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Rare Cat: 1972 Mercury Cougar XR-7 Cobra Jet

For 1971, Ford’s Mustang got a new longer, wider, and overall bigger look. That also meant its Cougar cousin from the Mercury side of the family got the same since it shared much of its body shell with the Mustang. When introduced in 1967, Mercury’s advertising went all out with the cat theme, even positioning their more plush pony car as “Untamed Elegance.” But over time, sportiness seeped its way into the Cougar lineup and here’s a nice, clean example of one: a 1972 Mercury Cougar XR-7 Cobra Jet. Located in Oakland, California, this rare cat (1 of only 2,401 produced) is for sale here on craigslist for $21,500. Another thanks to our pal, ToddK, for sending this rare cat our way.

Mercury claimed its XR-7 for 1972 was the best equipped luxury sports car in the country. According to the Cougar Club of America, a total of only 3,560 Cougars rolled off the assembly line that year with the Q Code 351-cubic inch Cobra Jet V8 under the hood. Of that, 2,401, or 68%, were hardtops with an automatic transmission like we have here. No history is shared about what this cat has been up to the past 51 years. Based on the photos, the exterior is in impressive, shiny shape. It’s had one respray to its original medium-green metallic and the 3/4 vinyl roof was changed from white to its current black, which I think was a good move. With the restyling, the Cougar design team said goodbye to the split grille, hidden headlights front end, and the taillights with the sequential turn signal are now set within the bumper. Based on what I see, all of the chrome, glass, trim, badging, and sporty wheels look to be in good order.

The matching green interior (and there’s a lot of green, including the headliner) is original and looks well-above-average for its age. The leather high-back front bucket seats and the rear bench seats aren’t showing noticeable wear, but the original carpet looks like it could use a cleaning and may be discolored in places. And it was the 1970’s, so the semi-sporty steering wheel and instrument panel reinforces the luxury sports car theme with a tasteful touch of faux wood.

Based on the sales brochure and online photos, that top section of the instrument panel should be green and match the rest of the dash, but it’s black. This luxury sports car is equipped with power windows, power steering, power front disc brakes. tilt wheel, air conditioning, and a sports console with clock housing a floor-shifted SelectShift automatic transmission.

Purring, but capable of growling, rests the Cougar’s 351-cubic inch 4V Cobra Jet engine that could generate 266 horsepower when new. Like the rest of this Cougar, it looks clean and the seller lists the mileage at 94,000 which is “believed to be original.” Only 6% of 1972 Cougars leaving the factory had the 351 Cobra Jet engine under the hood. I’m not sure how many of the 2,401 hardtops with an automatic transmission are still around and look as good as this one. What do you think of this well-equipped luxury sports car?


  1. ThunderRob

    Love this,they were still fun cars until 1973 even with luxury taking over.If i had the bucks this would be coming home to me now :P

    Like 24
    • Rickirick

      ThunderRob got it right. What a beauty. This fomoco fan loves it! And green is my fave color. Man I could see myself driving this from Georgia to Michigan in June & showing up at my 50th hs reunion. Btw, nice write up Ron

      Like 28
      • $ where mouth is

        WOW, look at what Ford did in 72 !, AND power windows ! :)
        That machine is money, the color is poetry in motion.

        Like 3
  2. Azzura Member

    Looks like an aftermarket dash cap.

    Like 10
  3. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Nice Cougar. I like the roofline which features quasi-fastback styling. Looks best without the big bumpers which would start in 1973. Don’t see too many of these, so a chance to have something different.

    Like 16
    • Peter Pasqualini

      It’s a shame it’s a skushbox. I used to own a rare 4 speed Cougar. This would be a nice performance car with a 4 speed. Very few Cougars cale with three pedals.

      Like 6
      • Grape Ape

        Locker partner high school 3 years had a Cougar. Auto trans, maybe not the fastest, but a nice car to ride in. He managed to roll it a block from his house, I don’t know how.

        Like 3
  4. Beauwayne5000

    351 C had soft Bronze valve guides that wore out at 30k mi & needed replacement.
    Work around of course is harder modern valve guides & harder valve stem set up I’d go for the sodium filled valve stems for heat dissipation from the HD F-150 Engines.
    Proper 3angle valve job & port matching a must…it’s the little things on these Ford engines that count.
    Nice looking car a good cruiser not a racer.
    Perfect for a drive inn movie if ya can find one still operating.

    Like 9
    • Yblocker

      I had a 73 Cougar with a Cleveland, never had any valve guide problems, sold it with 90some thousand miles on it

      Like 11
      • Terry Bowman

        I had a 70′ 351 Cleveland. Sold it 200,000 miles on it and never had a engine problem.

