The 1978 Mercury Cougar was avaiable as either a 2 door hardtop Coupe or a 4-door Pillarless Hardtop. Pricing for the Hardtop Coupe began at $5,000 with the 4-door sold for $5,125. A 2-door Hardtop Coupe XR-7 model was available for $5,600. The XR-7 would prove to be the most popular option with 166,508 examples sold. The station wagon body style, after just one year, was no longer offered, since the new Zephyr model came in station wagon configuration. Brougham became an option package this year, adding opera windows, 'Brougham' scrip embedded in the glass, and a full vinyl roof on the four-door body styles. They also had full-length bright bodyside molding with integral wheel lip moldings, wide belt moldings, and deluxe wheel covers. Inside, there was an electric clock, and Flight Bench seat with folding center armrest.
The base engine was an overhead valve V8 displacing 5 liters and offering nearly 140 horsepower. A 5.8-liter V8 with 150 horsepower and 6.6-liter V8 with 165 horsepower were also available. The XR-7 models came equipped with the 302 cubic-inch V8, SelectShift, power steering and brakes, day and night mirror, and baby burl walnut woodtone instrument panel appliques. With the XR-7 Decor Option, styled wheels and full-length body side molding with color-keyed vinyl inserts were installed, along with hood stripes, color-keyed remote mirrors, and Twin Comfort Lounge seats with recliner. Later in the year, a Midnight/Chamois Decor Option was offered, which added a half vinyl roof with vinyl crossover strap, straight-through paint stripes, Tiffany carpeting, Midnight Blue and Chamois interior, and a padded 'Continental' type rear deck.
Changes for the 1978 model year including a new optional 40-channel CB transceiver, the 308 and larger V8s received a revised low-restriction fresh-air intake, and the 351 and 400 CID V8's received a new mechanical spark control system. There were very few aesthetic changes on the base and XR-7 models. In the front, the Continental-style grille continued just below the front bumper and on the hood was a new stand-up Cougar-head ornament. In the back were twin-pod vertical taillamp assemblies with integral side marker lights.
The base Mercury Cougar models came with a SelectShift three-speed automatic transmission, power steering and brakes, two-speed wipers, black-wall SBR tires, cloth/vinyl bench seat, full wheel lip moldings, taillamp bezels with ornament, Cougar decklight, bright windshield moldings, and simulated rosewood dash applique.
For 1978, Mercury produced 21,398 examples of the 2-door Hardtop base Cougar and 25,364 examples of the 4-door Pillarless Hardtop. By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2017
Sold for $4,500 at 2014 Mecum. This 1978 Mercury Cougar XR7 has had the opera windows and vinyl top removed along with all the badging. It is painted in Platinum with custom Blue and Silver interior. There is new seatbelt webbing, custom carpet in the trunk, new chrome, new shocks, new air conditioning, Cragar SS wheels, and a new battery. By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2014
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