(Please Note: This history is a work in progress. We will be adding to it during the coming months.)
HISTORY OF THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COUGAR CLUB
The Mercury Cougar was represented by a small number in the early years of the annual Fabulous Fords Forever exhibition at Knott's Berry Farm. Each year, the number increased as the word spread. Cougar enthusiasts were happy to discover the love of the Cougar was shared and there were actually clubs dedicated to the 67-73 Cat. Unfortunately for the folks in the metropolitan Los Angeles area, these clubs ranged from the San Francisco bay area to San Diego and meetings were usually held during the evenings.
In 1993 a small group of classic Cougar enthusiasts agreed to meet at a restaurant in West Los Angeles for the purpose creating a club in the L.A. area. They arrived only to find that the restaurant was closed. Undaunted, they convened in the parking lot and proceeded with the meeting, challenged by street noise.
Mike Brown had sent letters to Mercury Cougar enthusiasts in the Southern California area. The assemblage was the result of Mike's initial effort. Off to a rocky start, there were follow-up meetings to decide whether this should be an extension of an existing club or a new one. The Southern California Cougar Club was born. This hardy band became some of the SCCC pioneers. As in most organizations, a few dropped by the wayside, but the momentum has increased. Southern California Cougar Club has an annual paid membership of over 80, with 30 charter members.
Our first two years were focused on the norms--establishing our charter and by-laws and the election of officers. We also started exchanging ideas on the types of activities and the general character of our club.
In 1995, we hosted our first all Ford car show. It was quite an undertaking, as the members had zero experience. Eight weeks before the show date, our original site, Anaheim Lincoln Mercury, closed its doors. As the show must go on, the search for a new location was a top priority. Buena Park Lincoln Mercury came to our rescue. On June 11 at six a.m., the Show staff arrived at Buena Park Lincoln Mercury to discover the lot reserved for our show was filled with the dealer's new cars. A relay team started moving the new vehicles to a temporary home. That task was finished as the participants began arriving.
The show was a great success with 85 entrants, including 29 Cougars. What we lacked in experience was offset by enthusiasm.
Mustang Illustrated magazine covered the show and gave a glowing report: "The Southern California Club's 1st Annual All Ford Car Show was a resounding success!" We continue to use Bob Wallace's byline as our show name: CAT SCRATCH FEVER.
The 1996 show presented us with a new challenge. We planned to use the same dealership, but circumstances prohibited. After many barriers and change of direction we held our show on June 9 at Burch Ford. Now, seasoned veterans from previous year's event, we moved forward with confidence. This show, too, was successful. Participation totaled 75.
June 8, 1997 returned us to Burch Ford. Still experiencing lessons learned, we decided not to have the "dunk tank" of 1996. We also made improvements in the judging procedures to increase efficiency and reduce the labor involved. Participation in the 1997 event topped 75.
Our trophies were unusual. Instead of the traditional plaque or pilloried trophy (with or without a car), each trophy was a medallion hung on a red, white and blue ribbon. First place was gold, second place was silver and third place was bronze. They were well received by the winners.
The 1997 show shirt featured a big "30" with a Mercury Cougar bursting through the zero - our contribution to the thirtieth anniversary of our favorite muscle car.
The Southern California Cougar Club stepped up to the challenge of presenting the 1998 West Coast Cougar Nationals scheduled for 19 July 1998. For the convenience of our show guests and their Cats, we provided a mobile wash and detail person on Friday night. We hosted a Friday night "get acquainted" session with snacks and a "no host" bar.
By 10 a.m. on show day, we had 103 registered Cats placed and were ready for the difficult judging process. It was a double-difficult task, as the cars were judged from all angles and the entries had been polished, buffed, scrubbed and detailed until not a speck of dust remained. The setting was a parking lot, which contained grassy areas and trees. This was definitely an improvement over our past facilities.
Featured at the show site were a real disk jockey, Master of Ceremonies, 31 Flavors ice cream, clowns, raffle prizes, On the Go Catering and a mobile unit to print show shirts to order (Primrose Lane). Our show also included various Craft Booths and vendors.
