When first introduced, the Mercury Cougar automobiles shared the same platform as the Ford Mustang. Later, they would use the Ford Thunder's platform. The final Cougar were built atop the Contour platform. The Cougar was Mercury's pony car performance machine. There were two models to chose from, the base and the XR-7. There was only one body-style and that was the two-door hardtop. There were a variety of engines to select from starting with the 289 cubic-inch 4-barrel V8 which was rated at 225 horsepower to a 390 cubic-inch V8 4barrel which produced 335 horsepower. The performance package, the GT, was offered on both the base and XR-7 versions. The GT package added the 390 cubic-inch V8 engine and a handling and performance upgrades.
The Mercury Cougar XR-7G, named after the famed racer Dan Gurney, could be ordered from the factory and included many performance add-ons, including a hood scoop, Lucas fog lamps, and hood pins.
The 1968 Mercury Cougar XR-7 finished in red with white top was offered for sale at the 2006 World Wide Group Auction held on Hilton Head Island where it was expected to fetch between $25,000-$35,000. The XR-7 option included a wood-rimmed steering wheel, competition-type instrumentation, walnut dash, toggle switches, leather-covered T-handle automatic transmission shifter, combination leather/vinyl seats, and an overhead console. At the conclusion of the auction the vehicle had been sold for $22,000. By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2006
This 1968.5 Mercury Cougar has a 428 CJ RAM AIR engine, automatic gearbox, and is finished in Onyx black. It is one of the rarest and nicest Cougars in the world. It has a race history that makes it even more unique and special. It was raced by John Elliot and tuned by Barry Poole. They were given the nickname, 'The Boarder Bandit', because of all the US race titles they won and took back to Canada. The 'Boarder Bandits' won the 1968 Stock Eliminator Class with this car. It has been inducted into the Canadian Motor Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. This Cougar is fully documented with everything imaginable; has original owners cards, Marti Auto Report documenting the car as 1 of 1, original invoice, reproduction window sticker, all receipts and photos of the restoration, complete part's break down, photo of the car on the race track in 1968, an article in Ford Mustang Magazine and featured on Speedvision. The car raced until 1974 then parked until the previous owner recently discovered it. It took three years to complete the nut-and-bolt restoration which brought it back to concours quality. With the limited availability of reproduction parts, it was restored using almost all NOS parts. It has traveled a mere 34 miles since it was completed.
XR-7 Hardtop Coupe
Promoted as 'Cougar....The Man's Car' the XR-7 was introduced in 1967 and was Motor Trends 'Car of the Year'. The XR-7 is fully equipped with all the conveniences of the day and features full leather upholstery, a unique feature among 60's muscle cars. While the XR-7 shares much in common with the Ford Mustang, the Cougar has its own aura and personality.
This GT-E version was the only vehicle Ford Production produced in 1968 with the 427 cubic-inch 390 horsepower V8 side oiler engine.
Production was 357 units.
Their slogan was 'See your dealer - At the Sign of the Cat.'
The Cougar automobile speaks to changing market trends. The car was introduced in 1967 as a Mercury version of the Mustang. By 1968 the marketing was moving away from the performance-oriented 'pony car' image of the Mustang and toward sporty luxury. The high-end XR-7 model was projected as a sort of poor-man's Jaguar.
In 1967, Lincoln-Mercury would respond to the ever growing Pony Car wars with a slightly more upscale offering known as the Cougar. With nicer trim and appointments than its brother the Ford Mustang, it was an early version of a personal luxury car, designed to appeal to a more affluent and mature buyer.
With the growing interest in high-performance cars, Mercury would enter the race with several big-block engine offerings. Among them was the hot 427 cubic-inch side oiler engine, a proven performer factory rated at 390 horsepower. It is believed that approximately 350 of these engines were carried over from the 1967 model year and the decision was made to allocate them to the Cougar to create the GTE model. These Cougars represent the final offering from Ford or Mercury to have this ultra-high-performance engine under the hood. This would also be their only Pony Car to offer the 427 as a factory option, as it was not offered on the Mustang.
This GTE Cougar has a wonderful combination of luxury and performance. In addition to the 427 engine, it has a number of performance and trim options, including the two-tone paint, styled chrome wheels and more. It was the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals magazine cover and poster car for 2014. The car has undergone an extensive full restoration to factory original specifications and is the only 427 GTE built in Onyx Black with a Saddle interior.
