My 1979 Mercury Cougar XR-7
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History of the Cougar

If there are any inaccuracies, Email me.

Mercury unveiled the Cougar amid a great deal of excitement due to Ford's massive advertising campaigns in 1966. Despite this attention, many felt that the Cougar was doomed by Lincoln-Mercury's small dealer base and striking similarity to the smaller, cheaper Mustang.

The Cougar, however, surprised Detroit by winning Motor Trend's Car of the Year award in 1967. That wasn't all, Mercury received the best award from the public: 150,000 Cougars found buyers in 1967, and 110,000 left dealerships the following year. These first generation Cougars brilliantly married the endearing qualities of both the Thunderbird and Mustang and wrapped them in an attractive shell.

As the early 70s rolled along, so did Mercury's Cat. The Cougar had lost the performance appeal of the 60s in favor of the 70s trend of land barge luxury. The car had become, like the Mustang of that era, large, more aptly, corpulent. Sales declined until 1977.

The Cougar, still massive, found the years of 1977-1979 to be some of its best ever. In 1978, the Cat basked in the warm glow of 213,000 unit sales. These years also saw the Cougar's designers develop an intense and morbid love for chrome.

The most interesting item from the next few years was the short existence of a four door Cougar station wagon. This quasi-Cougar can be seen in my "Other Peoples' Cougars" page. According to, the Cougars produced from 1980- 1982 were basically Zephyrs with a Cougar emblem thrown on. Most Cougar enthusiasts will tell you that these years were, to put it mildly, pathetic for Mercury's Cat.

Still using the Fox platform it gained in 1980, the Cougar adopted a curvy aerodynamic look that pleased buyers. Sales happily rose from 1983-1988, including 5,000 20th Anniversary Edition Cats that sold before Mercury could produce them.

After a switch to its old abode, the Thunderbird frame, the Cougar adopted a supercharged 3.8 litre V6 engine, denying customers of a V8, always an option before.

Any 1993 Cougar is an XR-7, because this is the year that Mercury tossed the LS model. As for the sales, they began a happy upward trend that year.

Over the next few years, the Cougar underwent several style changes, as well as some engine changes too. All this culminated with the last rear-wheel drive Cougar rolling off the assembly line in 1997, an new breed was coming.

The new Cougars, introduced in 1999, feature 2.o litter inline four cylinder engines with optional 2.5 litre V6s. A massive style change makes this Cat quite distinguishable from its earlier brothers.

In 2002, Mercury is planning to release its, ugh, four door Cougar. I know, its sad, but at least the handles on the excess doors are hidden inside the door frame.



Engine Details


Baseline- 302 V8
XR-7- 289 V8
GT- 390 V8

Baseline-302 V8
XR-7- 390 V8
GT- 428 V8

Baseline dropped.
All models- 351 V8

All models- 460 V8

XR-7- 302 V8
GT- 351 V8

XR7- inline four-banger (optional V8)

XR7- inline four-banger (optional V8)

XR7- 3.8 litre V6
Baseline LS- V6

All models- 5.o litre HO

All models- 4.6 litre SOHC

All models- 2.o litre four-banger (optional 2.5 litre V6)