        Like 3
    • Bub

      It’s the little things? That’s a ton of effort on the heads alone. Unless it’s your game.

      Like 4
  5. Charlie Patterson

    I’ve never been much of a Ford guy, but always liked the Cougar body styles. That’s a beautiful example. I’d drive it in a heartbeat if I had the money. GLWTS

    Like 11
  6. Joe M.

    “266 hp (SAE net) of power, 408 Nm / 301 lb-ft of torque” The trq would be more fun, depending on gears.

    Like 5
  7. Bub

    Such a busy front end. Not “designed by committee” so much as maybe a caffeinated guy thinking he’s being paid by the straight line.
    Comparatively, that year’s Grand Prix front end is restrained. Less is more.

    Like 3
    • Yblocker

      Well let’s see, it has a grille, headlights, park lights, and a bumper, pretty busy like every other car out there lol

      Like 10
    • Nelson C

      These are kind of like when you graduate HS and discover there’s something out there called a coed.

      Like 2
      • Lance Platt

        Beautifully styled car thst combined the best attributes of a big Mustang sporty coupe and a luxury car like GM”s Grand Prix. The car for sale is green which was a common paint choice for that year. The car is better optioned than a typical intermediate in 1972 so if everything still works should add to the enhancement on a classic car cruise and a drive to a show The price isn’t a bargain but the car is very desirable next to today’s turtle shell sedans and gigantic SUVs.

        Like 2

    Wow, what a beautiful Cougar. Love the green paint and even the green interior. I’d be proud to drive it in the summer and then stare at it in the winter. The relatively low price means I would have plenty of cash to spend on improving the horsepower and torque and make it as fast as it looks. I really dig this Cougar.

    Like 12
  9. Grape Ape

    Nice looking car. Think I’d prefer the white vinyl top for reduced cabin temps when cruising in the summer. Might have to soup up the performance a little.

    Like 1
  10. Paul S in TX

    This car is stunning!

    Like 5
  11. Mike Fisher

    Love that shade of green paint! Any idea what the paint code is? Thanks!

    Like 3
    • Paul S in TX

      I think it’s a 4P medium green?

      Like 2
      • bluemiata

        Thanks, Paul!

        Like 2

    As many others have already said this is a nice looking car. I think that the seller could really help their case though if they were to post an image of the Marti report to the ad.

    I do see a few things though that will need attention. The front grille emblem has been messed with. The red XR-7 portion is in the correct orientation but the surround is upside down. Since the center portion is riveted to the surround someone must have taken it apart at some time and incorrectly reassembled it. The COUGAR script on the left side of the trunk lid should be on the right side. It is missing the power window switch bezel on the right door. It is missing the under hood insulation pad. The shifter T handle should be the plastic color keyed style, not all chrome. There is some sort of aftermarket relay wired in under the hood, it is located just behind the starter solenoid.

    Just to clarify, the 2401 production number is for XR-7 hardtops. There were an additional 500 standard hardtops built with the Q code engine and automatic transmission.

    All in all though if it is as solid as the photos make it look and everything matches with the Marti report it should make someone a very nice car.

    Like 8
    • Paul S in TX

      It took me awhile to find the correct placement of the Cougar trunk emblems but this is what I found…. on all standard Cougars, the emblem is on the right side of the trunk lid. On the XR-7, the XR-7 emblem was placed on the right side and Cougar was placed on the left.
      I never knew this either….

      Like 5
  13. Cooter Cooter Member

    This is a very well preserved Cougar. But with that front end it looks like a 69 Grand Prix and a 72 Mach 1 had a baby. I prefer the hidden headlamps and slightly overall smaller size of the previous years.

    Like 8
  14. Dale L

    The 3/4 vinyl top isn’t black. It’s not dark enough. If you look at image two in the Ad, it’s definitely green vinyl.

    Like 0
  15. Jeffrey R McDermott

    Beautiful XR7! Well equipped with AC! Priced reasonable for the great shape it is in!

    Like 1
  16. ALKY

    Beautiful and stunning condition for the age of this classic Cougar. What s not to love about this one.

    Like 1
  17. HC Member

    I prefer the 68-70 Cougar year body styles much better than this year, but this one kind of holds its own. Like a bastardized Mach 1 Cougar.. that 351 has to be fun to drive too.

    Like 3
  18. $ where mouth is

    WOW, look at what Ford did in 72 !, AND power windows ! :)
    That machine is money, the color is poetry in motion.

    Like 1
  19. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Very nice ’72 Cougar. I wonder how much more a ’72 Mach I in this condition would get, probably something like 10K?
    I would always go for the cat.

    Like 2
  20. 59poncho

    A very well preserved example. As a Bay Area resident though, not my favorite place to carry 21 grand!

    Like 0

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