Big Cat: 1979 Mercury Cougar XR-7 Restovivor

Not quite original, but really nice, this 1979 Mercury Cougar represents the last of the big Cougars before the downsized version debuted in 1980. Not only that, but it’s the identical color scheme as the one featured in the factory brochure for 1979, even down to the two-tone interior. This really nice looking car can be found in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania and is listed for sale here on eBay. You can either bid on it and take your chances against an opening bid of $4,999 without a reserve, or jump the queue and buy it now for $6,750.

This car has the “Chamois Decor” trim package, which I’m guessing accounts for all the light brown vinyl and plastic parts. You may be thinking that the vinyl top looks terrific–it does, but that was replaced at some point. Both it and the paint look great, though. The seller cautions that there are some scuffs in the plastic parts but there’s no rust at all. The car was babied for its first 20 years in Nevada and then babied some more in Pennsylvania. You can tell the owner was enthusiastic about the car by the stack of auto show placards that come with the Cougar, as well as a lot of documentation of maintenance and upgrades.

You can see the underside of the car is every bit as clean as the top. I’m pretty sure those aren’t the original mufflers, but I’ll bet the 351 V8 sounds pretty good through them.

Interesting story on the wheels: they are not what most of you probably think–these are Polycast wheels, painted plastic molded to a regular steel wheel, then fitted with a stainless steel trim ring, chromed lug nuts and a plastic center. For a while you saw them on a lot of cars; apparently at the time they were less expensive than aluminum wheels.

The interior is gorgeous, although there is one damaged portion on the driver’s side arm rest and some of the plated plastic is starting to peel. So late 1970s!

While I can’t say I would have gone for the yellow wires from a cosmetic point of view, the fact that they are Ford Racing wires, along with the valve covers, is a further indication that this car got babied. That’s an Edelbrock manifold under that Edelbrock air cleaner, and I’ll bet it’s an Edelbrock carburetor under that air cleaner. All in all, I think this is a great car, and where else are you going to get that much style and class for this price?

I think it would be great fun to recreate this scene from the factory brochure as closely as possible. Of course, I’d need the car, some boats, and a good place to do it–but I’d have a great time cruising in the Cougar to find that spot!

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Sam

    This was the bomb when I graduated high school. A neighbor of ours had a Cougar like this and a 79 T Bird Heritage Edition. The polycast wheels went well into the 80s with Ford.

    • Graeme

      I know of not one, but TWO collections of ‘79 Heritage Editions (and one ‘79 XR-7 in this colour scheme IIRC) here, within a couple blocks of one another. They total about 12 at last count. Can’t imagine two hoarders in such close proximity of one another, but if it’s one person, they’re pretty serious about these classics.

  2. Jaygryph

    For what these are, the LTD II based fords and mercury models were really pretty nice driving cars. I had a 78 4 door sedan with machineguns bolted to the fenders as a mad max type car. Put a lot of miles on it, kinda sad that I cut the roof off, though it was a fun convertible for a few summers. Shame this body style wasn’t available as a convertible.

    • Lord Humungous

      I would love hot rod one of those LTD II s. A coupe. The local cops back in the 70s had them. Green.
      Smooth and great lines.

    • Graeme

      If you cut the roof off if it, it really wasn’t a convertible…just a roofless car.

  3. Jaygryph

    I just felt I should add, despite what many who grew up with these as just average cars may say, I think these will pick up a decent following and see some moderate value increases in the coming years.

    They have some style to em with their unusual and flamboyant designs. I love the grill and fenders on the front of the cougars. It’s very lincolny and aggressive big car lookin’.

  4. Moxman

    This car must have a pretty nice growl with an Edelbrock intake system and Flowmaster mufflers?

  5. R. Todd Rothrauff

    I’ve always loved the lines of the 1977-79 T-Birds and Cougars, and the 1977-79 Lincoln Mark V. The styling is virtually flawless . . .

  6. Don H

    The engine looks like a 351m ,not a windsor

  7. Cheif

    I luv this body style it’s a luxury car with style at least[ that’s my take for whats it worth] I like the color but the interior is ok but not my favorite. I would like to buy her but it’s across the country. Some lucky buyer looks like they will get a fine ride.

  8. cyclemikey

    Style and class? Seriously? This overwrought barge is the epitome of mediocre, malaise-era MEH.

    Were you there? It was a time of despondency for car guys – gone were the classic muscle cars of the late sixties and early seventies, leaving us with gaudy, tacky, emissions-choked caricatures of the names we’d grown to love.

    I’m a champion of the oddball and the under-loved as much as the next guy, but this………….this monument to bad taste is just an awful joke.

    • Mlaw

      Amen!

    • Graeme

      Thanks for your oh-so-illuminating opinion, and I’m so glad I don’t share it with you.

      Like 1
  9. gerald@gocomedy.net

    AH … AH … AH …. staying alive
    Graduating in 1978 and new car shopping in summer 79…. these were red hot! Sure zero to sixty is anemic.. but the trunk is huge, the looks slick and the ride decent!
    Man, wish me had one now, pretty brunette next to me, Blondie n Cheap Trick on the eight track !💥

    Like 2
    • Graeme

      For me, it would include lots and lots of early George Thorogood and Bon Scott-era AC/DC, too! MP3’s on an updated stereo, though lol

  10. Mark

    My pimp car…..1978…bought new.

    Like 2
  11. W9BAG

    Shame that a floor mounted shifter wasn’t part of the XR-7 package. I can appreciate this body style, but compared to 2nd and 3rd generation Cougars, it was a sign of the beginning of the end.

  12. jw454

    My brother had the Thunderbird version of this car. It was our ride of choice when a road trip was planned. Great ride and so smooth. His had a 302 cu. in. and, as I recall, got about 23~24 M.P.G. on the highway. That was very good for a car that was this heavy.

    Like 1
    • Jaygryph

      Yeah, they got about the same mileage as my 2010 truck, which ain’t bad at all. I loved mine for the road trips. People go on about horsepower and torque, but like, does anyone care about being physically comfortable and driving something you personally like despite popular trends, or is it all just showing off and being flashy.

      Like 1
      • Graeme

        It’s called “small man syndrome”, or overcompensation. Sure there are about 25 high performance 60’s-80’s Mustangs, AMX/Javelins, , Cougars, etc that I’d love to have, but I’d equally love to have something like this to cruise for an ice cream in the summer. Hell, my first car was a 258-powered ‘78 AMC Concord that my Mom bought new, and my Dad now owns (and had fully restored), and I love summer drives with it!

  13. Vinrod

    This is my Mercury Cougar chamois edition with matching midnight blue interior and a 400ci engine. Iit is an export model originally from Belgium but owned by me for the last 30 years in the UK.

    Like 3
  14. David Miraglia

    last of the land barge era pre downsize. Hell I liked these and the T birds as well as the Mark Five. Sure the emissions were stifled, but I liked them anyway.
    They were best as Gaudy boulevard cruisers.

    • Graeme

      I’d love a Mark V—but I don’t have the acres needed to park one lol

  15. Mark P

    Cops in my town had the LTD II’s too. Yellow, we called them banana boats. I worked a stereo shop in the late 70’s, can’t remember how many stereos, speakers and CB’s I installed in these and all the other variants of it there were. Real popular cars. Though by today’s standards a Corrola has more room inside and horsepower.

    • Graeme

      None of the style, tho. Just generic, vanilla design.

  16. Rob Member

    I bought a brand new 78 my senior year in college. Loved it too. It was green with the chamois top.

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