The Mercury Cougar appeared in 1967 as a sport-luxury vehicle. The muscle car era was in full swing and Mercury used a longer version of the Ford Mustang chassis complete with two doors, leather bucket seats, and V8 engines. In its inaugural year, Motor Trend awarded it their prestigious award, the Car of the Year. The Mercury brought style, sophistication and speed. The engine options ranged from a 289 cubic inch V8 engine producing nearly 200 horsepower to a 390 cubic inch 8-cylinder power-plant capable of producing 335 horsepower and an amazing 427 foot-pounds of torque. The high performance 390 cubic-inch engine ran the quarter-mile in sixteen seconds and raced from zero to sixty in 8.1 seconds. A three-speed synchromesh gearbox was standard and a four-speed manual and three-speed Merc-O-Matic were also available, allowing for customization to suite all types of drivers and styles. The suspension was modified from the Mustang platform to include a longer rear leaf spring and an upgraded front suspension, the result was a softer, comfortable ride with a sports-racing heritage. An optional firmer suspension complete with stiffer springs, solid rear bushings, larger shocks, and wider anti-roll bars, were available for a price. If the driver preferred luxury over performance, the XR-7 package was available. This included competition instrumentation, walnut dash, leather-covered automatic transmission shifter, wood-trimmed steering wheel, and a combination of leather and vinyl seats. Just over 27,000 of the XR-7 option was ordered during its introductory year. The XR-7 option was offered for all years the pony-car Cougar was produced. More than 150,000 2-door Cougar hardtops were produced in 1967. The success and popularity of the car continued in 1968 although sales did drop by around 40,000 vehicles. There were still well-over 110,000 examples produced in 1968. The base engine was the 289 V8 engine producing nearly 200 horsepower. The muscle-car era was heating up, and so were the available engines that Mercury was offering. A 427 and 428 cubic-inch engine became available with the 427 producing 390 horsepower and the 428 producing 335. With the 427, the Cougar could run from zero to sixty in 7.1 seconds and the quarter-mile in just over 15 seconds. The 428 was offered near the close of 1968 model year, a move that was intended to allow the buyer with customization room while keeping insurance and safety personnel content. When compared with the 427, the 428 did better on satisfying emission requirements and had around fifty-less horsepower. A performance package was offered, the GT-E, complete with the 427 cubic-inch V8 matted to a SelectShift Merc-O-Matic, power disc brakes, hood scoop which did nothing except add to the aggressive look of the vehicle, various performance and handling upgrades, and steel wheels.
The cougar changed in many ways in 1969. A convertible option was now offered, the 427 engine option was removed, and the wheelbase became wider and longer resulting in a heavier vehicle. Sales were still strong but they just barely cleared 100,000 units. Mercury introduced the Eliminator package available in blue, orange, and yellow exterior colors. Under the hood lurked a four-barrel Windsor 351 cubic-inch V8 capable of producing nearly 300 horsepower. The base engine was a 302 cubic-inch 8-cylinder producing 290 horsepower with the top of the line engine a 428 cubic-inch 8-cylinder producing just under 340 horsepower. Mercury offered products such as Weber carbs and deep-sump oil pans that amplified the performance to meet customer performance requirements. Larger brakes, sportier suspension, engine modifications, and performance products did make the car a stronger force on the drag strip but it was often shown-up by the smaller and lighter muscle cars of the day.
For 1970 the Cougar continued to grow in size. Although the size meant more interior room for the passengers, it also meant more weight. The Eliminator was still available, now with a 351 cubic-inch Cleveland 8-cylinder engine producing 300 horsepower. The 302 cubic-inch V8 rated at 290 horsepower was the base engine. A 429 cubic-inch 8-cylinder big-block with Ram-Air induction offered 375 horsepower and 440 foot-pounds of torque. With less than 4,300 convertible options sold during the 1970 model year, it guarantees their exclusivity in modern times. Although the size of the car and the available engines grew, sales did not. Just over 72,000 examples were produced in 1970.
The muscle-car era was beginning to decline due to stiff safety and emission regulations, gas shortages, and steeper insurance premiums. Mercury decided to continue the Cougar on the path of luxury with sport-tendencies, resulting in a larger wheelbase. The Eliminator package was no longer offered. The 351 or 429 cubic-inch engine were all that were offered. Horsepower ranged from 285 through 370 depending on the engine and configuration selected. 3,440 convertible were sold and nearly 63,000 combined total Mercury Cougars were produced in 1971.
In 1972 the 351 cubic-inch V8 was all that were offered. Sales were around 54,000 units with the hardtop configuration proving again to be the popular option. Horsepower was now rated in SAE Net horsepower. The Cougar produced between 168 through just over 265 depending on configuration. The same continued into the 1973 model year.
With sales around 60,000 in 1973, Mercury decided it would be the final year for the Cougar in the 'pony' car configuration. Mercury continued to use the name 'Cougar' in various models.
Built atop an enlarged Ford Mustang chassis, adorned with luxury Mercury had become famous for, and powered by high-performance engines, the Mercury Cougar was a well-rounded vehicle. It was designed to offer performance while keeping the occupants comfortable and content. By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2007