While luxury was
the basis for the Cougar, performance was certainly there for the
taking. Those seeking performance might have selected the
new Cougar GT package which included beefed up suspension with
heavy duty springs and a thicker stabilizer bar, the 390 cid,
325hp V8 with lower restriction exhaust, and a power-booster fan.
As an added bonus, there was the GT-E package, which came standard
with the 428 cid V8, functional twin hood scoops, quad-trumpet
exhaust, and styled steel wheels.
During the 1967
and 1968 Trans-Am racing seasons, Dan Gurney, one of America's
most famous drivers and a long-time fan of Mercury-based cars in
competition, campaigned a Cougar and posted impressive results.
In fact, none other than Parnelli Jones was Gurney’s teammate and
the pair finished 1-2 at several events. To commemorate
these accomplishments, a special XR-7G edition was created that
included all the features of the base XR-7, special badges, hood
pins and scoop, plus an Oxford vinyl top with sunroof.
For 1968, Cougar
posted 113,726 sales, which was to be expected after the first
year’s excitement. It should be pointed out that its strongest
competition, Pontiac’s Firebird, saw a marked increase in sales
numbers for 1968, but it was still a few thousand units behind the
|Cougar garnered Motor
Trend's coveted "Car of the Year" award over some tough competition.
mysteriously marketed as a "Man's Car". Somewhat humorous today
given the current connotation for cougar.
when looking at these cars is the original data plate with the VIN
and other important information. By searching the Internet, you
can find a couple of services that might help you with deciphering
the information on this plate and better translating exactly what
you are looking at. Be sure the VIN, or ID number on the
data plate matches the official VIN. On 1967 models it's
stamped on the top of the right fender apron within a cut-out of
the fender, while the 1968 editions have a stamped metal tag
visible through the windshield that is riveted to the right side
of the dashboard.
On each Cougar,
affixed to the rear face of the driver’s door is the car’s data or
build plate. It contains the car’s VIN, which also contains
codes that determine if the car is the base model (with bench or
bucket front seats) or the XR-7, as well as the original engine
installed when the car was new. This plate can also reveal
where the car was made. All 1967 production was at the Dearborn
plant in Michigan, and to find out where the car was originally
sold, the DSO or District Sales Office code can be read, which
helps in discovering the car’s heritage. For 1968, to help ease
the production burden of Dearborn, as well as assist in deliveries
on the west coast, the San Jose plant also started to produce
Cougars. Both of these plants were active in Ford’s
pony car production, but the third Mustang plant in Metuchen, New
Jersey, has no recorded Cougar builds.
By the late
1970s, early Mustangs were taking off in collector circles with
the best ones snapped up and many predicting these cars made by
the millions would soon be in the same price territory as the
two-passenger Thunderbirds from 1955 to 1957. Specialty shops
and reproduction parts were made available for Mustang like no
other Ford product since the Model A. For Cougar
fans however, they could only hope to search and scratch for
that rare unique piece of NOS trim, or make do by adapting a
Mustang or other Mercury part for their needs. But savvy
collectors spotted the right cars to buy: XR-7's with big
blocks, GT and GT-E’s, and of course, the Dan Gurney edition.
As time moved
on, the growing demand for Cougar parts caught the attention of
a number of Mustang suppliers, and eventually exclusive items
were being produced. This not only helped those owning original
low production models produce prize winning restorations, it
also meant that some “replicas” of these models could be
produced. However, Cougar collectors, as well as many
other Ford products, have an edge over some other “replica”
rarities that often flood the market.
market for Cougar is strong, but still lags a bit behind the
Mustang. Typical in car collecting, the car that was bit more
expensive and luxurious when new often doesn’t do as well in the
market as the lower priced, often much more common model.
In base form compared to an equally equipped Mustang, the Cougar
fetches about 85-90% of the Ford branded pony car.
For 1967, the
XR-7 option is a good 30-40% increase over the base model, even
more if the big-block 390 is under the hood, and this would be
about the most desirable model one could want for that year,
unless of course you find one of the legendary R-code 427's.
For 1968, the ultimate car depends on what you are looking for.
If it's pure power, the GT-E is the car of choice, set-up for
street performance and housing the might of the 428 as standard.
Fewer than 300 of these cars were produced, and they are expensive
today. If it was just plain rare or luxurious you were
looking for, the XR-7G, Dan Gurney edition is an attractive
option. While it was created to celebrate a racing legend,
it was also created to be sold to buyers wanting some flash.
on for many years with Mercury, at one time defining the direction
of styling for the entire marque. Even in this strong
collector car market, we feel it is still undervalued. The
educated Cougar buyer can find a lot of bang for their buck in the
first generation Cougar.
Skinner and the editors at Collector Car Market Review
Back to Cougar page 1
This profile first appeared in the May
2005 issue of Collector Car & Truck Market Guide. (c)
Copyright 2005 VMR International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Cougar page 1