Dusty XR7: 1979 Mercury Cougar

This dusty Mercury Cougar XR7 wears a coating of dust like only a Texas barn find can, and its bone-dry body is a sight for sore eyes for folks who live in the Rust Belt. The Cougar is in surprisingly nice shape for a barn find, and the seller is considering getting it back to road-going shape if no one buys it. I can’t say I blame him; the bones here look quite good, and the interior is a treat. The XR7 by this point was gearing for the personal luxury coupe crowd, so go back a few years if you want a muscle car. Find it here on Facebook Marketplace for $3,000 in Amarillo, Texas.

The XR7 could be spotted a mile away with its gold and black paint job and color-matched gold wheels. By this point, Mercury was trying to be all things to all people with the XR7, giving it the racy graphics the muscle car crowd wanted while loading it up with comfort-oriented features inside and luxurious touches like the half-vinyl roof. This represents the fourth generation of the Cougar lineup, with a chassis shared with the Ford Torino of the same era and effectively the luxury-minded sibling to Ford’s Thunderbird. Both cars were shadows of their former selves by this point, with the malaise era in full swing.

The interior of this example is probably the car’s best feature, and provides strong evidence that it was parked inside for its long slumber. Extended exposure in the Texas sun would have rendered this cabin destroyed by now, so this is a rare instance of getting both a super dry Texas body and a nicely preserved interior. The XR7 package got you power steering, power brakes, “Flight Bench” seat, fake wood-style dash inserts, and a few other nice touches. The spare tire hump that adorned the rear of the Cougar was a shout-out to Lincoln Continentals of the era, perhaps again trying to reinforce the XR7’s blend of luxury and performance features.

Unfortunately, performance wasn’t exactly what it was when it came to raw horsepower, as the 400 series V8 peaked at 173 b.h.p. The chassis did get some fine tuning, with four wheel disc brakes, 15 inch wheels, and a rear stabilizer bar all standard on the XR7. Still, you weren’t buying one of these to go corner carving – it was all about cruising. This example looks like a great starting point for the next owner, and with that two-tone paint and color-keyed wheels, it will still draw plenty of eyeballs without having to roast the tires if you’re seeking attention. Would you choose an XR7 or the Thunderbird sibling?

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Comments

  1. BarnfindyCollins

    That is the Chamois trim package seen in midnight blue or the brown Huntsman cloth seen here. Looks like a square deal at 3k.

    Like 9
  2. Dave Mathers

    I ordered one in black with a 460 for a demo. Had the tire shop put some mag wheels and WIDE tires on it. Went to the auto car wash and it tore both left side tires off as the tires were too wide for it. Fun car.

    Like 4
  3. Bob S

    Looks pretty scary under the vinyl top.

    Like 6
  4. Bob C.

    I remember seeing quite a lot of these around in this color combo back in the day. This was the last of the good ones until 1983.

  5. Maestro1 Member

    A design either by hangover or committee. These cars are severely depressed in the market for good reason, but a hell of a buy if you want a driver, which
    this fits perfectly if you can live with the design. Do something about the engine (smaller displacement, more hp) or refine the existing. Good buy.

    Like 2
  6. David G

    The largest engine available in 1979 was the 351. The ’77 and ’78 models had the option of the 400 cid as it’s largest engine. These were never offered with rear disc brakes in this era, only full size Fords, Mercury, and Lincolns had the rear disc option.

    Like 3
    • CCFisher

      Granada and Monarch also offered rear disc brakes as an option.

      • bone

        I thought it was only the Lincoln Versailles that had the rear disc brake option

        Like 1
    • Sean

      Lincoln Versailles had a disc brake 9 inch rear, and was built on the Granada/Monarch platform.

  7. CCFisher

    How do you identify a Ford guy? He calls the accent color “chamois.” Everybody else calls it “orange.”

    Like 3
  8. Milt

    Too many cars pictured on both Barnfinds and BAT are shown covered with dirt, boxes, ad nauseum. Are the sellers actually serious about selling their cars, just too lazy to wash the cars, or am I missing some new used car sales technique?.

    • Farhvergnugen

      Dirt and dust are the new camo. Hides a lot of sins while offering little hope.

      Like 2
    • PatrickM

      I’m right there with you. One of my mantra’s is that if ya wanna sell it, ya gotta show it. Clean it inside and out. Change the oil and air up the tires. so many little things that make a big difference. Take lots of pics. How would they feel if we did the same thing to them? What goes around, comes around.

  9. Bob_in_TN Member

    Sure, by today’s standards and expectations this car, with the Chamois trim, is gaudy and pretentious and poorly packaged and under-performing and a bunch of other derogatory terms. But what a great representation of its era.

  10. Russ

    I had a 77 XR7 in Jade Green, a 78 T-bird and a 78 XR7 with the sa.e package. I can say that these were my favorite cars out of the late 70’s. They rode great, and for the times the handling wasn’t bad.

  11. Bill

    I bought a new cougar xr7 back in 1979. I paid 7500.00 out the door. That was with my Ford employee discount. Great car just underpowered with the 351 windsor engine.

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