69k Original Miles: 1968 Mercury Cougar XR7

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By 1968, the pony car war was in full swing. Most American manufacturers wanted a slice of the pie. Against a background of initial misgivings from Ford management, Mercury joined the party in 1967 with its Cougar range. The XR7 was the performance variant, with this 1968 model emerging during the second production year. It isn’t perfect, but it is a solid survivor the new owner could choose to preserve or restore. The seller listed it here on Craigslist in Riverside, California. It could be yours by handing the seller $14,500, and I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder MattR for spotting this solid classic.

I’ve examined the supplied photos of this Cougar and admit it has left me scratching my head. Due to the prevailing light during the photo shoot, I can’t decide whether its panels wear Polar White or Diamond Blue paint. The seller provides no guidance but does claim the paint is original. It isn’t perfect, but its overall condition is in keeping with a survivor-grade car. There are marks and scratches, but nothing requires immediate attention. The contrasting Black vinyl top is in good order, although it would benefit from a treatment to improve its overall appearance. The new owner could perform a light cosmetic refresh to recapture the Cougar’s lost youth, but preservation is viable. The panels are straight, and life in the Californian climate means this gem is rust-free. The tinted glass and trim are in good order, although the wheels are a later addition. I believe they are Cragar Chrome Smoothies, but the new owner could swap them for something more appropriate if they prefer originality.

You need to climb aboard a Cougar to appreciate the difference between it and its Mustang cousin. The buyer receives lashings of faux woodgrain, a console, and significantly more sound-deadening material for a quieter motoring experience. Throw in air conditioning and a factory tach, and life inside this Cougar would be pretty pleasant. This could be this classic’s highlight because there is no evidence of wear or physical abuse on any Blue upholstered surfaces, the carpet, or the headliner. The dash is excellent, but a cover prevents us from assessing the pad. Someone has added an aftermarket shifter knob and a radio/cassette player. As with the wheels, reversing the changes is plausible.

While Mustang buyers could order their new toy with a six under the hood, the Cougar was strictly V8 territory. The entry-level engine in 1968 was the 302-2V, producing 210hp and 295 ft/lbs of torque. The original owner decided to leave shifting duties to a three-speed automatic while adding power assistance for the steering and front disc brakes. The journey down the ¼-mile took 16.8 seconds, and placing that into perspective, a 302-equipped Mustang took 15.9 seconds for the same trip. The difference is apparent but noteworthy, considering the XR7 is more than 10% heavier than the slightly more powerful ‘Stang. This Cougar is a numbers-matching survivor, with the seller claiming it has 69,000 original miles on the clock. They don’t mention supporting evidence but say the car drives extremely well. If you fancy flying out for a Californian holiday and driving home behind the wheel of a classic, this XR7 could make that dream a reality.

The initial reception for the Mercury Cougar was beyond the company’s expectations, but sales dropped significantly from 150,893 cars in 1967 to 113,726 in 1968. Of those, 32,712 buyers handed over the extra cash for the XR7 variant. How many survive is unknown, but few are likely as original and solid as our feature car. Enthusiasts spent years largely ignoring the Cougar, with most buyers preferring its Mustang cousin. However, values are climbing significantly as potential buyers recognize the relative rarity of these cars against equivalent models wearing a Blue-Oval badge. The price of this XR7 looks highly competitive, and interested parties might need to act quickly. It has been on the market for a short time, but I believe someone will snap it up pretty quickly. Could that person be you?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    Thanks Adam. I think the 67-68 Cougars really hit the mark as a stylish, upscale pony car. I’d call the XR-7 the luxury variant. This looks like a solid example. I’d go back to the standard shift knob, and to me the smoothy-look wheel treatment is out of character for the car. But these are easy changes.

    Like 27
    • Stan

      Heres a mild wild Cougar


      Like 12
      • BoatmanMember

        Man, there’s nothing mild about that! Love it!

        Like 9
      • John D

        Ohhh hell yeah! That Cougar is sick, wouldn’t take long to get arrested in this one.

        Like 0
    • Richard Velasco

      I agree. The wheels need to be changed to a more representative style of the time. Say an American Mag wheel. 5 spokes. Basic but clean. The body paint changed to a medium blue.

      Like 0
  2. Woofer WooferMember

    Sorry Adam, I agree with Bob. XR7 means fancy Cougar, not muscle. I believe guys usually ordered the 390 GT version in the plain jane Cougar. I could be wrong, but you either wanted fancy or fast. I would rather have the XR7 with a 302 but I have always leaned towards the fanciest vehicle I could find, i.e. 1982 Bronco XLT Lariat. And where are the chrome XR7 emblems on the side of the roof?

    Like 7
  3. TorinoSCJ69

    Owned a ’68 xr7, GT 390, 4 speed from ’78 – ’82 but the car was abused and I was young.
    Many tired runners from the ’60’s around.
    Cougars had their own style.

    Really loved the 4 speed but spent ownership getting it back it shape. Drove to college and long trips – miss it.
    Buddy had a gold one bought in 1980, this year model with 302 2v and loved it.

    This looks to be a good buy.

    Like 5
  4. BoatmanMember

    Already gone. And those are leather seats, btw. Very comfy.

