Big Cat Survivor: 1978 Mercury Cougar XR7

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This really nice looking survivor Cougar must have been loved it’s whole life. It’s currently located in North East Maryland (that’s a real location name), and is up for sale here on eBay. The buy-it-now is a somewhat odd $10,987.63 but bids are being accepted lower than that. This car makes an interesting comparison with the 1978 Thunderbird we recently featured.

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This generation Cougar is very similar to the Thunderbird, with the major differences cosmetically being the B-pillar treatment, trunk lid and grille. The wheels were even identical polycast (plastic molded over a steel rim as an imitation of aluminum wheels) versions.

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The seller claims that this is all original paint. The original documentation with the car shows that it was purchased in Florida, but it must have been garaged to stay in this condition. The seller actually says it’s been in a “museum” collection for the past 20 years, but has been driven recently and is in outstanding condition.

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The interior is a striking red and white combination, although the black center console surprises me (I would expect it to be red). Does anyone know if that’s original? The dash appears to be uncracked and with 27,637 miles I guess it should look this nice!

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The 351 should have plenty of life left in it, and looks the part, although a good detail would go a long way under the hood. I’d want to know if fluids, hoses and belts have been changed and if the air conditioning works before thinking seriously about placing a bid. What about you–what do you think about this low mileage big cat?

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Comments

  1. jaygryph

    Love it.

    And here’s why. http://imgur.com/a/qVj59

    I too have owned a 78 cougar. A 4 door sedan (because why not, Mercury, just badge engineer everything why don’t you).

    The story is in the gallery, but a large part of my life was spent enjoying the 78 Merc.

    Gutless, yeah.
    Ugly, yeah, but at least it’s not an LTD II nose.
    Smooth riding and a great highway cruiser, oh yeah. I very much miss driving that stupid car now that it’s gone too far mangled to be road trippable. Some day, I’ll have another. I really want a 78 Cougar wagon, but may have to build one out of an LTD II wagon with my old Cougars rebuilt nose.

    Greatly underappreciated cars.

    This red one is crackpipe price I think, but it IS a nice looking car. Some day these will be worth it, and it may be worth it to someone overseas. You can buy nice ones on CL still for $1200 if you just want a plush driver with a face like a battering ram.

  2. Bob's your uncle

    I worked in an L-M dealer when that body style was new and remember looking at a baby blue Mark on the showroom floor with a $16k price tag on it and thinking man how can a car be that expensive … and now today there are basically NO cars priced that low.

  3. grant

    I has the twin to this car, nowhere near as nice. Bought it from my father in law for $250 and used it to tow a 17 foot boat.

  4. Todd Zuercher

    I’m just amazed there are models of this car (and the T-Bird) still in mint condition.

  5. juwald knightlly

    these are sweet, they just say DISCO! adore the big interiors and the styling is decent
    they cruise and cruise and that engine bay is ready for a big block swap out OR put in a turbo, would have to re do brakes

  6. 64 bonneville

    The buckets and console were an option on them and Thunderbirds. Typically the console is color coordinated with the rest of the interior. I have seen the console in red, black, blue and yellow, corresponding with the interior or exterior paint scheme.

    Like 1
  7. AMCFAN

    I commented on the Thunderbird and was happy to see it. I know these cars pretty well. I hate to say. My dad ordered a new Cougar in 1977. Amazing to think today that you could do that. Dealers get on the net and find it today.

    He went to the FLM dealer and checked off every option minus the $1600 power moon roof. He dictated every aspect. The Quadraphonic 8 track sound system with the cool purple tapes was $750.The optional fuel capacity tank was actually sourced from a Lincoln. Found that out. The 60/40 power buckets had an automatic interlock. When the door opened there was a loud electrical click. The seat would fold up so you could access the rear seat without bending over to pull up the seat release. Had the machine finished dash overlay and full gauge package including the tach. It is really amazing all the options on these that were available. Every time I look at one today I compare it to my fathers car. For fun a few years ago I ran a Marti on it and out of 200,000 Cougars built is was one of 900.

    Never have been a Ford fan. I will say this. It has been the most reliable vehicle. For a 1970’s American car. It never failed to start or left the family stranded. The 351 Modified has never been apart and would later use 1/2 a quart of oil between 7000 mile oil changes. Dad used what ever oil was on sale. It didn’t matter to the Cougar. The converters were never taken off and were still working. He kept a log on it and kept track of everything even when he put gas in it. He used the mile meter to know when it needed gas. He always parked it at the end of a lot and walk a mile. He would always look back as he walked away. He loved it. It was one of my fathers favorite vehicles. He would keep a car a few years and trade it in. That was until the Cougar. He had planned on turning it back over to Ford when it hit 300K miles with a note saying thanks for a good car! Sadly he retired from work and retired the car. It has 280K miles and has never left his heated garage since.

