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Estepona Christmas Fair

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Barry Surtees, living the Kougar dream!

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Both cars again, my future son in law driving the Corvette

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Engine re-assembled (all polishing by ME!)

 

21 YEAR WAIT, NOW LIVING THE KOUGAR DREAM!

by Barry Surtees

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Having moved to Brighton in 1977, I frequently stopped at a small garage very near to my house that specialised in British sports cars, this particular summer evening, a spectacular car on the forecourt was a British Racing Green Kougar.

I took it for a test drive, but ultimately baulked at the asking price of £16,000.00, but the die was cast, I would never forget this vehicle, I determined that one day, I would possess one!

Some years passed before I was in a position to get one and now it was 1984, I built a kitchen extension for a friend and it was agreed that my personal time would be exchanged for his expertise with cars,

we would build my Kougar from scratch, however, events once again intervened, I owned a Nursing home in Brighton, a new regulation determined that I must install a fire escape, I engaged a firm who constructed it, but without realising had erected it too close to a neighbouring building, the company went broke, leaving me with a serious planning problem so the staircase, 4 floors of it had to come down.

I couldn’t afford to replace the whole thing so my pals labour that he owed me, circa 200 hours was spent, dismantling and reconstructing the fire escape!! My Kougar dream had evaporated again!!

Fast forward to 1998, in all of the intervening years I had never seen even ONE Kougar on the road, but this day I was in Harwoods at Pulborough about to order a new Range Rover, while waiting for the chap to give me the part exchange value of my existing car, I picked up a copy of “Exchange & Mart”, there in the Classic section was “Kougar for Sale” but amazingly also in Pulborough, £9,999.00. I called and the guy said, “Come on over, but I tell you now, don’t come if you intend to offer me anything less than my asking price!!”

So, I went and £9,999.00 to the penny later, the car was mine, I’d waited 21 years.

It initially underwent a complete overhaul, everything out, engine rebuilt, respray, the lot, the car did many sprints, notably the Brighton Speed Trials many times.

I’ve owned some exotic cars while I’ve had the Kougar including a Jensen Interceptor, two Astons including the flagship Vanquish ‘S’ and a Maserati, but at no time have I even remotely considered selling the Kougar, no car that I have EVER possessed has the ability to put a smile on my face as much as this car does, indeed it has stopped traffic all over Europe, it’s been around the Nurburgring and Le Mans, it may just as well have been a registered participant in the Mille Miglia, as we trailed this race and I mixed it with the finest classic cars in the world, even shaking hands with Jochen Mass as I PASSED him in the 722 Mercedes!!

Four years ago, we pretty much sold up and moved to Malaga, of course the car came too, we towed it down behind my beloved Defender, taking a week or so to drive the 1500 miles, stopping at Paris, Le Mans, Bordeaux, Biarritz, Madrid, Jaen, Malaga, in each of these cities, I could have sold it a dozen times over.

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Kougar just about to leave to come back for its Lester Bannister overhaul

We have done the trip several times now, every time travelling a different way, but so many times I’ve driven the car on the clubs European tours, to Le Mans, both the 24 hour and Classic, Spa, Nurburgring etc. Frequently I’ve taken off on my own, always stopping in Paris for a night or two to satisfy the artistic part of me, if anyone has ever driven around the Arc De Triomphe, you will know that this is NOT easy, in a Kougar, its like Moses parting the Red Sea!!! Everybody stopped for me!

Barry's-Article-May-2016-5The Spanish, like Italians, love a red sports car, driving the Kougar through countless white villages in Spain, always brings the town to a halt, in one town, they even insisted that I drove the car INTO the restaurant, if I had a pound for each photograph that has been taken of it or charged for every time someone has asked to sit in it, my pockets would be a lot deeper, it has resided in Malaga’s Classic car Museum, had a ragging at the Jerez race track, been to Guadix a track near Granada and has generally been a source of joy and appreciation to countless people.

Barry's-Article-May-2016-6At the time that we moved to Spain, we joined an amazing classic car club, the CCCA, Classic Car Club of Andalucia, we have met the most lovely people and pretty much our entire social life is spent with these people and their astonishing vehicles, its an active club, a club night once a month, followed the following Saturday by a run, circa 150 miles, stopping for coffee, maybe a tipple (or two for the non-drivers) and then in a Venta (roadside restaurant or inn) where approximately 60 of us will eat local and amazing tapas in places that we couldn’t have hoped to find ourselves.

3 or 4 times a year we’ll go on a 3-5 day trip, packing evening dresses and D.J’s is a challenge in a Kougar so sometimes we get a pal to take a suit carrier and / or a case for us.

 

 

 

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Taken on Trafalgarbeach, just offshoreis the siteof the famous battle

Jo Ramirez, former McClaren team boss, Sennas former mechanic with Sennas helmet and Senna & Prosts overalls

 Recently though, following various periods of “incapacitation” I’ve struggled with the clutch and I can tell you a hot Kougar in 45 degrees is no place to be, so for the longer runs or if it’s likely to be super hot, I’ll take the Corvette which we also keep down there (I seem to remember another Kougar club member with this combo of cars??)
Finally recognising that I cannot drive the car for long journeys, I brought the car back to England where Lester Bannister has upgraded many things on the car including a servo on the clutch and many, many other things, that have returned the car to its former handling capabilities, I cannot believe the difference new tyres have made!
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Both of my cars, my pal used the Kougar, but after 200 miles he was finished!!

 

I cannot imagine EVER being without this car, it is not the most beautiful and won’t ever win a concourse, because I’m not a “toothbrush” kind of chap, I’ve used the car regularly for ALL of the years that I’ve owned it, even when getting in and worse, getting back out has been a challenge, but since I saw Donald Day drive his ERA with one arm and a paraplegic chap being lifted into his Bentley and since meeting Win Percy at the CCCA (former British Touring Car champ) who was paralysed, but still drives adapted cars like a demon, I’ve adopted the view that while I can I definitely will.

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Another run out up to the lakes above Malaga

Kougar and its stablemate Panther

 

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 Car run up into the mountains 46 degrees centigrade, we we dying!!

Kougar in Malaga Classic Car Musseum

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 Who else gets to eat their Christmas dinner in the man shed? Julie was mad, everyone else loved it!!


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Son Paul, Grandson Marley on his Kougar

Engine re-assembled (all polishing by ME!)

(Quick plug, if your Kougar needs work, ANY mechanical work, Lester is your man, like his Dad, there is NOTHING that he doesn’t know about Jaguar).