WORK IN PROCESS....My Mercury Marauder - Why and How - The StoryFirst a little history: My dad had raced 4-banger Fords at local short tracks and I grew up with a love of fast cars and Fords. My teenage years were the late 50�s when hot cars were the �thing�, and drag racing was coming into it�s own. My 50�s were flat head Fords with homemade custom and speed modifications. The 60�s brought the muscle cars and I bought a used 1963 Impala SS 409, and I was hooked on muscle. Later came a 69 Dodge Charger R/T 440, a Chrysler 300 and a Ford Torino GT. I loved it!!!!The 70�s brought marriage and in-laws in the automobile business. It also signified the end of the muscle car era. So I ended up buying a variety of Mopar�s from my in-laws, a Ram pickup, a Plymouth Trailduster SUV, a Plymouth Sport Fury, etc. The 80�s came and I needed something fun to drive. There were no muscle cars available so I ended up with a Datsun/Nissan 280ZX that I bought from my brother-in-law�s Datsun dealership. It was a fun car, BUT not a muscle car..... The late 80�s came and so did a family. No room in a 280Z for a family. So the from this point on, through the 90�s, it was SUV�s and pickups.Then this last year I had the opportunity to get reacquainted with Roger Papp, an old friend and coworker that I had not seen in 15 years. We hit it off immediately and were best of friends all over again. He tells me he has been restoring old cars for the last 15 years. There were pictures of cars, and more cars, that he restored and trophies they had won. The cars were great and I wondered why I didn�t do what he did for these last 15 years. Then I realized, he was living my life. After months of trying to convince me that I should get an old car, and that he would help me restore it, I broke down and told my wife what I was going to do. I don�t remember the entire conversation but it included the words �crazy� and �OK�.So off I went, with Roger my consultant leading me. Searching the Internet, going to car shows and looking at newspaper ads. This went on for months and I was pretty hesitant and indecisive. My consultant Roger finally said, �you have to decide what you want in a car, and then we need to go look for that car�. I said I want a muscle car but I can�t afford what I want. He said OK. How much to you want to spend? What type of car, what features, etc.Well, he had me backed in a corner. So I came up with my parameters:1. It had to be different. No 1955 �57 Chevy�s or Mustang�s, everybody has one.2. It had to be a muscle car that was in my price range. The 427 Fords, the Impala SS�s, the Charger R/T�s, etc. were not even close to my price range.OK, he said, what is your definition of a muscle car? I thought about the ones I had owned growing up and decided.3. At least 400 CID, bucket seats, console and floor shift. 4. And since I live in Florida, I needed A/C. Preferably on the car, but aftermarket would do. It also had to fit in my budget. Ok he said, and the hunt was on. First on the hit parade was 66 - 67 Dodger Chargers. Couldn�t afford Hemi�s but 440�s were reasonable. Not rare, but not common either. Almost bought one, but I chickened out at the last minute. Next I came across a two tone green 1969 Mercury Marauder X100 with a 429, 360HP engine, buckets, console and floor shift. It was different and it had everything I wanted but it was priced near the top of my budget and I hated the color. So adding a new paint job to the price of the car destroyed my budget. So I trucked on, twice paying inspectors to verify, and disqualify, Marauders in far away places. I was Marauder hooked and began advertising for a Marauder on Mercury and Ford web sites. Then my Marauder found me, as an email came in from Ohio saying �you still looking for a Marauder?�.It was being sold by a guy who had helped out his friend, by buying the friend�s car, when the friend was in need of money. He had put a few bucks in the car, chrome work and some ding repair. He sounded sincere, and Roger and I felt good about his answers to our questions and the pictures he took for us. So having spent $750 for 2 prior inspections I/we decided to forget getting it inspected and just go for it. The owner said he could handle the shipping and he would pay half of it. Can�t go wrong!!!We had the car shipped to Georgia where Roger lived. The plan was for me to go up to Georgia to work and primarily learn, restoration work from Roger. When we felt I could go forward on my own with the restoration, we would trailer it to my home in Florida. What can possibly go wrong??????The trailer with the Marauder finally arrived in Georgia. Roger met the trailer at the local Home Depot parking lot. The truck driver backed the Marauder off the trailer and proceeded to scrape the drivers side of the car and destroy the chrome wheel well trim. This is what can go wrong... Trim for Mercury Marauders is virtually impossible to find.. Uh Oh..THE WIDOWSo Roger drives the car back to his house and calls me. He says, � I have good news and bad news. The good news is the car will run 90 miles an hour, the bad news is..