Mercury gets a pony car. That was big news for Mercury dealers in 1967. The first generation Mercury Cougar was based off the 1964 1/2 - 1973 Ford Mustang and positioned between the Mustang and the 1967 – 1971 Ford Thunderbird, the Cougar would serve as the performance halo car for Mercury for several decades.
1967 Mercury Cougar
The 1967 Cougar was available as a two-door hardtop in base and XR-7 trim levels. The Cougar was based on the 1967 Mustang, but had a 3-inch-longer wheelbase and different sheet metal. The Cougar featured a full-width grille with vertical bars and hidden headlamps. The rear of the Cougar had vertically slatted grillework over the taillights. Designers deliberately made the Cougar more upscale and “European” than the Mustang. Mercury’s hard work paid off as the Cougar was named Motor Trend magazine’s Car of the Year for 1967.
The Cougar XR-7 model featured a wood-grained steering wheel, a simulated wood-grained dashboard with a full set of black-faced competition instruments and toggle switches, an overhead console, a T-type center automatic transmission shifter, and leather or vinyl seats.
Engine choices ranged from a 200 horsepower 289 cubic inch two-barrel V8 to a 335 horsepower 390 cubic inch four-barrel V8. A GT performance package, available on both the base and XR-7 models, included the 390 cubic V8, an upgraded suspension, more powerful brakes, better tires and a low-restriction exhaust system.
1968 Mercury Cougar
Mercury did not change the Cougar too much in 1968. The Cougar received federally mandated side marker lights and a collapsible steering column. Three new engines were added to the Cougar option list: a 230 horsepower 302 cubic inch four-barrel V8, a 335 horsepower 428 cubic inch four-barrel V8; and a 390 horsepower 427 cubic inch four-barrel V8. The 289 cubic inch engine was made standard on base cars without the interior decor group midway through the model year. The 210 horsepower 302 cubic inch V8 with a two-barrel V8 became the base engine on all XR-7 models and early base model Cougars.
A Cougar XR7-G, named for Mercury road racer Dan Gurney, was introduced. The Cougar XR7-G came with a hood scoop, fog lamps, and hood pins. Engine selection was limited only to the 302, 390, and 428 V8. Mid-year a 7.0-L GT-E package became available on both the standard and XR-7 Cougars. The GT-E package came with the 427 V8 with optional Cobra Jet Ram Air.
1969 Mercury Cougar
Mercury made several change to the Cougar in 1969. A convertible model was added to the line in either standard and XR-7 trim. The front grille switched to horizontal bars, and a spoiler and a Ram Air induction hood scoop were added as options. A 290 horsepower 351 “Windsor” V8 was added to the engine lineup. The XR-7G and the 7.0-L GT-E performance options were replaced with an Eliminator performance package. The Eliminator was the top-of-the-line performance model of the Cougar line. The package used the 351 cubic inch four-barrel V8 as the standard engine, but offered the 390 four-barrel V8, the 428CJ and the 302 as available options. It also featured a blacked-out grille, special side stripes, front and rear spoilers, an optional Ram Air induction system, and a performance-tuned suspension and handling package. It was available in a variety of colors, including White, Bright Blue Metallic, Competition Orange, and Bright Yellow.
1970 Mercury Cougar
The 1970 Cougar received a few changes inside and out. The Cougar received a new front end with a pronounced center hood extension and grille similar to the 1967 and 1968 models. A Federally mandated locking steering columns appeared inside. Rear taillights were revised. The 300 horsepower 351 “Cleveland” V8 was added to the option list. And the 390 cubic inch V8 engine was now dropped.
The Cougar would be replaced with a heavily revised model in 1971.
For information about other Mercurys, see our post on the 1961-1964 Mercury Moneterey.
To find or sell your own classic car, see the listings in Classics for Sale.