Aruba Eliminator

1970 Mercury Cougar Eliminator

What Once Was Lost, Has Now Been Found!

In 1970, Mercury built over 72,000 Cougars, but only 2268 of those came equipped with the Eliminator Package. That itself makes this Eliminator a rare vehicle, but this one in particular is extremely rare, as there were only a few configured with Ford’s 351-4V Cleveland Engine, paired with a 4-speed manual transmission, painted in Competition Orange with Black Knitted Decor interior, and heavily optioned with power steering, power brakes, center console, AM/8-track stereo, and Whisperaire A/C, and the only one produced with a 3.00 conventional rear axle. This is one rare cat indeed!

Conventional wisdom would state that a vehicle this rare would be well cared for and whereabouts known to Cougar enthusiasts worldwide. That however is not the case for this particular car. The history and sad story of the Aruba Eliminator is well documented, but not much information surfaced about it for several years. Read More About Aruba Eliminator’s History Here. Then photos began to surface offering some clues as to what happened to this particular vehicle. These photos painted the unfortunate picture of this muscle machine wasting away near the Caribbean Sea in Aruba. And when the team at KTL Restorations was contacted about bringing this cat back to life – many said it was “too far gone.” But thankfully, KTL accepted the challenge, and its journey back began!

The Build

Muscle cars are associated with speed, but the trek from Aruba to KTL’s shop took six months! KTL finally took delivery of this particular Eliminator in March of 2018, and the team got to work on what was a multi-year project to not only bring this car back, but to do complete a concors level restoration using as many of its original parts as possible. Sadly, the salty Caribbean air led to a great deal of rust on the exterior. The interesting aspect to this is that unlike what is typically seen in the US (where rust begins from the chassis and works up), here it started at the roofline and moved down.

Even with all of that rust damage, there were still elements of this car that remained in pretty decent shape! The chassis was solid, front clip was able to be salvaged, much of the chrome trim survived, and it still retains its original powerplant, as the engine wsa machined and rebuilt (after removing several iquana eggs from it)! The exterior, that was in such poor condition, has been brought back to life using parts donated by other 1970 Cougars, or hand fabricated parts by the team at KTL.

“The Aruba Eliminator is our most accomplished concours build in the 20 year history of KTL Restorations,” explained Crystal Lawrance, Vice President of KTL Restorations, Inc. “The Aruba Elminator is one of the rarest optioned 4 speed, fully loaded Eliminators produced in 1970. We have poured thousands of person-hours into bringing this car back to life. Her owner’s passion for rare vehicles has provided us an exceptional opportunity to take our time and provide attention to every detail.”

Aruba Elminimator – Reborn!

The Aruba Eliminator has officially been resurrected! It made its debut at SEMA 2022 in Las Vegas, NV, completing a true labor of love and concluding a project that took nearly 5 years, thousands upon thousands of hours of labor, incredible amounts of research, and even a few bloody knuckles! Some 30 years since it last ran, this beast looks, drives, and performs like it just rolled off the showroom floor! The Aruba Eliminator is indeed reborn!