(the damage to the car). Roger's then tells me his initial reaction when he first saw the car, "it's huge, it's black, it's a Black Widow". I commented back "My wife will be a Widow after she shoots me for buying this". So the car was affectionately dubbed �The Widow�. The car arrived with a solid body and no rust. It was a Colorado and California car most of it�s life. The interior was in very good condition and only needed the carpet replaced and some considerable cleaning. The engine and drive train were in excellent condition and only required fluids being changed and typical tune up parts such as points, plugs, condenser, etc. Checking the records that came with the car indicated that the actually mileage on the car was something less then 50,000. The A/C wasn�t working but a new valve and $150 changed that to good cold air. The engine compartment was untouched and need extensive cleaning and detailing.While the body was solid, the scrape of the front end and the condition of the paint necessitated a paint job. This is where I got lucky, very lucky�. Roger had a neighbor and good friend Brad, who owned Thunder Valley Customs. This was the best body and paint shop in the area. Brad specializes in customs and has had 2 different cars featured in Hot Rod Magazine. Well, Brad showed up at Roger�s house one day and saw the Marauder parked there. Roger told him about it and Brad began looking over the car. Then he started to open doors, hood, trunk and even crawled underneath it. After walking around the car a few more times, he says to Roger, �I want to paint this car. You know I�m expensive but you also know what kind of work I do.� So Roger calls me and relates the story and price to me. I am impressed by both the story and the price, for different reasons (so much for my budget). So I said OK. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I trusted Roger. There was a long line at Thunder Valley Customs and my Marauder would have to wait 4-6 weeks before it could go into the shop.-----Thunder Vally Customs, White GA ----------------------------55 CHevy in line in front of me.-----In the mean time we had the Marauder�s engine compartment �soda blasted� down to bare metal and it was starting to show some surface rust. So Roger decided it was time to detail the engine compartment and trunk while we were waiting for Brad to take the Marauder in for paint. 5 rolls of masking tape, a years worth of USA Today newspapers and 2 weeks of Rogers sweat and talent later, The engine bay and trunk were better then new.In preparation for painting, Roger and I removed all of the chrome from the Widow. The marauder finally went into Thunder Valley Custom for bodywork and paint. The doors, trunk and hood were removed and preped and painted separatly. 3 weeks later I get a call from Roger. It�s out of the shop and it�s beautiful. I flew up to Georgia immediately, and what I saw blew me away. The guys at Thunder Valley Customs exceeded every expectation I could have ever had. Sometimes you get lucky, very lucky. I wanted to keep the car original, but more then that I wanted to make it �my� car. I did this by making �period upgrades�. In other words i did to the car what I might have done to it if I had the car in the 60�s. I removed chrome trim from the front wheel wells and the fender skirts and removed the Marauder emblem from the front above the grill to give the car a very mild �custom look�. I kept all of the chrome trim and the emblem so I could go back to pure original if I wanted. I did the same in the interior adding 1960�s style gauges on the steering column and replacing the rim blow steering wheel with a 60�s style wheel, again retaining all of the original parts. The engine compartment was the same, adding chrome and saving the original.I now have an original car with 1960�s period upgrades and had I owned the Marauder in 1969, it quite possibly could have looked just like it looks now.