Jeff Ansley has a great story to tell about his 1973 Mercury Cougar convertible.
Born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Jeff’s father Bob was an Algoma Steel employee, while his mother Beth worked at Safeway (a grocery store which was located at the corner of Pim and McNabb).
“I was on the Internet (in 2013) and I was looking for a car for my son, I went on Kijiji and I clicked on ‘classy cars and convertibles’ just for fun, and up pop two 1973 convertible Mercury Cougars,” Jeff told SooToday by phone from his home in Ajax, Ontario.
“My wife Brenda was walking by the computer screen and said “that one (for sale by an owner in Wasaga Beach, Ontario) looks like your Mom’s old car.”
“A tear came to my eye because my Mom asked my Dad for days to buy that car back in ’73.”
“Mom was a blonde bombshell at Safeway, she had her own customers who would wait to go through her cashier line, she was quite the lady.”
“I remember sitting in the back seat of our car and my Mom asked my Dad to drive to the dealership to look at the car numerous times, but we already had a convertible so he kept saying ‘no.’”
“Finally, I guess she must have laid an ultimatum down or something,” Jeff laughed.
“We finally got the car and he bought it for $3,900.”
The family enjoyed the car for 23 years.
“When I was a little kid, we travelled all over the U.S. in that car the first year we had it, we went down to New Mexico, the west coast and across Canada, it was an amazing trip.”
Jeff’s father Bob retired in 1996, with plans to move to Vancouver.
By this point, Jeff had left the Sault in the early 1980s.
The car needed some work done to it, and Jeff recalled he was not in a position to buy the car and fix it up for himself at the time, so the car was sold.
Now, go forward to 2013.
“Here I am looking at this ad on Kijiji and my wife said ‘Wasaga Beach is not that far from where we live, why don’t you go look at it?’”
Jeff called the car’s owner, Steve Black, the following morning.
“I asked him how long he had the car. He said ’about 18 years. I bought it from a guy in Sault Ste. Marie who was retiring and moved to Vancouver.’”
“I got off the phone and I was bawling!”
“It’s my Mom’s car,” Jeff told Brenda.
Jeff’s mother Beth had passed away in 2008, followed by his father Bob in 2012.
“I learned to drive in that car. I dated my wife in that car. It’s such a big part of my life.”
“Back when I was a teenager I took that car and cruised Queen, went down to Bay Street.”
Jeff and Brenda travelled to Black’s home to see the convertible.
Jeff said Black seemed to notice he knew a lot about the make and model.
“I said I know a lot about this one. He said ‘Did your parents have one?’ I said ‘Yeah, this one!’”
“He just about fell over, you know? I told him it was my Mom and Dad’s car.”
“He said ‘unbelievable, my Dad bought it from your Dad, and fixed it up for me.’”
The two exchanged stories about the Cougar.
“This man, Mr. Black, fixed it up for his son Steve Black, and Steve became an OPP officer.”
Black, Jeff discovered, moved to Gogama, then eventually settled in southern Ontario.
Jeff said Black told him he had hardly used the car.
He had driven the car on weekends only, racking up only 10,000 miles in the time he had owned it.
“I started up the engine. Brenda looked at me and she said ‘The car even sounds the same.’”
Jeff paid Black $9,000 for the beloved convertible.
“My Dad had left me a bit of money, so I put it in a savings account.”
“My wife, when we were driving back, said ‘It’s amazing you had $9,000 in that account and the car cost you $9,000.’”
“I said ‘Well, it’s not my $9,000, it’s Dad’s. He would be ticked off because he paid $3,900 for it, then had to pay another $9,000 for it!’” Jeff chuckled.
“It’s kind of a funny story, he and I used to joke around a lot…I just had to buy it, it’s a lot of memories.”
Jeff had originally been surfing the Internet looking for a car for his son to use.
So, did his son get the ’73 Cougar convertible?
“It’s all mine,” Jeff laughed.
Jeff said it’s in need of some restoration, but good for getting around town in Ajax.
However, after he gets some engine work done, Jeff wants to drive the convertible back to the Sault to get some body work done by a local, well-established, well-respected auto body shop.
Jeff, now 53, travels to the Sault often on business, and hopes to drive the Cougar up within the next two years.
He estimates he has spent about $17,000 on restoring the Cougar.
“I’m figuring I’m into this thing for around $50,000 by the time I’m done,” he chuckled.
Jeff said he wants the car to stay in the family.
It’s already been decided the Cougar will go to the youngest of his three sons, who has a 1977 Chevrolet Short Box pickup truck and shares his father’s love for older vehicles.
“I drive it around town, every spare moment,” Jeff said.
“I sit in the car, I hold the steering wheel and all these memories just come rushing back, learning to drive, polishing it up on a Saturday morning to take my girlfriend out for a date.”
“Most of all, I think of my mother just absolutely loving that car.”
“It’s just incredible.”