1968 Mercury Cougar Barn Find With 45,756 Genuine Miles

Disclosure: This site may receive compensation from some link clicks and purchases.

Opening a barn or shed and coming face-to-face with a lost classic car is a wonderful experience. It is heightened further if the vehicle is unmolested and has a low odometer reading. That is the case with this 1968 Mercury Cougar. It is unclear how long it spent hiding, but it is a rock-solid survivor with a genuine 45,000 miles on the clock. It needs a new home, with the seller listing it here on eBay in Denver, North Carolina. They set a BIN of $11,800, but there is scope for interested parties to make an offer.

The history of this Cougar is unclear, meaning there are no clues suggesting when it went into storage. It isn’t perfect, emerging with its Cardinal Red paint carrying a collection of chips, marks, and defects. However, the respectable shine it retains means the new owner could address the shortcomings when, or if, they feel it’s appropriate. The panels sport some bumps and bruises, but the surprise packet is the lack of significant rust problems. There are a few small spots in the lower extremities, like the rear quarters, but nothing that a competent person couldn’t address with well-crafted patches. I can spot areas in the trunk lid and around the back window, but nothing I’d classify as severe. The underside shots reveal areas of surface corrosion, but the floors, rails, and torque boxes are structurally sound. The trim, including the bumpers and distinctive grille, look good for their age, and there are no glass issues.

Although Mercury initially offered the 302ci V8 as its entry-level engine in 1968, it phased in a modified version of the 289 during the model year. The VIN for this Cougar confirms it features the 289, which sends 195hp to the 9″ rear end via a three-speed C4 automatic transmission. This configuration was the most conservative offered in the Cougar for that year, resulting in a ¼-mile ET of 17.3 seconds. That brings us to a moment where we can separate the philosophy of the Cougar from that of the equivalent Mustang. Mercury marketed the Cougar as a more luxurious or up-market version of the pony car, and as often happens, with luxury comes additional weight. This car should tip the scales at around 3,126 lbs, while an equivalent Mustang weighs 2,978 lbs. The extra 148 lbs carried by the Cougar may seem insignificant to some, but it is a significant factor helping explain why the Mustang can scorch the ¼-mile in 16.7 seconds. As anyone involved in drag racing can attest, a ½-second gap is a yawning chasm in such situations. The seller indicates this classic runs and drives, with its engine and transmission feeling strong. They say it would benefit from an exhaust, brakes, and tires before being considered roadworthy. I’d throw in a thorough inspection to hedge my bets on that front.

This Cougar’s interior isn’t perfect, but I’m sure we can all agree we’ve seen far worse in cars recently unearthed in barns. For me, a key consideration is the lack of visible rodent infestation. Anyone who has dealt with it can confirm that the odor is somewhat less than pleasant and challenging to eliminate. I’ve seen owners scrap otherwise serviceable trim and upholstery due to the distinct smell left by Stuart Little and his family. That doesn’t appear to be a problem, and the overall condition is acceptable for a survivor-grade classic. Someone mounted a radio/cassette player under the dash, but I can’t spot any further aftermarket additions. The seller admits the driver’s seat lower cover is damaged, but the remaining upholstered surfaces and headliner look pretty respectable. Whether the new owner considers a retrim will depend on how much restoration work they can complete themself. As we will see, ultimate value and financial viability may be critical drivers with this classic.

While it isn’t perfect, this 1968 Mercury Cougar is a solid classic with no immediate panel or paint needs. It would undoubtedly benefit from a cosmetic restoration, but that advice comes with a note of caution. Because it represents an entry-level model rather than an XR-7 or GT-E, its potential value could be surprisingly low once restored. Hagerty quotes a figure of around $19,000 for a #2 example, while perfection pushes the figure to approximately $28,000. In one of those seemingly rare moments, it appears that Hagerty figures align with recent sales results. To achieve the higher price, the new owner faces a nut-and-bolt process to achieve the required standard. That is where they must make difficult decisions. Paying a professional to undertake the work will undoubtedly see costs blow out to the point where the project isn’t financially viable. However, if the new owner can complete all or most of the work themselves, they shouldn’t strike any financial grief. Is that enough to convince you to pursue this Mercury further?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Harvey HarveyMember

    Looks to be jacked up. Would look better at original ride height.

    Like 8
    • Geoff C

      Agreed! Might have air-shocks in it, all pumped up.

      Like 2
  2. CadmanlsMember

    It’s got an aftermarket hood lock on it to protect that 289, maybe the battery. Have to agree that the rear is sitting a bit higher than it should. Maybe air shocks, still good start for a nice cruiser, maybe add a couple ponies under the hood. Clean up the interior and cruise.

    Like 4
  3. RGSmith1

    I had the XR-7 version. Dark green with white leather interior. 302 with a 3 speed. Buddy had the same drive train in a 68 Mustang. We both agreed the Cougar was a better ride. Should never have sold it. Like everyone else, hind sight is 20/20.