    Only issues in 280K miles were the valve covers would always leak. Replaced them with aluminum and $50. Ford rubber over steel gaskets. Problem solved. I know he bitched at the $50. haha. It has had 4 radiators. Debris builds up on the lower tank and rots out. Two fuel tanks. First was used then an NOS unit. Not sure if a flaw but would collect debris on the top and rust out. Besides general maintenance tires/ muffler and tail pipe. One modulator valve stuck on the C4 blowing out trans fluid. Several trans filters. A few choke pull offs. A set of universal joints. That’s it.

  8. Vince Habel

    us 40 and MD 272

  9. jim s

    no longer has a BIN. this car looks great also. again you can always make an offer. i think both this and the t-birb would make nice drivers. nice find

  10. Frank S

    That console is DEFINITELY not correct. Nothing in the Marti mentions a console and its always color coordinated. It is a bucket seat car with a floor shift and NO console from the factory

    Like 1
  11. Jay Calk

    This is not a Cleveland engine it is a 351 2V Windsor motor. Think the last year for the Cleveland was 74? Not sure on the year.

    • james burton

      that is a clevland eng. windser block with clevland heads. my motherinlaw had one same year as this one but it was mint green with dark mint green int. we put a 400 modifyed in it when the 351 got tyred. had to change trannie and all. my brother took the old running gear to fla. and got big bucks for that stuff. a smallblock c6 trannie $400. they tore the eng. apart and it had 4 bolt mains and a nod. iron crank and rods. i think he got 8 bills out of the eng. and this was in the late 80s.

    • Michael Flynn

      Ummm, it’s a 351M (modified cleveland), not to be confused with the original cleveland. The early 70s cleveland with the 4V heads were a great foundation for a all out race engine. Sadly the modified used heavy pistons and rods which hindered the engine from achieving any high RPMs, and consequently wore out the upper half of the main bearings causing these beast to lose oil psi

  12. Jim Marshall

    I had one of these in 1980, a 78 I purchased used. Same car as the Bird but I liked the looks of the Cougar better. It had a 302 that was adequate to propel this car but nothing more,

  13. Ronniecarlo

    A 4 door Couger? Sounds like the time I went to one of my local parts store for an inner door handle for one of my Monte Carlo’. I was asked “2 or 4 door” ….clap.. Lol

  14. Mark

    I bought one new.
    Had a moon roof, too.

    Had a friend pinstripe the rear quarter windows, and naturally, had my initials on the driver’s door.

    I added the driving lights.

    It was quite the “pimp car”.

    Like 1
  15. piper62j

    I restored one of these for a friend way back in the day.. Loved it.. Smooth and quiet.. He kept it for years till his divorce and had to sell it.

    Money in the pocket and the X is gone!!!

  16. randy

    Montego 4 door? I never heard of a 4 door Cougar either.

    • Jason Houston

      Yeh, they made 4-door Cougars. It was what finally killed the line… an insult to the true Cougars, 1967-1970. The marque should have been euthanized after 1970. Everything after that was just motorized bedroom furniture.

  17. Ronniecarlo

    Randy, I looked at that link. Montego or an Elite.Pic isn’t clear enough. I admit I am far from an expert.’78-’79-’88-’96 XR-7s but by far no expert. And who had the jewels to mention an ltd too terrible of a car.

    • randy

      LTD II, another “car” easily forgotten.

    • Jason Houston

      The LTD II was about the most dreadful car Ford made in the 70s.

  18. Galaxie Greg

    Engine looks like 351M or 400M. Its no 302.

  19. 427vette

    Nice car, but he is a flipper. It was in Pennsylvania for sale on ebay back in October from the long term owners collection, where the high bid was $4500 and change. He had it listed on the bay about two weeks later, and this is his 3rd go around trying to sell it. Nice of him to take it off the trailer, but he could have a least removed the vehicle description written on the side window from previous owner.

    Like 1
    • randy

      There will be a day in the not too distant future that the unwise flipper will get stuck holding the bag. Just like the home flippers.

      Like 1
      • Jason Houston

        Fortunately, that day has already arrived for many craigslist flippers. Just look at how many weeks their crap is still running. If a car is priced right, it should sell within two days. If not, it’s going to make a rough customer in the bedroom.

  20. piper62j

    The 5th digit shows the engine to be a 351c – 2v..

  21. PRA4SNW

    Yep, they made 4 door Cougars. When we were teens in the early 80’s, my buddy had a ’77, white with a red Landau roof and 302 (IIRC).
    I thought it was weird that it had 4 doors – you never saw them that way, except as an LTD.

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