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Driving Project: 1970 Mercury Cougar XR-7 Convertible

While 72,343 Mercury Cougars rolled off the production line in 1970, only 1,977 of these cars were XR-7 Convertibles. That represents a pretty low percentage, and finding solid project cars today can be quite difficult. If that’s what you have been trying to do, then your search may be over. This ’70 XR-7 Convertible does appear to be solid and complete, and it’s just waiting to somebody to perform their magic on it. Located in San Antonio, Texas, you will find the Cougar listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding is currently sitting at $7,300, but the reserve hasn’t been met. If you just have to own this car, then you could always hit the BIN button at $13,999.

The owner says that the Cougar has no major dings or dents, and I would tend to agree with him on that. It looks like there is a dent in the rear bumper, along with a small area of rust on the passenger side quarter just behind the wheel, but the rest of it looks quite good. The owner does say that the floors are solid. The owner also says that the car was originally finished in Classic White, but has undergone a repaint in Pastel Blue. The new owner could elect to repaint the car in either color, although it would be interesting to see how well the car presented after a good buff and polish. The only other item that will require replacement is the soft-top. It has a cut in it, and it probably is beyond repair.

The interior of the Cougar is presentable as it is, but there is some work to be done if the new owner is seeking perfection. Some of the vinyl trim is looking baked and discolored and is about one step away from starting to crumble. This is particularly obvious on the backs of the rear seat, and a few spots on the door trims. The center console is broken, the original radio is missing, and the carpet will need to be replaced. I think that the dash would look okay with a good clean, while the pad and wood trim both look pretty good.

The XR-7 rolled off the production line fitted with the 300hp M-Code 351ci Cleveland engine. That engine is no longer in residence, but the news isn’t all bad. The current 351 2-V engine is said to run and drive well, and the original 351, complete with the original, rebuilt carburetor and air cleaner, are included in the sale. Hooked to the current engine is a 3-speed automatic transmission, while you also score power steering, power brakes, and factory air conditioning. The owner suggests that the buyer could drive the car as it is while the original engine is rebuilt, and then reinstall the original. That sounds like a pretty decent plan, and it might be possible to coordinate this with a repaint as well.

With only 1,977 XR-7 Convertibles being built in 1970, this was not what you would call the high-volume Cougar model, but when new, they also weren’t especially rare. However, like so many of their contemporaries, the Cougar was a car that was prone to some major rust issues, and this has seen their numbers reduce at a fair rate. Finding a solid example today is far harder than finding a solid Mustang, Camaro, or Firebird. That might be a good reason for someone to take on the restoration of this car.


  1. redwagon

    Mercury should have made 7 less of these in 1970. My OCD just kicked in.

    Like 9
  2. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Always liked the Cougars better than the Mustangs, had a ‘look’ about them even though under the skin they were kissing cousins. Fix the top and what’s broken and go drive it.

    Like 4
  3. Beaver Prince

    Cougars and Mustangs ARE not kissing Cousins anyone that knows anything about FoMoCo can tell you that!! That being said I would love to have this Great car!!

    Like 3
    • 86_Vette_Convertible

      IMO they are still kissing cousins in that era, same starting point but with different audiences so configured differently. Kind of like the Chevelles, Skylarks, Cutlas etc. that GM put out. The had the same basic starting point and were fleshed out differently depending on the audience and division.

      PS I think I know a little about FOMOCO vehicles having owned one or more pretty much since 1969. Right now I have 3 I drive on a regular basis plus a Vette.

      Like 1

      More like sister cars since they were built on the same assembly line. There are period photos showing the assembly line with both Mustangs and Cougars in the line.

      Like 2
  4. Willard

    In the early seventies, my brother had a cougar of this era. It had a swing away steering wheel that would pop up and to the right to allow you to get in and out of the car.
    I have never seen this option mentioned in a write up here on Barn Finds. Did it really exist or is my mind playing tricks on me?

    Like 4

      The tilt away steering column was a 1960s option. The last year it was offered was 1969. Once the ignition switch was moved to the steering column in 1970 the tilt away option was no longer offered however a regular style tilt column was offered. The tilt away option was offered in Mustangs, Cougars, Thunderbirds and I believe Lincolns.

      Like 3
  5. R Soul

    The 1968 Cougar had the tilt away steering wheel option.

    Like 5

    The carb sitting in the trunk is not the original one for this car. The one in the trunk is a Motorcraft, the original would be an Autolite.

    Like 1
  7. DAVID6

    😲i have a👍warmed over
    1970 scj 429, primed never run😎

    Like 0
  8. Terry Bowman

    I had a 70′ cougar XR7, with the 351 Cleveland 2-V and it ran well. It was one of the best ridding, small cars in it’s time. I also had a different hub cap and sport mirrors. Didn’t want to step on it in a turn or you would be all over the place. The Cougar and Mustang was a similar car as stated, in the chassis, but it’s length was longer a couple inches in the Cougar. The Mustang and geared for the younger crowd, sporty, but could also be less expensive then the Cougar being designed for the older and more wealthy individuals. In this cars condition that I car see in these few photos, I would cap a bid around $8,500.00, with the original motor included. Missing much in the dash and not sure if the seat covers match the door panels as should be. Rust was also a big issue with these Cougars, specially a convertible (with a hole in it). Still a nice car to play with.

    Like 1

      The door panels and seats are correct 1970 XR-7 parts.

      Like 0
      • Terry Bowman

        Yes Cathouse, the style is correct, i was most concern on the color match. May be just the lighting. $8,250.00 was a fair bid for both parties.

        Like 0
      • CATHOUSE

        Well the colors never did match 100% even when new. There are quite a few different materials in the interior and the color would show a little differently on each type of material. And on this particular car who knows how much dirt, dust and other crud is laying on and embedded into those different materials.

        Like 0
  9. TimM

    In my opinion it was the quintessential gentlemans sports car!! They were sporty with a touch of class that no other car had!!

    Like 1
  10. JimmyinTEXAS

    Bid to $8250.00 ended RNM.
    No pictures of the trunk on a convertible gives me pause. but stop! I wasn’t in the market anyway. lol

    Like 0
  11. Vester Skiles

    I had a 1970 XR7. I paid $1800 cash for it in 1975. Gold with leather interior. This looks like a regular Cougar to me not the XR7. Plain old Cougar.

    Like 0

    I had a 70 hardtop. it had highjack bucket seats no console. paid 3600for it in October of 1970.

    Like 0

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