Trophies were awarded at the Saturday night banquet in front of a crowded conference room. The 1998 West Coast Cougar National show was successful in the quantity and quality of the entries, the positive comments from our fellow enthusiasts and the "balance sheet".
Nineteen-ninety-eight also proved to be an outstanding year in exposure opportunities. One of our Cougars was displayed prominently with the new 1999 Cougar during its debut at the Fabulous Fords Knotts Berry Farm Show. We were also requested to show that same Cougar at the grand opening of the Lincoln-Mercury National headquarters in Irvine, California. It was one of four vehicles invited and the only Cougar. Attendees were restricted to Lincoln-Mercury top level management and television/radio personnel. Another of our Cats spent one week on display in the National Lincoln-Mercury headquarters show room.
Club activities have included a Palm Springs meet, Laughlin weekend, Las Vegas weekend joint show in Santa Maria with the Northern California Cougar Club, participation in a Poker Run, a combined club function in San Diego with the San Diego Cougar Club and, of course, holiday parties.
Nineteen-ninety-nine functions attended by our members included the Peterson Museum in January and a February joint outing with the San Diego Cougar Club at Ruby's in Laguna Beach. The annual Knott's Berry Fabulous Fords Forever show in April was as usual with a nice showing of Cougars. San Diego Cougar Club hosted their annual all Ford show at Deer Park, where we were well represented. Some members also participated in the Bellflower Car Show early October and Laughlin Never Cool River Nights the last part of October.
Highlight of the year was Cat Scratch Fever, our all Ford show, held in June. Before the crack of dawn, volunteers were busy with the last minute tasks in preparation for what we hoped was an onslaught of those wonderful Mercury Cougars. The show was cradled in the arms of the golden California sun, caressed by the cool ocean breeze and shaded by the beautiful trees. Registrations totaled sixty-six including eight entries the day of the show. Cougars accounted for 44% of the population. On special display was the 1999 Cougar. Not as exciting as the 1998 Nationals, we were certainly pleased with the quantity and quality of the cars. This show's success was due to the participation and support of our fellow enthusiasts.
1999 culminated with our annual holiday party, which featured great food, fun, camaraderie and a progressive gift exchange.
We were given permission to host the 2000 West Coast Nationals. Several sites were considered but we returned t the Pacific Care parking lot with its trees and grassy spots. This was the first year we invited the 1999 and 2000 Cougars to join our show as entries. Lincoln Mercury co-sponsored this show and was instrumental in it success. The "get acquainted" Mexican buffet on Friday night was enjoyed by a capacity crowd.
The morning of July 22 found show staff readying the logistics and putting final touches in place. We were honored with a great showing of Cougars - 100! The judges really had a tremendous task facing them. There was a Judging Book for each entry, based on the class, which gave the judges a tool with which to work. We have our member, Rich Ladd, to thank for the time and energy expended on authoring, etc.
Cougar One and Thunderbird One were prominently placed as honored guests at the show. Of course, they were accorded all the respect due their celebrity status.
We had one of the largest raffles, thanks to Lincoln Mercury, River Palms, and many other outside sources. Rock and Roll music kept everyone's foot tapping that is except for judges, who were busy with the task at hand.
Our mascot, Sunn' So Cal C, make his second appearance - this time of the arm of our show shirt.
The Awards Banquet, again a full house, was great fun and great food. We had two guest speakers - Jim Pinkerton (owner of Cougar One) and Steve Eitzen (Publisher of TCCN). Scott Ferguson, President of CCOA, also said a few words. Steve Eitzen presented the first Top Cat award to SCCC member, Rich Ladd. Sunday morning was bittersweet with a Farewell Breakfast, where we said "Happy Purring" to both old and new friends.
Part of the funds from our shows has been donated to the City of Hope. Our members have also donated new toys to Su Casa during the holiday season.
TO BE CONTINUED