Earliest Known Eliminator: 1969 Mercury Cougar

Brian BirknerBy Brian Birkner

Pony cars of the 60’s are cool and well cherished, but the Cougar Eliminator had a growl all of its own with cool flip away headlights and power to boot. With very solid bones, a 351 V8, and a rare factory installed sunroof, this cat is worthy of a restoration as it is thought to be the earliest known Eliminator built based on the sellers Marti report! Also included with the sale of this Eliminator is the buyer’s choice of 5 Cougar parts cars and parts stash! Currently listed with an opening bid of $9,500 no bids have yet to be placed for this muscular Mercury. Check it out here on ebay out of Appomattox, Virginia. A big thanks to Barn Finds reader Clint for this excellent submission!

A correct year 351 lives under the hood but unfortunately it is not original to this Eliminator. Although the original FMX Cruise-O-Matic transmission and rear axle are included. The engine bay is solid with no visible rust or rot, but there are a few items missing. It would seem that at the time this picture was taken, that the front shocks were not installed, or perhaps dangling below for some reason or another. A bit of time invested with a power washer would likely reveal a very reasonable engine bay that would likely need little to no body work.

Partially dismantled, the interior gives a few clues as to some condition concerns with this cat. As mentioned by the seller the passenger floor needs to be replaced as well as the passenger torque box. The driver side is described as being solid, but it would seem the driver floor needs some attention in the foot well at the sheet metal seam. Also the kick panel area is rusty making it seem as if there is a moisture issue either from a rusty or faulty wiper cowl area, or perhaps from a failing windshield seal. The dash is surprisingly nice, looking to be worthy of use again for the restoration. The wiring harness has been pulled from this car for dry storage, but I am curious as to its condition, and if that was the true intention for its removal. Many parts are included with this car, and it would seem that between the parts cars and parts stash that there is enough parts to make this a complete Cougar.

Despite the rust concerns with the floors, this Cougar has an amazing exterior appearance. The quarters are in great condition only displaying minor surface rust and no rot. Also the rockers appear fantastic as well displaying no signs of rust. Overall the body appears great but the only concern with the exterior is that this Cougar was in a fender bender and the front end was bumped. The headlight trim has been replaced, and some minor damage was reported by the seller regarding the radiator support. The hood suffers with some rust along the lower front edge by the trim likely from chipped paint from the bump. As a whole this Cougar is a great project with a lot of positives, including its early build date. Is this early Cougar the pony car of your dreams?

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Comments

  1. Wade Anderson

    The problem my brother had with his 68 was the turn signals on The taillights

    0
  2. flmikey

    This is where I usually say “way overpriced”….but, I will wait to see what y’all say about this one…needs torque boxes, floors, and not matching numbers.. I just don’t get it…

    3+
  3. Tom

    Sure wish I had kept the 1969 Eliminator or the 1970 Eliminator that I owned when I was young.

    3+
  4. JW

    I would rather spend the time to restore one of these than a Mustang of the same year. They just look cooler and have a touch of luxury. Nice find.

    15+
  5. Miguel

    Can somebody please explain why this would be an early Eliminator since it was built in April of 1969, just 5 months before the end of the model year?

    0
    • Clint

      Eliminators were actually mid year models scheduled to be built on 4/1/1969. The Hertz sunroof cars were the first built. This car was built on 4/2/69 and according to the Cougar Club of America; that is the earliest known production date of an Eliminator..

      17+
      • Miguel

        Thank you.

        4+
  6. Mark Member

    Like to see that 4 Door ford pickup in back.

    0
    • Mike_B_SVT

      Send him a message. He is reducing his collection, so possibly willing to make a deal.

      0
  7. Rustytech

    My first thought was that it is way over priced, with all the rust and missing parts. But if the parts car, and a stash of parts included, depending on what’s available, this may not be off the charts. I always thought these were way better looking than the Mustang. I’m not in the market for a project right now I’d be making a trip to VA to look at this one.

    5+
  8. Tommy D

    Might be worth saving for that sunroof (or scavenge it), don’t think I’ve seen one on an early cougar before.

    0
    • Mike_B_SVT

      Mercury built several hundred Cougars with the Electric Sunroof option each year. So they were pretty rare even when new.

      1+
      • CATHOUSE

        The sun roof option was available starting in 1968 and continued until at least 1973 for the Cougar. In 1968 there were a little over 1000 cars with this option. From 1969-1972 the number fell to around 400 each year. Then in 1973 it rose to over 800 cars with this option.

