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Luxury Cat: 1972 Mercury Cougar Barn Find


By 1972, the Mercury Cougar was well on it’s way to transitioning from a Mustang-based take on the pony car idea to something more resembling a Thunderbird. While this one is still mechanically similar to the same year Mustang, you can tell from period advertising that Mercury had shifted its focus to luxury. This example is located in Del County, Pennsylvania and is up for sale here on craigslist for only $1,000.


We don’t know a lot about this particular car other than the seller calls it a barn find. I can believe that given the cosmetic condition of the car. I’m also guessing it’s been in salt-using states all it’s life based on the rust apparent in the right rear fender. Some welding will be needed!


It’s nice to see a jack in the trunk, although I have no idea if it’s original or not. At least the trunk floor is solid enough that it’s holding up the stuff in it! It looks like a previous owner had the same habit I do of putting the last set of replaced belts in the trunk “just in case.” None of the rust around the trunk opening looks like it’s all the way through, although I wonder what the trunk lip itself looks like on the underside.


Based on the debris inside the car, I think windows were down during storage. Unfortunately, the seller doesn’t tell us how solid the floors are. The white upholstery has certainly seen better days, and I suspect these new panels that I was surprised to find readily available may be necessary.


All 1972 Cougars had 351 V-8’s, with some getting a four-barrel Cobra Jet and others making do with a 2-barrel. It’s nice to see the air conditioning compressor although you can bet on doing some work, up to possibly a R134A conversion. The carburetor is awfully shiny, implying some work done at some point, but the seller tells us that although the engine is free they have made no effort to start the car. The odometer is showing 65,000 miles, but since we have no idea how long it’s been stored, we have no idea if that’s close to correct or not. While this one is a low entry price, the visible rust with no undercar pictures has me a little worried about purchasing this example versus a somewhat more solid one. What do you think?


  1. Jason Houston

    Most of the popular high performance cars evolved into ugly, useless beasts after the government outlawed them. This sad Cougar is just one victim…

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  2. randy

    THIS is an entry level car.

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  3. Barry Thomas

    I agree, the poor ol’ Cougar morphed into an ungainly shaped vehicle after the rather nice run from ’67 to ’70. Can’t understand how any were sold.
    Barry Thomas’ “Wheel to Wheel” blog

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  4. 64 bonneville

    Having live in Pennsylvania, a long time ago, I can attest to the rust issues. Back in the 50s’ and 60s’ after 3 or 4 years use of a new car, the tin worm was building a subdivision in them. Judging from the pictures the right rear quarter panel may have had a bad bondo repair, just to get a safety sticker. Unless it has changed since I lived there, every 6 months you had to get a new safety inspection on your vehicle. At that time Pennsylvania had one of the most stringent and thorough vehicle inspection in the country. up on a lift to check exhaust and undercarriage rust thru, pull a drum to check the brake linings, and for leakage, etc. I think they still do that, plus emission controls and N.Ox.

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    • Chris H

      Yes they still do. Now the cost varies from a low of around $50.00 up to over $100.00 for emissions and inspection. It’s a huge revenue maker as well for the local townships as the fines for an expired sticker start at around $70.00! Trust me, I know from experience:-) Some more rural counties do not require emissions. Btw, this car is actually in Delaware County where salt is heavily used.

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  5. randy

    They started having extensive inspections in Tx cities many years ago, many inspection stations closed down due to the expense of the inspection machines and labor involved. The set price was $25.00 or so.
    I imagine the big three love Penn., Folks had to buy new cars or pay expensive repair bills to keep the cars on the road.

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  6. piper62j

    Same platform as the Mustang.. Same rust issues.. I always felt the Mercury line was a cut above the Ford basics.. More sound proofing, wood grain interior trim, cut pile carpeting, enhanced body lines.. But still a rust bucket after a few years in the field. Not as much value in todays muscle car market, but still worth looking into..

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  7. Jim Marshall

    The first car I ever restored was a 71 Cougar XR7 that I paid 50.00 bucks for. Car was a trade in at the Ford dealer I then worked for in sales. Car came out very good after spending about 4 K on it. Traded it for a 80% completed 65 442 and got $1500.00 cash that I used to complete the Olds. Sold the 442 for 11K. Turning and burning.

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  8. Mark S

    There is no way that carb is any where near fresh, the excelerator pump arm is covered in rust and the carb is covered in topical aluminum corrosion. Unfortunately very few people want these cats making this almost worthless.

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