Drive It Home: 1968 Mercury Cougar XR7

The Mercury Cougar is a car that came perilously close to not existing. It seems that Mercury management could not initially convince Henry Ford II that the model would be financially viable when pitched against the Mustang. However, by producing a car with trim levels that were one rung above those offered by Ford in their iconic pony car, the Cougar successfully carved its own niche in the market without cannibalizing Mustang sales. This 1968 Cougar XR7 is from the model’s second year of production and is a survivor that is structurally sound and in excellent mechanical health. The owner claims that the buyer could catch a flight to its location in North Port, Florida, and comfortably drive it home. If that sounds too tempting to resist, you will find the XR7 listed for sale here on eBay. Solid bidding has seen the price sail past the reserve to sit at $16,000.

This Cougar makes a positive impression in its original Lime Frost with a Black vinyl top. It seems that looks aren’t deceptive because while it isn’t perfect, it remains an impressive survivor. The paint holds a respectable shine, with no flaws or blemishes that may cause the buyer to lose sleep. The panels are straight, and while the owner admits that there is external rust, most of it seems so minor that it is difficult to spot in the supplied photos. My only concern surrounds the vinyl top. It looks tired, but it may respond positively to some TLC with the appropriate products. However, it appears that there might be some bubbles developing under it on the driver’s side rear pillar. I initially dismissed this as a photo flaw, but it seems to be present from several angles. It is something that might be able to be checked as part of an in-person inspection. However, this car’s structural ace reveals itself when we delve below the surfaces. The underside of the Cougar appears to be close to perfect, with no evidence of penetrating rust or prior repairs. Otherwise, the chrome and trim are in good order, the headlamp doors work as they should, and the tinted glass is in excellent condition for its age.

If the Cougar’s exterior raises a couple of questions, that is not the case when we look around at its interior. The green upholstered surfaces appear to be perfect, with no evidence of wear or other problems. The carpet is immaculate, and when I combine these two factors, I wonder whether someone may have treated it to a partial restoration at some point. The dash and pad continue the spotless theme, and the faux-woodgrain is close to perfect. Overall, this interior appears to need nothing beyond a new owner who is willing to treat it with total respect. The owner doesn’t indicate any aftermarket additions, but I don’t believe the unit occupying the factory radio spot in the dash is original. Otherwise, the buyer will receive a full set of gauges and air conditioning that blows ice-cold.

If this XR7 hasn’t provided potential buyers with enough good news, there’s plenty more when we lift the hood. The owner states that it is a numbers-matching classic that features a 302ci V8, a three-speed automatic transmission, power steering, and power front disc brakes. This engine should be delivering 210hp, which is sufficient to cover the ¼ mile in 16.8 seconds. The owner states that he has recently replaced the front calipers, pads, and hoses. He says that the car has no fluid leaks or other issues, and the buyer could drive it home today. I have included a video at the bottom of this article that features the XR7 in action. Its 302 sounds as sweet as a nut, there are no rattles or odd noises, and the primary impression is pretty confidence-inspiring.

For a car that nearly didn’t exist, the Cougar eventually became the company’s mainstay in various forms in a virtually unbroken run from 1967 until 2002. It seems that Ford’s initial misgivings were unfounded because while it never reached the dizzying sales volumes of the Mustang, 113,720 buyers handed over their cash in 1968 alone. Our feature car isn’t perfect, but it is a solid survivor that would need little work to be lifted to the next level. I know that colder weather is now threatening, but spending those cold winter days in the workshop whipping this classic into shape would be a rewarding way to pass the time. If that sounds too tempting to resist, why not join the bidding war?

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Comments

  1. CCFisher

    Lovely car, but why does it ride so high?

    Like 10
    • James Quinn

      Need to ditch the non original side trim. Hopefully the paint under it is still matching.

      Like 4
      • Boatman Member

        You can say that again, James!

        Like 2
      • Doug from MD.

        The trim was a dealer installed option non factory option. Kinda like pin stripes or door edge guards the dealers do today just to raise the price of the car. Some people liked them others hated them. You had to drill holes into the panels to install so you could plan on future rust down the road. Go figure.

        Like 3
      • wuzjeepnowsaab

        That body side moulding was adhesive applied and it was sold through the dealer. In the late 70’s I worked at a rust proofing shop and we did these installs as well as a few other dealer sold customizations

        Like 2
    • James Quinn

      Looks like it has shackles in the back. The small blocks always seem to have a high front end. My GT 390 sits almost perfect.

      Like 5
    • Grumpy

      Shackles

      Like 3
    • Stacy Young

      Probably because it’s from the 60’s.

  2. James Quinn

    Need to ditch the non original side trim. Hopefully the paint under it is still matching.

  3. Paul Sursely

    Non original gauges and I bet this thing was run hard even though it had a 2 barrel.

  4. Rip Andread

    Had at least ten 67 & 68 XR-7s over the years. Far better car than a Mustang – look at the Jaguar-inspired dash and the leather seats. Longer wheelbase, too, so it rode better. Some of mine included a “S” code 67 XR-7 GT (390-4v), a 68 “S” code XR7-G – the real “Gurney,” not the “Dan Gurney special” which was only a rear window decal, and a 68 XR-7 that got a 427 2×4 side oiler and large spline top loader dropped in. Loved all of them, but I don’t want them back.

    Like 6
  5. DaveK

    I bet the leaf springs are worn out/possibly cracked, hence the need for the shackles.

    Like 1
  6. Steve Clinton

    Cougars have never gotten the respect they deserve. This one is a beauty and I’d jump on it if my wife didn’t have me handcuffed.

    Like 7
  7. Frank

    Its always been a nice car. They are rare and hard to find a nice one. Which from the pictures looks pretty dam good. Lucky new owner.

    Like 1
  8. Howie Mueler

    Looks great for the price, ends tonight.

    Like 1
  9. Randy Voinier

    The cockpit switches were the best when I had a ’67 XR7. Only problem was they became brittle and broke apart, just as what I noticed in the video.

    Like 1
  10. JudoJohn

    Ford and Mercury did not have “numbers matching” cars.

  11. tiger66

    Color looks a little “off” for Lime Frost (too dark) so I suspect a repaint. Also, the pinstripes aren’t supposed to turn down at the front like on this car, another sign of a possible repaint.

  12. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $17,100.

    Like 1
  13. john hugh

    13.500

  14. Howie Mueler

    Sold $17,100.

    Like 1

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