Sign Of The Cat: 1968 Mercury Cougar 302

Seeing the success that Ford had with the new Mustang in 1964, Chevrolet, Pontiac, AMC, and Mercury quickly followed up with “pony cars” of their own. The first-generation Cougar shared its chassis with the 1967 Mustang but had a longer wheelbase. Both vehicles had their roots from the RWD Ford Falcon unibody compact dating back to 1960. Early editions used the marketing slogan, “The Sign of the Cat.”  This sophomore edition runs but needs work to leave the backyard. Located in Graham, North Carolina, this ’68 Cougar is available here on eBay, but no one has yet to submit the first bid of $6,500.

The Mercury Cougar got off to a great start in 1967, selling more than 150,000 cars, nearly double the production the new Pontiac Firebird enjoyed over at GM. Sales would top the second year, but still respectable and just under 114,000 Cougars, of which 78,000 would be the “standard” coupe, like the seller’s car. In various forms, Mercury has built nearly three million Cougars over time, making it the highest-selling nameplate produced by Mercury. Its 34-year production is second only to the Grand Marquis in the Mercury model line (produced for 36 years).

This ’68 Cougar looks to be in decent condition overall. The red paint is a bit faded and there is no vinyl top, a fairly common option on these cars. There is little visible rust on the car, but the seller doesn’t provide a single photo of the entire car in the picture. It has the trademark Cougar hideaway headlights that the seller says operate properly. As do the taillights with their 1-2-3 motion sensors. The interior needs some work, but not that much. Install a headliner, new dash pad, and redo the front seat covers and you should be fine there for a while.

The car still has its original 302 cubic inch V& with a 4-barrel carburetor, as confirmed by the VIN. With an automatic transmission, it starts and drives around the yard, but the brakes are shot including the master cylinder. The exhaust system is going to need replacing along with the tires. At 122,000 miles, it’s likely time that some of this stuff should be renewed. But the car already has a new gas tank and fuel sending unit. Maybe you could fix a few things and drive this vintage car for a while before taking the next step: full-blown restoration.

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Comments

  1. Steve R

    It looks like a good starting point for someone on a budget. New tires, brakes seat upholstery, dash cover and a headliner won’t break the bank. Once those are done, just drive it.

    Steve R

    Like 17
  2. CraigR

    if I lived anywhere near there it would be in my driveway in a heartbeat.

    Like 7
    • FrankY Member

      For around $750 have it shipped to your driveway. Never let distance stop you from getting a car you like.

      Like 6
  3. Dave

    Pretty sure that would have been a 289 ci in 67-68 ?

    Like 1
    • dfk70

      ’68 was the first year they switched from 289 to 302.

      Like 7
      • ADM

        …and the only year for the J Code, four barrel 302.

        Like 7
    • Andy

      The 302 came out in 68 and was a available in both 2V and for one year only, a 4V intake and carb.
      The 289 was still available and still the base engine.

    • mike hilliard

      If it was a 67 it would be a 289. The 302 was introduced in 68.

  4. S

    This is a cool car, but it needs an awful lot of work for $6500. The more I read the description on eBay – needs this, needs that, needs this, the price I’d be wiling to pay goes down. Floors are rusted through in the trunk area also.

    • James Quinn

      Not seeing the rusted through area in the trunk. there’s some around the lug but that’s it.

    • Johnny

      Alot more care hear then some rusted out junk with nothing but a rusted sheel. People pay for–like comaros,mustangs,chargers. This one runs and you can drive it. Its worth it and priced reasonable. Wished it was near me.

      Like 5
  5. Cav427

    J Code 302? Wow, rare option! 1968 was the first year for the 302.

    • ADM

      Yup, I had one in a ’68 Galaxie convertible. Even at 125K, it still ran very well, and that was on 70’s oil, and leaded gas. A rat race crash, where I was punted into the woods, took out the old girl.

  6. RGSmith1 Member

    Brought back some great memories. Had a 68 XR7. 302 auto. Trans died shortly after I got it. Replaced it with 3spd. (Couldn’t find a 4spd at the time). Great cruiser and gas mileage on the highway. Really, miss that car!

  7. Mustang Jason

    Good entry level car for someone wanting a Mustang cousin. 4 barrel J code 302 a plus. Drum brakes a minus. Looks like a 68 Mustang console in place of the 68 Cougar console with the clock where the slide up door would be. If this was a Mustang, would be much more activity on ebay.

    • CATHOUSE

      The clock in the console face was only used in the XR-7 model. A standard Cougar (the car in this listing is a standard Cougar) would have the exact same roll up garage door in the console face as a Mustang.

  8. Ray Clifford

    67 had the 289 ci
    68 had the 302 ci
    Many changes in the 68
    I owned a 67 California Cougar

    • CATHOUSE

      The 289 was also used in 1968 models. There was a strike at the plant making the 302s so they were in short supply for a while. During that time the C code 289 2V became the base engine for a standard Cougar. The F code 302 2V was the base engine for the Cougar XR-7.

  9. Mustang Jason

    Correct Cathouse, and the J code, which is what this car’s engine code is, is the 4 barrel 302. Also offered was the 390, 427, and 428CJ later in the year.

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