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No Reserve 1968 Mercury Cougar 390

Undeniably, some cars seem capable of ticking the right boxes and generating interest better than others. The First Generation Mercury Cougar is a perfect example because it took years to emerge from the shadow cast by its Mustang cousin. However, emerge it has, and this 1968 example demonstrates that graphically. It is a solid barn find that has received an impressive forty-four bids since the seller listed it here on eBay in Groveland, Florida. The intense action has pushed the price to $13,100 in a No Reserve auction.

There’s a bit to consider with this Cougar, with the first point being the seller’s description of this classic as a barn find. I am willing to take that at face value, but some background on when and where it was found and how long it hibernated would be welcomed by those seeking a genuine barn find. The car’s Polar White paint fascinates me because there appears to be a color mismatch between some of the panels. The seller emphasizes that the Cougar retains all its original steel and has never suffered accident damage. They say it received a repaint in the early 2000s, but this doesn’t account for the apparent inconsistency. The issue could be a trick of the light, but this and a couple of other flaws would prompt me to perform an in-person inspection. The exterior is free from visible rust, and the trunk shots look promising. It is a similar story with the floors, although heavy corrosion beginning to appear around the torque box region would motivate me to treat and seal the entire underside before that corrosion makes the transition to penetrating rust. There are no patches or evidence of previous repairs, seemingly supporting the seller’s claim that this Mercury has been garage-kept throughout its life. The trim appears acceptable for a driver-grade classic, and I can’t spot any problems with the tinted glass.

Buyers could not order a new First Generation Cougar without a V8 under the hood. This was the primary point of difference between it and the Mustang, as Mercury pushed its model’s more luxurious credentials. This Cougar features the X-Code 390ci V8, producing 280hp. Shifting duties are completed by a three-speed Merc-O-Matic transmission, with power steering and power brakes further emphasizing this car’s luxury leanings. It would be fair to expect similar performance from a Cougar and an equivalent Mustang since both share their architecture and drivetrains. However, there are differences worth noting. This Cougar will tip the scales over 230 lbs heavier than a 390-equipped Mustang, and weight is one of the greatest enemies of performance. It is also worth noting that most Mustang buyers opted for the more powerful S-Code 390, with only 733 buyers selecting the milder version of that V8. This Cougar features its numbers-matching drivetrain and is in good mechanical health. It runs and drives well, with no smoke, knocks, or fluid leaks. It is ideal for an enthusiast seeking immediate classic motoring gratification.

This Cougar’s interior demonstrates how some people interpret conditions differently from others. The seller describes it as being in excellent shape, and it is undeniably tidy and unmolested. However, the split on the driver’s seat, what appears to be a matching one developing on the passenger seat, and the fading carpet lead me to believe that they may be overshooting the mark with their assessment. Addressing those flaws won’t break the bank, with parts readily available and affordable. The mirror needs reattaching, and some untidy wiring is hanging below the dash. Otherwise, the remaining upholstered surfaces and back seat look good for their age, the dash and pad are impressive, and the wheel is crack-free. The new owner will welcome the air conditioning, and in-car entertainment is tackled by a factory AM radio.

This 1968 Mercury Cougar isn’t perfect, nor is it a classic that will devour the winning bidder’s remaining cash as they address major rust problems. It is rock-solid, and any required work could be carried out in a home workshop without breaking the bank. The idea of spending some of the upcoming winter months treating the underside surface corrosion and undersealing the car would be tempting. Addressing its minor interior shortcomings would only take a few days, and with that work complete, the buyer could roll it out for hours of fun when the sun shows its happy face again. Are you tempted?


  1. Michael

    The bottom front corners of both doors look like they are curled outward. The pinstripes are incorrect.

    Like 8
  2. Cougar

    This is a car with much rust coming from the inside out as mentioned with doors and torque boxes.

    Like 9
    • Rickirick

      Possibly a flood vehicle, especially being in Florida?

      Like 5

    The A/C is not factory installed, it is either aftermarket or dealer installed. The photos showing the inside of the quarter panels from the trunk show a line on them that looks like it could be from installing patch panels. You can see that there are the normal rust spots where the inner fender aprons meet the shock towers. There is some sort of extra switch or light added just above the radio.

    It is not a bad looking car from the photos but I think that there are enough questionable areas that I would want an in person inspection before I would bid on it.

    Like 16
  4. CCFisher

    A 390-2bbl Mustang is a rare horse, indeed. Only 733 X-code Mustangs were built. This is a rare case where the Mercury version is more common than the Ford version.

    Like 4
    • Inspection Needed

      While rare .., a clean 289 non rusted is a better deal to enjoy and drive.
      The cat is going to be a car that needs a complete tear down disassembly to get the rust out.
      Were talking $$$$.

      Like 6
  5. C Force

    I would source a vintage 4bbl intake,put a Holley 4150 carb and headers,electronic ignition and you will make the same hp as the s-code,maybe even a little more.keep the 2bbl carbs for the trucks….

    Like 3
  6. Robt

    Another ‘buyer beware’. Love these cougars but too many question makes between the ad script and the pics.

    Like 2
  7. Old Beach Guy

    Pin oak leaves have ruined many a fine car. They nestle themselves in every crook and cranny, trapping moisture. An in-person inspection is a must.

    Like 4
  8. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Agree with your comments not to mention the funny door data attachment….

    Like 1
  9. MICK George.

    Love the Cougars not many down here in Australia. as you say the paint is not a sun trick both sides of car have same mismatch paint from front.if a lot of rust is found in the panels then a full re spray will fix the paint. not cheap.

    Like 1
  10. Ffred

    “Body is all original and rust free”.. there you have it.

    Like 0
  11. Claudio

    At close to 15 k now , i believe a lot of people ´s brains were damaged by clotshots …

    Like 1

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