    Like 13
    • BoatmanMember

      RG, I had the exact same car except automatic. One of my all time favorites.

      Like 3
  4. gippy

    Sequential tail lites were a hot thing- There was a little motor that spun a contact around to make them work.

    Like 3
  5. BoatmanMember

    Car has been painted, at least inside the doors. May not be original color.

    Like 5
  6. Greg B Greg BMember

    More like 145,000 miles IMO.

    Like 3
    • Jeff DeWitt

      Agreed, that’s not the engine compartment of a 45,000 mile car. The engine compartment of my 96 Jeep XJ with 600k looks better than that.

      Like 1
  7. Big C

    They may be fudging on the milage. But you’re not going to find another one this solid, for less.

    Like 4
  8. z28th1s

    There is plenty of rust on this car! The lower trunk lid, around the back glass, at the corner of the driver’s door jam. I’m sure a closer inspection will turn up more rust.

    Also the general rule is 100 pounds is equal to one tenth at the drag strip. So 148 pounds is equal to about .15 seconds not .6 seconds as quoted.

    Like 0
  9. Guardstang

    Like its Mustang cousin you have to make sure the cowl vent intakes are not rusted.

    Like 0
    • T. Pond

      I have 7 Mustangs; 1 ’65, 2 ’66’s, & 4 ’67’s, and have had to replace cowl vent intakes on 6 of them. I would bet on having to replace them on this Cougar unless they have already been replaced.

      Like 1
  10. Demonsteve

    Nice car, then I started looking closer at the location of the rust, I can almost guarantee there’s more rust you can’t see than what’s showing. Good price but to much work for me.

    Like 4
  11. Rick

    Not bad looking for 56 years old. Had that same drive train in my 65 Stang. Drove it from Detroit to Naples, Fla. upon graduation. Very smooth. I live in Charlotte, about 45 minutes from this car. I’m tempted to go & look!

    Like 1
  12. Michael Brillard

    I just love it when they put lipstick on a pig! They drag it out of the barn and paid the air cleaner completely incorrect color because they probably paid about $3000 for the car. Don’t get me wrong it’s a decent car but if you’re gonna drag it out of the barn, just leave it alone.

    Like 3
  13. Howie

    Seller has 606 items listed, mainly all parts.

    Like 2
  14. Dave D

    I believe this Cougar has much rust as well. when you look at the tops of the inner fenders I see rust perforations on both sides the door jambs rust have been poorly disguised. The paint is a change of colour, it looks like it’s original may have been Yellow or Gold. IMO this car is in need of $25,000 worth of work to bring it to a #2 if the engine is fine. It has at least 145,000 miles and shows it. I would not pay a dime over $7,500.00 for it. I like the previous comment of putting lipstick on a pig and agree with his assumption.

    Like 3
  15. Daleone3

    Very appealing from a price perspective though this will take some work and lots of money. The truck lid is rotted thru as well as the header panel, the area in the lower rear of the drivers side jam looks pokey and that what you can see, what can’t you see. The paint looks like it was spray bombed or may it was an Earl Sheib special (If you know, you know). Once a grinder hits that car, I suspect a good bit hidden rust will surface and for what? A plain jane cougar? Great entry price, buy it, drive it but ya gonna have to write alot of checks to get this one back or take it apart yourself so it can sit in the garage and never get finished.

    Like 3
  16. T. Pond

    It’s not too far from me, but I don’t think I would be interested at anywhere close to the BIN price since it is a base model with a 289.

    Like 0
  17. Pappy

    I had a 68’ XR-7 with a 302 automatic. Great car! Leaf springs were gone and it sat real low in the back so I put in air shocks to make it sit higher. Sold it to my best friends little brother. Wish I still had it!

    Like 1
  18. tiger66

    Had a ’67 for a decade (1977-87) bought from the original CA owner. Bench seat car, same powertrain as this one and optioned with power steering, power front disc brakes (a must-have IMO) and factory A/C (ditto). Nice car but nothing special to drive. Cougars weigh about 300 pounds more than an equivalent Mustang so don’t perform as well with the same engine.

    It would be hard to get any ROI from this car at the BIN price once you spent the money needed to refurbish it. A very nice ’68 with A/C has been for sale locally in the $20-25k range for the past month with no takers. It is much, much cleaner than this car. You couldn’t get this one anywhere close to its level for the price difference so the BIN looks optimistic at best.

    Like 0

    All 1967 and 1968 Cougars with a small block (289 or 302) engine left the factory with an 8″ rear axle. Only the big block (390, 427 or 428) engine were factory equipped with the 9″ rear axle. So unless someone did a swap this car will have an 8″ rear axle.

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.

Barn Finds