Homologating The TransAm
For those who are unfamiliar with international road racing and may not recognize the word, homologation is the process by which an automobile manufacturer receives approval to enter a specific model in a particular racing class. In 1967, when Lincoln-Mercury Division decided to field a team of Cougars in the Sports Car Club of America's TransAm series (known as the Group II series prior to 1967), the Cougar had to be homologated.
TransAm Team Cougar #98, most often driven by Ed Leslie, had to be approved through the homologation process before it could compete in the SCCA's TransAm race series.
In most forms of international road racing, the organization with the authority to approve cars for competition is the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, or FIA. So, when they set out to homologate the Cougar, L-M had to deal with the Automobile Competition Committee for the United States, FIA, Inc., the U.S. arm of the FIA, located in New York.
Homologation is a fairly complex process that, in 1966, began with the filing of the FIA's Form of Recognition. This form could end up being more than 20 pages in length (the Cougar's was 16 pages) and covers a surprising number of details about the car, from the type of window raising mechanism it employed to number and diameter of intake and exhaust valves in the engine.
The Cougar's FIA Form of Recognition contains 16 pages (plus cover sheet) of details about the TransAm Cats.
As if providing detailed descriptions of all the car's parts wasn't enough, there was an additional requirement specified by the FIA for most "production" car racing, like the SCCA's GroupII/TransAm series. The requirement was that a certain number of cars matching the specifications set down in the Form of Recognition had to be manufactured. In other words, to qualify as a production car, the manufacturer had to actually produce a reasonable number of the cars.
While it may seem like a lot of bother, homologation was a necessary evil if a manufacturer wanted to sell more cars on Monday by doing well at the races on Sunday. In fact, homologation was so important, that one American automobile manufacturer named a car model in honor of the process, although they may not have realized it at the time. The manufacturer was Pontiac and the model was the GTO, a name they borrowed from Ferrari. When originally used on the Ferrari, GTO stood for Gran Torisimo Omologato, which roughly translated, refers to a grand touring car that has been homologated, or approved, for international competition.
The point of telling you all this is that, thanks to Jim Pinkerton, TCCN recently came into possession of a copy of the Cougar's FIA Form of Recognition filed by the Lincoln-Mercury Division of the Ford Motor Company with the Automotive Competition Committee for the United States, FIA sometime between October 27 and December 31, 1966. While the Form of Recognition is much too large to reproduce here in its entirety, we thought you might be interested in seeing some of the features that turned a production Cougar into one of the hottest road racing sedans on the TransAm circuit in 1967.
Since our copy was made from an original 1966 vintage file photocopy, the quality leaves a lot to be desired. While the text is mostly readable, even enhancement doesn't do much for the photos. In spite of the fuzzy photos, the Cougar's Form of Recognition is an interesting document.
This is the first page of information provided by L-M for the Cougar. The specified engine is the 289 and the body type is a standard hardtop. Note that manufacture of the model described in this form began on September 6, 1966, and that a minimum production of 4,172 cars had been achieved by October 27, 1966.
Also, it's interesting that the entry for Serial # Chassis looks a lot like a Cougar VIN. Of course, it isn't a VIN because there are some digits missing and production series number 500001 would have to be Cougar #1, which was built with a 390 engine and was not a race car.
Pages two and three of the Form of Recognition contain detail photos of parts and installations as specified by the FIA. Even thought the quality is too poor to clearly see the photos, we included this page because of the exhaust manifold photo in the lower right corner. They don't appear to be stock production 289 manifolds, but there is no entry for optional headers on the optional equipment section of the form, beginning on page 13.
Pages five through 12 of the Form of Recognition contain a wide range of specifications, with a few interesting variations on the stock numbers. For example, notice the fuel tank capacity on page five. The cars described in the Form seem to have picked up an extra 20 gallons of fuel capacity over the stock production cars' 17 gallon tank. At the same time, the TransAm Cougar seems to have lost 370 pounds of its original 3,119 pounds of curb weight.
Other differences noted on the following pages include the deletion of a heater, but the inclusion of a ventilation system. Total brake area per wheel on the front disc brake equipped race cars was 17 square inches.
In the engine section we note that the oil capacity of the race cars' 289 engine was 8.5 quarts and the cooling capacity was 18 quarts. The battery location is given as "rear of vehicle" and the differential is described as "locking" with a ratio of 3.70:1.
Halfway down page 13 we come to the, "Optional equipment affecting preceding information." The first item listed is 2 x 4V intake manifold, complete with L-M part number.
On page 14 we find a list of ten optional rear axle gears, ranging from 2.75:1 to 4.71:1. This left car builder Bud Moore plenty of options for matching rear axles to track conditions.
On page 15, the last page of options, we come to optional wheels, ranging from 5.5" x 14" to 8.0" x 15". If those wheels sound pretty hefty, take a look at the next page.
This is Appendix One, which contains a variant form, specifying a variance from some specification previously listed in the Form of Recognition. In this case it happens to be a set of 9" x 15" wheels. Those wheels held a lot of rubber for a 1967 road racing car!
Now, before we consign this interesting document to the TCP Archives, let's go back to page one for a moment and take another look at the number of Cougars Lincoln-Mercury Division claims to have built to the specifications described in this Form of Recognition. In 1967 FIA rules for SCCA Group II (TransAm) race cars said 1,000 cars had to be produced to meet the homologation requirement. L-M claims to have built 4,172 qualifying cars. However, before you run out and start looking for '67 standard Cougars with factory twin 4V manifolds and 8.5 quart oil capacities, you should know that L-M fudged the numbers . . . by about 4,166 or so.
The cockpit of Ed Leslie's #98 Cougar. Calling it a "production" car depends on whose definition of "production" you use. Note, however, that the stock door panels, along with many other original interior components were still on the car.
The way it really happened, as explained to me by Team Cougar driver, Ed Leslie, five or six stock plain Jane standards were pulled off the assembly line and shipped to Bud Moore's shop down in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Then the cars were rebuilt from the ground up, receiving the "factory" equipment described in the Form of Recognition.
IMAGES & TEXT COURTESY OF FORD MOTOR COMPANY VIA JIM PINKERTON & MOTOR TREND MAGAZINE