Ultimate Mystery Cat GT E
The original version of this article appeared in the April, 1997 edition of the Cascade Cougar Club newsletter, The Prowler. While it is not TCP's policy to reprint articles from other current publications, Jim felt the content was of sufficient value to warrant its use here. We agree. --SE
During the restoration of Cougar 1, John Benoit and I ordered many NOS parts from a variety of sources, including Rich Ladd down in Saugus, California. Going over Rich's list, John and I noted a "GT-E fender emblem" and, since each of us owned a GT-E, we decided we couldn't live without a reserve emblem.
Imagine John's surprise, and then mine, when a package from Rich arrived with NOS parts for Cougar 1 and a fender emblem with the casting number on the back that read, "C9WB-16722-A RH" (a 1969 part number!) with a small "CDC" enclosed in a emerald cut geometric beneath it. Note the 6.5 Litre decal, indicating that the power for the special Cougar would be the 390-4V (what came to be the undesignated GT engine for 1969).
The mysterious GT-E fender emblem that raised the question, "Was L-M planning to produce a 1969 GT-E?"
Seeing this emblem reminded me of a telephone discussion I had had with Tom Cherry in Soquel, California concerning G-cars and GT-Es, during which he informed me that he "had a '69 GT-E fender emblem." Further, he had said there were pictures of the car in several magazines, the names of such he could not recall at the time (and of course his copies were filed away "somewhere").
Naturally, I called Tom, left a message on his answering machine about the emblem, and I heard back from him within the hour. Turned out that his emblem was what I call a "casting blank." Instead of having outlines for the letters on the front to take paint and a similar outline for the decal, Tom's emblem was a uniform flat, blank surface.
Well, of course, I sent Tom a picture of my emblem, with not just a little gloat hidden in the cover letter. Anytime I can get one-up on Tom Cherry about anything to do with Cougars, I jump on it! Tom was very curious about my emblem and managed to dredge up the citation for one of the magazines with a picture of this "mystery Cougar." I located a copy of the magazine and marveled at the picture of the car; alas and alack, there was NO reference in writing as to the emblem or any other reference to GT-E.
A 1969 GT-E? This photo appeared in the September, 1968 edition of Car Craft. Note the hood scoop, rocker molding, hood pins, and mysterious GT-E badge behind the front wheel well.
You will note that the pictured car has the emblems on the fenders. Also it has hood pins, sports special rocker moldings, and a chrome insert in the hood scoop. To my knowledge, no such '69 Cougars have been found. How can I explain the emblems? Pre-production or prototype cars.
I put the emblem in the display case in my shop, where it became an object of much discussion and more than a little thought. We couldn't help wondering, how close did L-M come to actually producing a 1969 version of the GT-E?
Fast forward to April 1, 1999. Now I know what you are saying to yourself . . . "April Fools Day," right? That's exactly what I thought when I received an e-mail from my good friends Phil Parcells and Tucker Callan at the Columbus, Ohio Swap Meet. Phil had taken his computer so he could communicate with many of his friends regarding parts they were seeking. When his e-mail hit my PC, it said something like, "If I had a pair of fender emblems with the casting numbers C9WB-16721-A AND 22-A, would you know what they are for? And at $150.00 for the pair do you want them?"
I guess I'm skeptical, maybe even cynical, so I fired back a scalding e-mail that called those two lovable guys every name in the book. I took them to task for such a weak attempt at humor, gags, grins, etc. at my expense on April Fools Day. Lo and behold, they spoke not with forked tongues.
To make an otherwise long story somewhat shorter, they finally convinced me they were telling the truth and I asked them to go back the next morning and buy them for me. These emblems came without the decals attached and, since Elaine liked how they looked when I held them up against the fenders of her '69 triple black convertible (originally a 390-4V S-code, but now a 428CJ), guess where they are installed.
Oh yes, and the references for pictures of the ultimate mystery Cougar? See Car Craft, September, 1968 and Motor Trend, October 1968.
Further evidence that L-M had a '69 GT-E up their sleeve is found in this illustration from the Ford Master Parts Catalog. Note part #16702 in the lower right area of the diagram . . . the mysterious GT-E badge!
I have heard from the vendor in Columbus, who sold the emblems to Phil for me, that someone came by his stall the day before and mentioned he had a set of emblems "just like these." So, in addition to Tom Cherry's casting blank, my single emblem with the 6.5 Litre decal still attached and the two emblems on Elaine's car (that came without the decals but with evidence that they had at one time been attached), there may well be another set of emblems out there somewhere.
Oh, and why do the emblems have different numbers, with RH and LH indicating right and left hand sides? Beats the heck out of me, since you read from left to right no matter what side of the car you are on. Unlike the '68 GT-E emblems with a running cat perched on top, that needs to face forward, therefore justifying the difference, there appears to be no reason for these designations for a '69 Cougar GT-E.