Rare 302/4-Speed: 1968 Mercury Cougar XR-7

The owner of this 1968 Mercury Cougar XR-7 describes its condition as jaw-dropping, and when you examine the supplied photos, it seems like a fair assessment. Its overall presentation is stunning, and its drivetrain configuration increases its overall desirability. For potential buyers, it appears that they can immediately slip behind the wheel to partake in a spot of relaxed classic cruising. If I’ve managed to tempt you to the point where you long to own the Cougar, you will find it located in Lakeland, Florida, and listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has reached $17,000, but this figure falls short of the reserve.

Augusta Green with a Black Oxford top probably rates up there with the best of them when it comes to classy paint combinations. It looks elegant at the best of times, and this XR-7 carries it well. The paint has a beautiful depth of color and shine, with no visible flaws or blemishes. The panels that it covers are equally impressive. I can’t spot any dings or dents, and there’s no evidence of rust. The owner doesn’t mention any issues with the Cougar’s underside, and the lack of obvious surface corrosion across various areas of the car suggests that this could be a rust-free survivor. The chrome and trim are spotlessly clean, as is the glass. These Cougars had two known weak points. The vacuum-operated headlight doors could turn up their toes as the years passed, while the sequential rear lights could malfunction. The owner states that both of these items function flawlessly, while the styled chrome wheels appear to be in as-new condition.

If the Cougar’s exterior is impressive, the interior is good enough to knock your socks off. It presents impressively in Tan, with not a mark to be found anywhere. There is no wear on the seats or door trims and no signs of damage on the console. The carpet is spotless, as are the headliner and dash pad. The burled walnut dash looks luxurious, and not only is it loaded with gauges that include a tach, but the walnut wheel perfectly complements it. I hesitate to use the term showroom fresh, but it has to rate close to that level. If I’m surprised by anything, it is that the original owner didn’t order this XR-7 with air conditioning. However, The Cougar does score a rear defogger, and the console houses the factory AM radio and clock.

It isn’t clear whether the XR-7 is a numbers-matching vehicle, but the engine bay houses an F-Code 302ci V8 that should be punching out 210hp. The car also features a four-speed manual transmission and power steering, adding to this classic’s driving appeal. This wasn’t the most potent combination that Mercury offered in 1968, but it should be sufficient to fire the Cougar through the ¼ mile in 16.5 seconds. The engine bay’s presentation matches the rest of the vehicle, but I am disappointed by one thing. I’m surprised that with a classic of this caliber and potential value, the seller offers no information on how well it runs or drives. We are left to rely on visual impressions, and if these are an accurate indication of its mechanical health, This Mercury should be ready and raring to go with its new owner behind the wheel. However, the owner does indicate that out of the total 1968 production of 32,712 XR-7s, this car is 1-of-4,777 to feature the 302/4-speed drivetrain combination.

There’s no question that this 1968 Cougar XR-7 is a beautiful car, and it manages to perfectly combine the charm and performance of a classic pony car with a luxurious motoring experience. The V8/4-speed drivetrain combination should offer its next owner a rewarding driving experience, and with values climbing slowly, it could also represent a solid long-term investment. That begs the question of what its potential value would be. Given its overall condition, it should easily be knocking on the door of $35,000. On a good day, that figure could climb considerably higher. We can’t be sure where the reserve is, but I think that I can provide some insight. It isn’t the first time the owner has offered this classic for sale, and it failed to meet the reserve during the previous auction. This was despite the bidding reaching $29,700 off the back of some pretty spirited action. Potential buyers will need to brace for it to once again climb to that level, but do you think he will find a buyer this time?

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Comments

  1. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Ah, the sad reality of being born good-looking and not rich.. Come to think of it I’ve neither currently working in my favor..🤣
    This Cougar is understated, underrated and under inflated at the price it’s listed for, but still above the range some of us can afford.
    Nice find, Adam.

    Like 31
  2. angliagt angliagt Member

    Well said!