        2+
  9. z28th1s

    This car is about 30 minutes from me. I saw the Ebay ad earlier and have thought about going to check it out. It the other pictures he has a link to in his ad there is a picture of a ’72 Gran Torino Sport parked in the garage behind the Eliminator. The seller could have some more cool cars stashed away.

    4+
    • Tommy D

      Good catch on the ’72 Gran Torino, I missed that the first time…!

      2+
  10. C.keller

    9500 is a lot of money the motor can make the deal Cleveland or winsor

    0
    • CATHOUSE

      The photos clearly show a Windsor. Plus that is the only 351 that was available in 1969. The Cleveland did not come out until the 1970 model year.

      3+
  11. Mike_B_SVT

    I had the pleasure of helping crunch the stats on this one for the seller. However, there is a very slight mix-up in the stated numbers: Hertz ordered 101 Eliminators with the Electric Sunroof option, which was not available on an Eliminator to the general public. The first 100 Eliminators scheduled for production (i.e. assigned VINs) were Hertz Sunroof Eliminators. The first 100 Hertz Sunroof Eliminators are also identically optioned, except for paint and interior color combination. The seller’s car is about the 20th assigned Eliminator VIN and the 3rd lowest VIN currently accounted for, and also has the earliest known build date (meaning there are still about 17 cars with earlier VINs that have not been found yet).

    With only 25 of them currently accounted for, an unusual connection to Hertz, and an otherwise unobtainable combination of factory options (Eliminator + Sunroof), this is why the asking price is what it is. Keep in mind that a few of those 25 are known to have been scrapped or are known only from vintage documents / paperwork. Several of them are also in a condition very similar to the seller’s car (unrestored).

    Hmm… lets look at it another way. Just about any restorable Eliminator is worth $5k. A Cougar sheet metal donor is probably going to run you another $1500 or so. Pile of parts? Call it $1500, if not more (few Cougar parts are reproduced). That puts us at $8k worth of “stuff”, give or take.
    Just keep in mind that most ’69 351 Eliminators in nice-driver condition change hands in the neighborhood of $25k (plus or minus). Add a few $k for sunroof.

    8+
    • Rocco Member

      Do the one’s changing hands have the bottom of the line eng.-trans combo? I would rather say I had a BOSS 302 Eliminator(4-speed) or 428 Eliminator(4-speed or auto), than a Hertz 351-auto with sunroof.

      It’s just my $.02, since I’m an old gear head.

      0
      • Mike_B_SVT

        Most of the cars changing hands for $25k-ish are 351 / FMX automatic cars. That’s also what they built the most of, so it makes sense in a way.
        CJ’s and Boss Cats are typically in the $40k-100k range, depending on condition, and other details.

        0
      • Rocco Member

        Thanks Mike.

        0
  12. Troy S.

    This could be a nice ride in the right hands. Yea, better looking than the mustangs of the same vintage, with the lone exception for me being the BOSS 429 ‘stang.

    0
  13. Mountainwoodie

    The sunroof is a way cool option…..too bad they didnt come with a 4 speed………lots of work there but with unlimited resources doable.

    1+
  14. Nova Scotian

    Had a family member that used to own one. One day somewhere in 1990’s, were cleaning out his garage and we come across this tail fin/ spoiler thingy. He has no idea what car it came off of. He gives it to me, just to see it somewhere other than the garbage. I throught it was so cool I attach it to my 1987 Mercury Marquis trunk. Seriously. We both had no idea about where, or what car it came from….now that I see this picture…the light bulb just went on. LOL.
    …got tons (seriously) of positive comments from car guys, and even I thought it looked cool….but my wife hated it. What an awesome wife to put up with driving a 4 dr mercy marquis with a rear spoiler mounted on the trunk, just like this one! Incredible!

    0
    • CATHOUSE

      Just as an FYI there are many different rear spoilers out there. The 1969 Eliminator rear spoiler is different than the 1970 Eliminator spoiler. And they are both different from the ones used on Mustangs. And then there are ones from the Mercury Cyclone Spoilers. Plus some Mopar cars also had a rear spoiler option.

      2+
      • bog

        Cathouse – I’ll tell you, from a distance, and without any measurements involved, that looks pretty darn close to the rear spoiler that was on my ’71 BOSS 351. Which looked just like the ones on the ’69s and ’70’s…and this.
        I just can’t imagine the Ford/Merc “bean-counters” approving 5 or 6 different spoilers between 2 vehicles. Gonna have to ask a Ford parts guy about this…..

