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430 Equipped: 1967 Mercury Cougar GT

The 1960s was undoubtedly the era of the horsepower wars as manufacturers sought to extract performance improvements by shoehorning larger and more potent engines under the hoods of their offerings. Mercury followed the practice by bolting a 390ci V8 into the 1967 Cougar GT. That was how our feature car started life, but it received a recent heart transplant that should provide the ponies to match its stylish appearance. A new owner will undoubtedly treat it to a cosmetic restoration, but it appears they won’t need to spend a dime on its drivetrain. The Cougar is listed here on eBay in Los Angeles, California. The seller set their BIN at $21,000 with the option to make an offer.

Although sharing a common lineage with the Mustang, the First Generation Cougar featured a marginally longer wheelbase and overall length than its Ford cousin. This provided a slight increase in interior space and endowed the Mercury with a noticeably less harsh ride than the Ford. This Cougar appears to be a solid classic, although it is begging for a cosmetic restoration. Its Polar White paint carries a wide selection of scratches and chips, and the fact they are readily visible in the supplied photos confirms it has never been a trailer queen. It is a similar story with the exterior steel, which features bumps, bruises, and minor dents. None are severe enough to justify panel replacement, but a new owner will undoubtedly address these as they strive to return the car to its former glory. It appears the Cougar has spent its life in a dry climate because there are no signs or mention of rust problems. Some trim pieces might be beyond responding to a simple polish, but the tinted glass and original wheels are in good order. However, we must delve below the surface to discover what sets this GT apart from the rest.

The VIN confirms this Cougar rolled off the line equipped with the S-Code 390ci V8. This brute churned out 320hp and 427 ft/lbs of torque, and when teamed with the three-speed automatic transmission, allowed the GT to storm the ¼-mile in 14.8 seconds on its way to 131mph. The original owner added power assistance for the steering and front disc brakes for a more relaxed driving experience. Okay, this is where things become interesting. The listing confirms the Cougar has clocked around 7,000 miles since receiving an engine transplant. The seller chose another 390 but had it bored to 430ci. It features all-new internals, but the Edelbrock RPM Top End Kit is the crowning glory. This dramatically improves breathing, with the company conservatively listing a power output of around 420hp. They didn’t want this powerplant to go “the full Chernobyl,” upgrading the cooling system to cope with the additional load. They also rebuilt the power steering, suspension, and brakes. The total investment was over $15,000, but the car’s performance seemingly justifies the expense. The seller says there is plenty of power on tap, a claim I find easily believable. It is a turnkey proposition needing no further mechanical work.

The seller describes the Cougar’s interior as original, which seems accurate apart from a radio/cassette player. It is serviceable if the new owner craves instant enjoyment, but the deterioration across some areas might prompt a retrim as part of a high-end build. The driver’s seatcover has split, the carpet is dirty and worn, and the pad has more ripples and splits than the San Andreas Fault. However, a partial restoration could be a valid approach with items like the dash, console, and door trims in good order. The shopping list would include $220 for a carpet set, $770 for a complete seatcover set, and $540 for a replacement pad. With those items installed and the remaining items treated to a deep clean, the overall presentation would be acceptable for a driver-grade classic.

If this 1967 Mercury Cougar GT was an original and unmolested classic, a high-end restoration would yield a potential value beyond $40,000. Perfection could push that figure above $50,000. However, it isn’t unmolested, meaning it falls into a category where it is worth whatever someone is willing to pay. A driver-grade result is achievable in a home workshop without requiring special tools if it is as rust-free and structurally sound as the images suggest. That would minimize the expense on a car that should still command a price north of $30,000 once the work is complete. The BIN figure leaves room to move on the build, but is it enough to tempt you to pursue it further? I will understand if you do.


  1. Mike76

    Other than missing the wheel well trim, the cat looks pretty complete from my brief look-over. Needs some TLC. Would make a great winter project for someone. Always been a big fan of the 67-70 Cougars. I still dream of a 67 non-GT (had 6.5 Litre badges) 390/4 Cougar that I was about $1500 short of owning back in 1993. That 67, light blue exterior and interior with black vinyl top, rallye wheels, was a real beauty. Despite being an avid Olds and Buick enthusiast, that 67 started my love affair with the Cougar. I’ve looked at a few more since but for one reason or another, it never worked out and I have yet to own one. Got to change that one of these days.

    Like 6
    • cold340t

      One that didn’t get away…..back in 1981, 1969 428 Cobra Jet 4spd. $950.00. Found it in the Enterprise classified. Friend bought it and I got to have some very thrilling rides. Until @86/87, drugs sent him down drain and car got parted out. I heard the motor went to local racer “Pony Express” and body no idea.
      I’d love to know what and where that car/motor are today. RG died not long after this. Car was North Oakland terror. Loved hearing it bump started @7am every morning after starter went. Lots of memories! Love Cougars!

      Like 0
  2. Timothy R Herrod

    Never were too many cougars in our part of missouri, had one in the high school parking lot,I always liked the way the turn signals worked. My oldest brother test drove one in the mid 70’s. He didn’t buy it but the kid who did crashed and died soon after he bought it.

    Like 1
  3. JoeNYWF64

    Why this lux MERC cougar has an ancient HAND emerg brake, yet my boxy homely cheap FORD Falcon from late 60’s had a proper FOOT brake makes no sense!

    Like 3
    • Patrick Anderson

      Because it would be way easier to do handbrake turns.

      Like 4
      • JoeNYWF64

        The handbrake on this car is not on the trans tunnel – it is old school – under the dash!