    Like 8
  3. RGSmith1 Member

    Damn! Guess I should have kept my 68 Cougar! Oh well, like they say, hindsight is 20/20!

    Like 9
    • JC

      Yep… Just like my 1970 GTO Ram Air Convertible… that I got $2k for when I traded it in ’84 on a mint low mile ’77 Lincoln Mk V with a 460… which I sold in 2001 with under 50k miles on it for $2400…smh… both worth legions more now. Sigh.

  4. Luke Fitzgerald

    Fling the wheel and the Chinese chrome under the bonnet and you’re on your way

    Like 5
  5. DanaPointJohn

    The reserve may need to be lowered if $29,700 wasn’t enough last time around.

    Like 7
    • Terrry

      Provided the seller really wants to get rid of it. Maybe he wants top dollar?

      Like 2
      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        “Honey, sweetheart, I’ve really TRIED to sell the car for what we know it’s worth and no one has the money-I guess we’ll just have to keep it…”!

        Like 10
  6. JCA Member

    Very nice. More detail, underside pics and a Marti would help as it looks like it’s been modded here and there. Don’t think the hood pins or steering wheel are original. No A/C and looks like no disk brakes. It has a 4 spd because its a base model. A nice car nonetheless but maybe worth less than top dollar the seller wants for those reasons

    Like 7
    • mick

      Did not know they offered the 4spd with the base 302. Growing up, my next door neighbor had a white 1968 Cougar but 302/3spd floor shift. Can’t remember if I asked him why the 3spd instead of 4spd but it seems like my memory indicated he said no choice. Anyone else remember that?

      Like 2
      • Terrysrsr

        I think the Cougar came as standard equipment, with the 3 speed. You paid extra, for the bigger motor, and auto trans, or the 4 speed.

        Like 2
  7. Boatman Member

    It’s not a “showroom fresh” interior with two of the four toggles broken off.

    Like 6
  8. Terrry

    Unlike many late-60s cars, the Cougar has a very nice dash. And this car is beautiful all around.

    Like 7
  9. CraigR

    Scrolling down the ebay ad. the seller notes it as a 1967. The side marker lights and VIN confirm it as a 1968 though.

    Like 4
    • Michael Waite

      YES That is a 68

  10. Craig

    I’m just retired and would love to have an old car to work on but at the prices even a junk pile is it’s impossible.. It really is too bad that the hobby has gotten so out of hand with prices. Thanks for listening.

    Like 16
    • glenn C marks

      Understand your pain, but you have change your sights and you can still do what you want. Not long ago, NOBODY was having conversations about Station wagons, Darts with slant-sixes, Fairmonts, and ANYTHING to do with AMC products. Adjust! I suspect you can.

      Like 1
  11. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Mustang wheels….so I’ll pass.

    Like 1
  12. Howard A Member

    4 speed this and 4 speed that, it’s all you see today, even in unlikely vehicles such as this ( and a 4 speed Fairmont too?) Truth is folks, I grew up in this era, and 4 speeds were few and far between. Clearly todays “hot button” when it comes to classics, everyone coming down the pike has a 4 speed. Ironically, it eliminates most people today, who would like to have a classic such as this, but don’t want or can’t drive a stick. XR7’s attracted people who thought they were one step above mere Mustang drivers, frantically rowing away with their gearshifts. The XR7, all Cougars, really, were for a more civilized camp. The European touches were no coincidence. Why they put the oil pressure gauge in front of the passenger, and out of drivers view, will always remain a mystery. 4 speed bellyaching aside, just a fantastic example here, I wonder if the sequential turn signals still works, always a major problem. I remember, the clumsy unit, mounted in the trunk, was troublesome, hard to find replacements, and many just wired them all to flash at once. I remember also, more than 1 Cougar with the headlight doors wired open as they became beaters.

