Love at first sight is a funny thing. It’s almost like you just know when something is meant to be, yet you can’t necessarily explain why. Now, as much as we like to tell our wives that they were our first love, chances are that a car guy might have experienced love long before marriage. Maybe it was while reading about a car that was about to be released that had just the right body lines, horsepower, and stance. Or maybe you’re like Steve Cater, a long time car nut who happened to be in the right place at the right time, and found the car of his dreams.
It was 1985 – Steve and his father where at Carlisle, a popular car show in Pennsylvania, NY, when they came across a gorgeous Mercury Cougar Eliminator. The car was a fresh restoration that had been converted into a drag car and was in perfect condition. Immediately, Steve and his father were in awe of the car’s beautifully sculpted body lines, angry all-business stance, and of course that big block nestled in its engine bay. At the time, Steve’s dad was a bit leery of the fact that the car had been converted to drag duty and decided to pass, but Steve never forgot about that car.
Two years later, completely by chance or perhaps by fate, Steve stumbled upon the very same Eliminator in a Hemmings ad. He recognized the car right away. This time, they were not going to make the same mistake as before. They quickly made a deal with the owner and picked up the car.
Fast forward to 1990, after some time of enjoying the car, Steve’s dad had decided that he was going to sell it. At that time, Steve owned an XR7 428 Cougar convertible and decided to sell that car and buy the Eliminator before his dad sold it to someone else. He finally owned his dream machine.
Since then, Steve says the car has been pretty much rock solid. The only modifications that had been made were for performance reasons. He estimates that he has made hundreds of passes with the Cougar and enjoys bringing it to shows when he can.
Upon firing up the big block Ford, it feels as though the earth is rumbling below you as the beast snarls to life with a deep growl that settles to a very mean, lopey idle. This isn’t a car for the faint of heart; that’s for sure. Even Steve admits that it’s a bit over-the-top for street duty.
When asked what his future plans are with the car, he said he would like to tone it down a little bit to make it a bit more street friendly. He also plans on making more passes and attending more shows. One thing is for sure, you can really tell that Steve still loves this car and that there are many more years of driving enjoyment to be had with this all-American muscle machine.
Story By Justin Palmer
Photos By Chris Penree