        Like 0

    It looks to me like the car has had at least one repaint as the pinstriping is gone. It is also missing the rear quarter “Cougar” emblems. So were the mounting holes just filled in? Or did the car have quarter panels put on it? The car has definitely had some parts replaced as the left headlight assembly is from a 1968 Cougar. I am not so sure that the wheels are the original ones. An original 1967 styled steel wheel is 5 1/2 inches wide, the wheels on this car look to be wider than that. Perhaps that is just an illusion on my part. It is also missing most of the underhood A/C parts.

    Like 7
    • Denny

      You are right,no AC on a Cal. car. that’s my wife’s favorite car, thought about buying ,but with no AC she would not drive it here in Florida

      Like 3
      • CATHOUSE

        This car does have factory A/C. However at some point in time, probably when all the engine mods were done, it lost most of the underhood A/C parts. Once all those parts are replaced the A/C system could be made to work again.

        Like 2
  5. Thin ice

    .040 is substantial overbore on a ford motor there known for bore shifts in the casting process I wouldn’t buy that without the rebuild paperwork showing that a sonic check was part of the build also do a borescope inspection of the bores, a fool and his money are easily parted

    Like 1
  6. Tony C

    I had to read the article when it said 430 cubes; the only 430 I knew of back then, besides the Buick engine offered that year, was the then-obsolete MEL engine that was used in Lincolns up to 1965 (evolved into 462 by the time the Cougar was born). So, somebody managed to add 40 cubes to a 390? Impressive; I didn’t think there was enough meat on the block to bore that much out. The most I got for my own engine upgrade with 30-over pistons was 6 extra cubes.

    I have to say, I always liked the looks of the first-gen Cougars. I’d probably add that one to my list of wannabuys if I had the cash and real-estate for my imaginary collection.

    Like 9
    • Joe Freeman

      You are of course correct.
      The only way short of an aftermarket stroker kit…if one exists to increase a 390 engine displacement engine to close to 430 was to take a Mercury crank out if a 410 engine drop it in and overbore the engi n e. That would give you around 416 c.i. offset grinding the crank might then have yielded around 430 c.i.
      I have done this on a couple of 390 engines then added oiling mods and top end mods such as 427 lowriser heads and Edelbrock Performer RPM top end components.
      In both cases the redult was hp in the 425 hp snge and torque increases to around 460 480 ft lbs.
      It aint che a p but its less expensive than trying to piece together a 427 sideoiler and boring it .030 which was all you could overbore a 427 hipo block because it was a thinwall casting.
      Even so you have to watch the rpm and limit ut to around 5700 rpm preferably 5500. Or youd lose the bottom end unless you beefed that up because you didnt have the crossbolted main caps and I remium hipo forged bottom end internals.
      But wh as t I described was enough to deal with any 396 or 402 Chev that was stock.
      As a plus if you went with the Edelbrock aluminium heads and intake and headers you had comparatively a very light engine weighing avout what a small block chev weighs.

      Like 6
      • Timothy Dahr

        Many years ago I had a 1967, non GT, 302, low restriction exhaust, highrise intake, small Holley, black vinyl top, dark green Craegar wheels, Gabriel Highjackers, always will miss that car.

        Like 0
    • scottymac

      A stock 428 crank easily pushes a 390 to 410; an aftermarket stroker crank would be the easiest road to 430, I would think.

      Like 3
    • Midway

      The ford 352 block is the mold that can be upgraded and machined to be anything, they were a dime a dozen in the 70’s now a 360,390 comes with a vehicle wrapped around it.

      Like 1
  7. Jack Member

    When I saw the 430 engine I also thought of the1958 MEL engines that came with 2 barrels carbs. Some people did many changes by adding 4 barrel carbs, manifolds, pistons, cams, etc. to increase the horsepower of these smooth-running engines which were designed for low rpms.

    I can remember someone in 1964 who found a car with a 430 Edsel engine and they were going to use it in a car at the local dragstrip. They may have found it was too expensive to use it. Not sure what happened with that idea.

    Like 2
  8. Bob

    Serious core shift wit that thin wall casting I’d want to see the machine shop paperwork showing that a sonic check had been done and torque plates were used during the bore and hone also rent a borescope to physically check all cylinders

    Like 4
  9. TorinoSCJ69

    In ’77 I bought a tired, faded red XR7 GT 390 with 4 speed (I still have 1 fender badge “6.5”) and drove it for the next 4 years to college and a move from Louisville to Atlanta. Absolutely loved that car. Had the PS and PDB, 3.5 open rear and what looked like factory bar traction bars, and the dash toggle switches…. loved that old car. $700. was too much for it at the time when you could do better and still get a 390/428 in numerous big Fords still around, and I was always working on it. Lots of tired 10 yr old BB cars around in late 70’s that were affordable.
    Looked at a ’68 XR7-G (Dan Gurney) but it was out of reach on price.

    This one needs to show paperwork trail and records.
    Be ready to work on it as it probably was driven hard.

    Like 3
  10. Patrick Anderson

    A .060 over bore on my 289 only yielded something like 9 extra cubic inches, and it tended to run hot.

    Like 1
  11. C Force

    It is possible to bore a 390 to 4.13″,same standard bore as the 428.406,410,and 428 all have a 3.98″ stroke.using one of these cranks with the correct length rods is possible to get to 430 cubic inches.would like to see those machine shop receipts,alot of money spent here…A little interior attention looks to be the biggest need on this car.Other than that just drive it the way it is.

    Like 4
  12. BrianT BrianT Member

    I’ve always liked the first gen Cougar more than the Mustang. The next post has a 67 Firebird which I liked more than the 67 Camaro. It might just be because there were less of them.

    Like 3
  13. Re

    Early 80s working at garage in Louisville,a customer had a 390 2barrel, automatic,with studded snow tires on rear year round,used to love test driving that one..

    Like 1
  14. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    From what I see and read, 22K seems to be a reasonable ask for this one.

    Offering 20K would probably get the deal done.

    Like 0

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