12k Mile Garage Find: 1979 Mercury Cougar XR-7

This 1979 Mercury Cougar XR-7 is a garage find with under 13,000 original miles. The XR-7 appears to be a survivor in every sense of the word, with original details present throughout. The XR-7 package could be considered the performance-minded option based on the tightened-up suspension, but sharp handling wasn’t exactly a strong suit of the model. The Cougar resides in Woodbury, Connecticut, not the place you’d expect to find a rust-free example like this; however, the low mileage likely indicates a summers-only driving schedule, and you can see more of the Cougar here on Facebook Marketplace with an asking price of $9,000. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Dennis H. for the find. 

This era of the Cougar was part of a few movements within the automotive industry, including badge engineering across most domestic lineups and the continued popularity of the personal luxury coupe. Despite the overall size of famous nameplates beginning to shrink – both in overall size and performance capabilities – demand for vehicles that isolated its passengers from the road never seemed to slow down, and the XR-7 package attempted to strike a compromise by adding front and rear anti-roll bars and front disc brakes to give some semblance of handling agility. The interior of this example stands out for its bucket seats, full center console, and impressive cosmetic condition.

Of course, we all know the sad tale of the horsepower wars in the 1970s, as it was essentially a race to the bottom. Engine size may still have been large, but performance continued to dwindle as the numbers on paper grew dimmer. However, it also points out (to me, at least) that these cars were still doing one thing incredibly well, and that was giving drivers an incredibly well-cushioned ride and a surprising amount of luxury despite not being the most high-end model. Thick carpeting, an electric clock, and fake wood trim, along with a vinyl roof that matched the interior, all combined to do a decent job of making buyers feel like they had moved upmarket.

The Cougar XR-7 in this listing shows no obvious flaws in pictures, as one would expect for a low-mileage specimen. Cars like these almost certainly belonged to our grandparents and parents, likely stowed in the garage for safe-keeping when it became too challenging to navigate around busy parking lots and intersections without fear of incurring damage to the car or oneself. The asking price, to me, seems reasonable for a car in time-warp condition, but more details on its mechanical upkeep and history would be needed before making a purchase without an in-person inspection. Would you choose the Cougar or one of its siblings?

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  1. Bob_in_TN Member

    I’ve always liked the big personal luxury coupes of the 70’s. I understand their deficiencies (poor space utilization, lackluster performance due to smog regs, sometimes over-done presentation) but they sure do have presence. The Cougars trimmed this way have always been favorites. This one looks great and the price doesn’t seem out of line for a top-notch example.

    Use it as a cruiser, as it was intended, and you’ll be happy. Plot out a rural scenic two-lane, not too twisty, and go for a cruise. Windows down, tunes up, enjoy the experience.

  2. James Miller

    Amazing, it’s in the eye of the beholder… back then a co-worker friend of mine bought one of those as a fresh out of school first car. I found it ghoulishly awful then and way more so now. But it would certainly would make a statement. Hey, gas is cheap now, go for it. As always, just because I don’t like it does not mean that I don’t appreciate that it is in the great shape that it is, nor that it shouldn’t be preserved, it should. Thankfully, not by me.

  3. JoeMac

    This car is a few minutes away from me. So tempting! If I wasn’t in the middle of a resto on an ’83 Regal T-Type, I’d strongly consider this car. These were fantastic luxury / sport cruisers in their day. Great color combo, floor shift console, and in amazing condition. Will get plenty of looks at the local car shows too. Should sell quickly.

  4. hatofpork

    The guitarist in the traveling show band I was in during the late 70’s bought a new one. I traveled thousands of interstate miles in great comfort in one of these.

  5. Joe Haska

    Jeff, Good Question. I bought a 79T-Bird new, but the 80’s were already out. I think I paid about 9K for it. It was a beautiful land yaught car. However, I think I would like this Cougar better, and at 9K you are getting a brand new car.

  6. Superdessucke

    These really coddled you. They never caught again after their time ended. That’s too bad. IMO, today’s crossovers and SUVs would be the perfect templates for the resurrection of the kind of personal luxury and chrome and whitewall style that 1970s motorists so enjoyed.

  7. Gary

    I love it! One of my favorite cars, was my ’75 Cougar Xr7. It was triple white, I drove it for 11 years. It rode and handled great. The 351 Windsor, had pretty decent power. Sold it to a coworker. Her husband wrecked it within 6 months. Great cars!

  8. z28th1s

    My grandparents bought a new Jade Green ’79 Cougar XR7 with the same colored vinyl top. I remember riding with them to pick it up. I was 14 at the time. It was a nice riding car. I would love to have this one.

  9. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Just a question I’d ask the seller: Does it run?

    The description says that it has been “In garage since 1979”

    Does that mean that it was driven for the 12K+ miles, then parked?

    That’s 40 years sitting still, folks! Oh my…. someone will have to spend a lot of money if they want to get it to a reliable driver status. At this point, maybe a Mercury museum would be the best option.

  10. Stevieg Member

    Yeah, I’ve said it before, saying it again. After sitting so long, it will take a lot of little things to make it safe and reliable again. Worth it? In this case I think it is. Not always, but this time a strong yes!

    • Major Thom

      So pay $9000 for it and then spend $$$ to get it running again?
      Does it come with a snorkel?


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