    Like 7
  5. Mike76

    Well, someone snapped it up as the ad is gone. Every time I see these Cougars I am reminded of a high school buddy of mine who loves these cars. Only a few years after high school, he already owned two, both 69’s. One was his daily cruiser, an XR7 vert, blue with blue interior and white top. The second, the weekend stop light warrior, a white with black interior, no vinyl top 428 CJ sitting on stock Cougar wire wheel covers and white walls. That Cougar was truly the Tomcat on the block. He liked to work on his cars and he added a few speed parts to the 428 including 4.30 traction lok rear gears. That 428 was something else. Surprised more than a few people with its non-assuming trim. I remember him buying that 428 Cougar in 1996 for the princely sum of $5500…for a 21 year old cutting meat at a local deli, that was a lot of money. Good investment though. He ended up selling the vert and replaced it with another hardtop 69, but the 428, he owns it to this day, in pretty much the condition he bought it in, minus new carpet and he occasionally swaps the wire wheel covers and white walls out with 69 rallye wheels and RWL tires. I wish I would have spent my money so wisely as a 21 year old.

    Like 13
  6. CCFisher

    I believe this Cougar is painted Diamond Blue. Compare the car to the white garage doors and trim on the house in the background of the last photo. The car has a blue tint in comparison.

    Like 3
    • Bruce Holberg

      Right. This is a repaint, though. No standard pinstripes. That being the case, one doesn’t know whether or not it’s even a factory color.

      Like 0
    • scott8313

      Same as Pastel Blue used on Mustangs

      Like 0
      • Bruce Holberg

        No such color as Pastel Blue. It is (maybe) Diamond Blue. Same name Mercury/Mustang. Code N.

        Like 0
    • sakingsbury20

      I agree the car isn’t white, but neither is the garage doors or trim on the house, that’s beige, although the window sash of the one window visible is white…..JS

      Like 1
      • CCFisher

        That’s ok. Polar White (Wimbledon White on Fords) wasn’t a pure white. It had yellow tones.

        Like 0
  7. tiger66

    BF: “You need to climb aboard a Cougar to appreciate the difference between it and its Mustang cousin. The buyer receives lashings of faux woodgrain, a console, and significantly more sound-deadening material for a quieter motoring experience.”

    Uh, no. You got the sound deadening in every Cougar, but not the console. It was standard on the XR-7 but an extra cost option on the base car. And the faux woodgrain was XR-7 only.

    As for the XR-7 luxury vs. muscle argument, that is a false dichotomy as you could get the 390 GT engine in the XR-7, giving you both muscle and luxury. A co-worker of mine in 1976 had a ’67 optioned that way. At the time, I owned a ’67 base car with front disc brakes, factory air and no console.

    Like 4
    • BoatmanMember

      My ‘ 68 XR7 did not have a console.

      Like 3
      • tiger66

        You are correct — the console was optional even on the XR-7 in ’67 and ’68 per the sales brochures. The writeup here indicates it was standard, though.

        Like 3
  8. Scrapyard John

    I like these more than the first Generation Mustangs. You just don’t see these as much. Looks like a pretty decent deal on that car. I’m not surprised it’s already gone. A guy in town has a very similar car, but it is rough! I’ve never seen it out of his driveway.

    It would look decent with some torque thrust wheels on it (IMO) if an original set of wheels couldn’t be sourced.

    Like 3
  9. t

    The lines don’t look right . The Gaps in the door lines an the front end

    Like 0
    • Bruce Holberg

      Good doesn’t fit correctly, left door ditto. Crease behind left rear wheel cut. Still, better than a lot that you see on line

      Like 1
      • Bruce Holberg

        That’s “Hood” doesn’t fit

        Like 1
    • mick

      My dad bought one in 1968, same color, 302, automatic, no console, XR7. It had just ticked over 100k when I got it in 1978. The leather driver’s seat was crinkled and cracking. All the other seats looked great. There were only two problems I ever remember having with it. One was the shifter button kept breaking, so I ended up taking the handle off and shifting with the ball end of the wire (never replaced it). The other problem was the driver side door always sagged, even before I got it. The car was my dads primary transportation, rarely carrying more than just himself. I think the doors were too heavy for the mounting hardware and created a sag, especially on the driver side which got the most use.

      Like 0
  10. Dave D

    Love to see these Cougars and I believe that who ever bought this one stole it. $14,000.00 was a very good deal for a survivor that just needs a little refreshing. I would change the shifter back to an original style, as for the wheels I would choose something else.
    I have a 1970 Base model that was originally a 351 now a 428 brakes upgraded to Wildwood discs all around MSD ignition and Weld wheels. I personally like the style of the 1970 best interior and exterior but the tail-light of the 67 & 68 over the 69 – 70 lights.

    Like 1
  11. Lincoln BMember

    Question. My 1968 Cougar had a 289 4 spd, did the engine change to 302 during the year? Was non RX7 with console.

    Like 1
    • Dave D

      Yes Mustang and Cougar started out with 289s and mid year 302s.

      Like 1
  12. Lincoln BMember

    Thanks Dave, I will say that it has never been important to me to have the fastest car just fun and the 289 was just that and I thought it was peppy!

    Like 2
  13. Lance

    Loved the styling of the Cougar but my trip down memory lane hit a deadend as the listing was deleted by the author.

    Like 1
  14. Mountainwoodie

    I had a ’69 convertible…sold it for 700 bucks in 1976…mint,,,.lol….700 bucks….about 3600 bucks today. I never would have imagined that car “values” would outpace government generated inflation.

    Another thing “my” generation screwed up :)

    Like 0

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