    Like 4
    • Mikefromthehammer

      From Adam’s write-up:

      “These Cougars had two known weak points. The vacuum-operated headlight doors could turn up their toes as the years passed, while the sequential rear lights could malfunction. The owner states that both of these items function flawlessly,”

      Like 7
      • Marc Stevens

        There are now available through Cougar car parts retailers. that provide updated systems for both these Cougar issues: 1. A headlight door operating units that replace the vacuum units with electric jackscrew motors, similar to what the old Ford Probe uses. Installing the units also properly realigns the headlight doors with the grille openings. The only thing that I found is you can no longer open or close the headlight doors by hand to clean the headlights. 2. Some other aftermarket parts companies have invented solid state sequencer boxes that will plug into the existing wiring harness located in the left trunk wheel well. If you want to change your old incandescent taillight bulbs to newer, brighter LED units, these electronic boxes are already compatable with the LED bulbs. My favorite Cougar parts dealer (West Coast Classic Cougars) have a couple other new items A classic Cougar might like: 1. They have a matching passenger side mirror with the modern concave ‘objects in mirror are close than they look’ mirror matching. 2. For that small dial opening that was intended for the optional clock, WCCC has come up with a 0-8000 RPM Tachometer that uses the dial markings, looking like an original factory unit.

        Like 1
  13. ADM

    You could bid $100K with these people and it will still say “Reserve not met.”

    Like 1
  14. Kurt Member

    Is it true parts for Cougars are hard to come by? Beautiful car, but I’d pot disks and a/c on.

    Like 1
    • TBall

      Kurt – for most parts no more so than a Mustang as they are common. Body panels and trim pieces become more difficult however there are still classic cougar vendors out there

      Like 2
  15. TBall

    Nice ride. This was my first car, wish I still had it. That said, listing is overstated. There are a number of nit-pick issues others have pointed out that would indicate that current $25k bid is all she can hold.

    Like 1
  16. 427Turbojet 427Turbojet Member

    In high school, circa 1971 I went to work at a gas station/Firestone dealer/general repair shop. The shop was in an old converted horse stable, we had one hoist that went up through a a hole in the ceiling to the loft area. One of the first days I was assigned to do a tune-up on a ’68 Cougar that looked identical to this one but had a 390 in it. The engine was still hot when I started and I think I invented new cuss words when I replaced the rear plugs. For some reason, I never really cared for Cougars after that!

    Like 4
    • 19sixty5 Member

      Yep, the big block Mustangs and Cougars with the factory smog systems were arguably among the worst cars for spark plug access ever. I worked in a service station as a kid around 1968-1970. My best friend bought a 68 Mustang GT 390 4 speed that we removed the Thermactor smog system and added Hooker headers. It was still a pain to change plugs even with the smog air injection pipes removed. I graduated high school in 1970, arguably the height of the muscle car era, and I believe the big block Mustang/Cougars had the worst spark plug access of anything I can remember. Wonderful times though for certain!

      Like 2
      • mick

        Or, a 1970 Chrysler Imperial with the 440. Two rear plugs were almost unreachable and invisible!

  17. joenywf64

    I would think MANUAL 4 wheel drum brakes are quite uncommon on Cougars, but not Mustangs back in the day
    I’m guessing the original seat belts & possibly the carpet were tan in color.

    Like 1
  18. z28th1s

    This dealer just bought the car from a small dealer in PA. The dealer from PA was asking 20K for it. Search Ebay completed auctions and you will see. The dealer in FL is trying to make a quick $10K.

    Like 4
    • JCA Member

      Yup. This dealer just bought it a month ago for less than $20k. And the previous dealer showed a couple rusty undercarriage pics and noted rust the driver’s side floor pan. The new dealer just omitted undercarriage pics altogether and didn’t mention anything about the floor pan rust. Shady…

      Like 7
  19. Mike

    My first car was a 67 Cougar XR7 and I just loved the toggle switches. I bought it for $2600 in 1981…should have kept it

    Like 1
  20. john hugh

    allready overbid..

    Like 1

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