        1+
  15. Mike_B_SVT

    @bog The ’69 Eliminator rear spoiler is unique – it has a 31″ spacing between the pedestals, whereas the ’69 & ’70 Mustang and ’70 Cougar had a 36″ pedestal spacing. The reason has to do with the deck lid on the ’69 Cougar – it had no provision for the addition of the rear spoiler, so the pedestals had to be close enough to only go through the skin of the lid, and not the underside support structure. In ’70 they added “D” shaped cutouts into the support structure, and so they could use the same rear spoiler as the Mustang.
    Also, the rear spoiler wing materials are different ’69 vs ’70: ’69 are the hollow plastic that commonly sags over time, while the ’70 is a solid compound and is much heavier (requiring the addition of a trunk lid prop rod in many cases).

    1+
  16. bog

    Mike – I suspected that there would be some difference due to the inside trunk bracing. My BOSS’ trunk lid was so small and light that it didn’t need a prop rod. However, my rear spoiler was, in fact, hollow. I’m talking ’71, which you didn’t mention in your comment. The wing was also adjustable for increased down-force with a couple of Allen wrenches supplied with the car. Thanks for your comment ….

    0
    • Rocco Member

      @Bog & Mike_SVT,
      My ’70 BOSS 302 had the prop rod & adjustable spoiler. I wonder, now that I hear about the weight of the spoiler(hollow’69/solid’70), did the ’70 BOSS’s without a rear spoiler have a prop rod? What did the ’69 BOSS’s have to hold the trunk lid up?
      Thanks for all comments. This BF site is very informative.

      0
      • bog

        Rocco – first of all, I’m mildly jealous. If you’ve read my comments you got the BOSS I really wanted. Now that’s out of the way…don’t know if the ’69s had a prop rod, nor do I know about 70’s sans spoiler. As I mentioned earlier, my ’71 BOSS 351 (ordered new), did NOT have a rod, but since you’ve seen your buddies car, you know that the trunk lid is really short…

        0
      • Mike_B_SVT

        I can’t really speak knowledgably about the Boss Mustang prop rods, but the Eliminators in 1969 did not get a prop rod from the factory (the torsion rods were enough to hold the lid open). In ’70 though, with the increased weight of the rear spoiler, all of the Eliminators with a rear spoiler were supposed to get a prop rod. However, I have heard that if the trunk lid would stay open on its own then the line workers may not have installed a prop rod. Or so they say.
        Also, there were a handful of “rear spoiler not installed” (it shipped in the trunk) Eliminators that presumably would not have needed a prop rod. The one that I have good reference pics of has no prop rod.

        0
      • Rocco Member

        @Bog,

        “but since you’ve seen your buddies car, you know that the trunk lid is really short…”
        I think you might have a point here. The lid being short & swinging straight up on a ’71 might not need a prop rod.

        0
    • Mike_B_SVT

      I’ll admit that I don’t know much about the ’71 rear spoilers, which is why I didn’t mention them >.>
      I have heard that the wing is identical to the ’70 version, but that the pedestals are shorter.

      0
  17. bog

    Mike – I never measured them. They were probably 10″ or longer (my memory). The entire set-up looked the same as the one on a ’70 SCJ the dealership tried desperately to “unload” on me. It was, what I consider, that hideous orange with black stripe package, rear window slats and every “go fast” and special option the kid that ordered it could load it up with. He lost his deposit when he found his monthly insurance premiums would be more than his car payment !!! I’d actually wanted to order a BOSS 302, but was too late….sigh. Wasn’t entirely thrilled with the larger body style of my BOSS 351, and really not thrilled trying to see out the back while parking etc. I actually took both front and rear spoilers off for Winter driving so A) I could see better out the back, B) didn’t want snow/ice/salt damage, and C) so that I didn’t become a BOSS snowplow ! LOL !

    0
    • Mike_B_SVT

      I had a ’71 fastback for a while, so I know all about that horizontal back window, LOL! Mine didn’t have slats – I can just imagine how much less visibility it would have had!

      …Boss snowplow! That’s a good one :-b

      1+
      • Rocco Member

        Mike,
        I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a factory option for rear window slats on a ’71 Sportsroof. My buddy worked at Ford in body engineering during that time, and his dad bought a ’71 BOSS 351 new. A year later, trade in time, my buddy bought it from his dad. He later found a company that would make him the first set of custom slats for a ’71. They looked cool on the car, but was harder to see out the back when parking or changing lanes.

        1+

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