The Mercury Cougar entered its second generation in 1971. While still based on the Ford Mustang, the Cougar would now be similar in size to the GM’s intermediate size models. The Mercury Cougar would see consistent sales during the three-year production run. However, sales of muscle cars would start to diminish during this time period as high insurance rates, government regulation and gas shortages would drive consumers to smaller more economical cars.
1971 Mercury Cougar
The Mercury Cougar was restyled for 1971. The Cougar still used the Mustang chassis but has a 111 inch wheelbase. The Cougar had a new front end that featured four exposed headlights. The center grille was larger than last year’s model. The roofline now featured a a “flying buttress” sail-panel that was suggestive of fastback styling. The Cougar was available as the standard coupe, a convertible, the XR-7 or the GT trim levels. The Eliminator package did not return in 1971. Engine options were the 351 Windsor two-barrel V8, the 351 Cleveland four-barrel V8, and the 429 Cobra Jet four-barrel V8. Horsepower ratings were 240, 285 and 370, respectively.
1972 Mercury Cougar
Government regulation reared its head in 1972. Automobile manufacturers were no longer able to use gross power numbers and instead had use net power figures. This caused power rating to drop significantly. As such the Cougar’s engines options were revised. The standard engine was the 351 Cleveland two-barrel V8, now rated at 163 horsepower. Optional was a 351 Cleveland V8 with a four-barrel Cobra Jet, that was rated at 266 horsepower. The 429 Cobra Jet was no longer available. The Cougar was otherwise unchanged for 1972 with the exception of minor trim changes.
1973 Mercury Cougar
The Cougar would continue as a carry-over from last year’s model with minimal changes to the grille, taillights and trim options. This would be the last year for the Mustang based Cougar and the Cougar convertible. The standard engine remained the 351 Cleveland two-barrel V8. By this time, the traditional muscle car was dead. The Ford Mustang would become the Ford Pinto based Mustang II in 1974, while the Cougar would shift to the Ford Torino chassis and become a personal luxury car.
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