney Special that Motor Trend Magazine honored with its prestigious Car of the Year award. This is the car that Mercury introduced that year that shares much of its underpinnings with the Ford Mustang. What’s even more special about this particular Cougar is that it has been in the Mullenberg family since it was purchased by Gene’s sister the year it was introduced. She used it as her everyday driver for the next 11 years – and then she upgraded to a new 1978 Cougar.

The ’67 then remained parked on the family farm until 1992 when she decided to have it restored.  After years of participating in shows in Minnesota, Iowa and Texas, it eventually became part of Gene’s collection in 2013. This pristine beauty is equipped with factory air conditioning, power steering, disc brakes, a radio, full console and comfort weave flo-thru seating.

Its Dan Gurney moniker derives from a deal that Lincoln-Mercury made with the famous captain of the Cougar racing team.

The package came with a sticker on the passenger-side window, turbine wheel covers and a chrome engine dress-up kit for the air cleaner lid, valve covers, oil dipstick, and radiator cap in the presence of a 289-cubic inch V-8 engine.

Other of the classic’s features include concealed headlamps that open cat-like at night, sequential rear turn signals, foam padded front bucket seats, a simulated wood-grain steering wheel, pleated vinyl upholstery, and wall-to-wall carpeting.

But, as you can see from the photo spread on these pages, the ’67 is just one of the Mullenberg’s collection.

Along side of the 50-year old model is a younger sibling – a blue 1972 convertible XR-7 receiving a bit of sparkle on the front of the hood from its owner.

The front end features four exposed headlights, the center grille piece is larger, and the rear features a semi fastback with a “flying buttress” sail panel. The following year would mark the end of Cougar convertibles.

Gene and his blue and white one were featured on the cover of the Legendary Cougar Magazine in February of 2015, along with their story.

He found what he wanted in 1974 when the car’s owner, stationed in Germany, told his brother to sell it.

“It was neglected, the top had two small holes in the c-pillar part of the roof, the front door panels had cracked, and the ash tray in the console was overflowing with cigarette butts that were falling down between the seats and console.”

All of that, and much more, had to be corrected and restored. Taking a look at Gene’s garage/museum with a trove of trophies that is located behind his and Pam’s beautiful home, you can imagine he was up to the task. In fact, working on his cars is a cherished past time for the couple.

In 2005, Gene embarked upon a major upgrade of the car’s appearance. After completely disassembling the car, including removing all chrome, trim, doors, trunk lid, hood, fenders, grill, taillights and virtually the entire interior, the work was well underway.

With the help of fellow Lone Star Cougar Club member Ken McDowell, who agreed to do the body work, all the pieces were brought together. Gene had the driver’s seat repaired, brought in new carpet, and made arrangements to have a new convertible top installed.

“The convertible that I bought to have some fun with all those many years ago just celebrated its 42nd anniversary with Pam and me,” he says. “We drove it hard over a span of 10 years, pulling a ski boat on weekends and touring around for fun for the most part. It’s been one heck of a ride with a wagon load of memories.”

The couple would welcome the opportunity to share those memories with visitors to this year’s Yellow Rose event.

There you will also get to see these two and their other three Cougars, as well – a 1970 coupe along with their 1969 and 1973 convertibles.

It’s a show not to be missed that includes an opportunity to learn everything there is to know about Cougar automobiles from one of the country’s top experts.