Supercharged Survivor: 1989 Mercury Cougar XR7

There are few “finished” cars these days that make me want to go out and drain my bank account and hook up a trailer, but a car like this survivor-spec 1989 Mercury Cougar XR7 with the supercharged six-cylinder mill and five-speed manual gearbox is one of them. I love everything about this XR7, from its obscenely clean condition to its bonkers how does this even exist factor considering it’s not a Super Coupe or other high performance model yet it’s equipped with the optional powerplant and rare shift-it-yourself configuration. Find the Cougar here on craigslist in New Hampshire for $12,000.

Not only is this configuration extremely rare, the Cougar is also in outstanding condition. Lightning striking twice in such a way just never happens, especially for a vehicle like the seventh generation Cougar and Thunderbird. This iteration of Ford’s classic big body coupe is seemingly always overlooked as a modern collectible, especially considering it features the preferred front engine, rear drive combination, along with fully independent suspension. Models like this XR7 even got standard anti-lock brakes, which was a big deal at the time. The interior of this time-warp specimen with under 20,000 original miles remains in as-new condition, with nicely bolstered bucket seats and gray cloth trim.

The Cougar’s shape is surprisingly sexy from this angle, and photos in the listing show what looks like modifications to the suspension in the form of lowering springs. Perhaps it has stiffer shocks as well, but those details aren’t mentioned. The Cougar retains the XR7-specific wheels that still look sharp all these years later, and surprisingly sporty. The true dual exhaust let you know there was some very real performance under the hood, but thankfully, the seller hasn’t modified the stock mufflers. The seller notes that despite residing in New England, the Cougar has never seen rain or snow and that it is one of 435 models configured this way, according to the Marti Report.

Ford had used turbocharging on the previous edition of the Cougar, and opted to supercharge the standard 3.8L V6 to generate a respectable 210 b.h.p. The V8 would come later after a mild redesign to clear the low-slung hood of the redesigned Cougar, and as much as I love the sound of an eight cylinder engine, I am totally digging this setup. Supercharger whine is the next best noise in my book, and no one is expecting grandma’s Cougar to roll up on them with this engine and a five-speed. Personally, I would be shocked to see this Cougar stay for sale past the weekend, as it’s just too damn rare to risk trying to find its twin later on.


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  1. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    This Cougar is a real beauty! It’s difficult to find fault with this gem; the sharp red paint and the sparkling clean inter present beautifully. I’m sure most Barnfinders remember when these Cougars and their Thunderbird cousins were very popular in the ’80s and ’90s, it seems you saw them everywhere. Here in the Northeast, it’s pretty rare to see either model anymore. I’d love to park this in my garage and I think the price is more than fair for what you’d be getting. With only 17,000 miles, it’s as close to a new car as you could find.

    Like 15
  2. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Great write-up Jeff. I’ve always liked the Super Coupes, but I actually thought the Cougars looked a little better, even with the straight-up rear window. This one looks great. I have casually watched for these for sale (with manual transmission) and see one about once a year, so there aren’t many out there, let alone a low-mileage example. I agree with FordGuy, the price seems very fair, and I suspect it will be gone soon.

    Like 13
  3. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    I have to agree that there is something attractive about the stance of this car. Very nice low mileage, supercharged, three pedal, time warp! If this were closer to home, and I didn’t just buy a W210 wagon project, I would be on this.

    Like 9
  4. Jake8687 Member

    Was this on bring a trailer last month? Regardless, this is one purrrfect cat. Somewhat of a unicorn these days.

    Like 4
    • msheiner msheiner Member

      Yes this appears to be the same car that was on bringing trailer recently that did not meet the reserve.

      Like 1
    • Todd Zuercher

      I was thinking the same thing. These cars are super rare (many of the BaT commenters didn’t even know they exist) and the production numbers are very low. I’d love to have this.

  5. Terrry

    I don’t think $12k is too high, but the trick is finding a buyer who agrees.

    Like 2
  6. Skorzeny

    Look, I HATE that back window, but I think that this will be a great (and fun) car for somebody at this price. It’s pretty sharp with this color… Now about that window…

    Like 2
  7. Brian Ludwig

    Prefer the T birds myself, but I had one of these with the automatic and that car was still a blast.

  8. Ric

    I had a ’90 T-Bird SC and while it was great when new, you need to get rid of it and run far away before it hits 100K miles. That motor was no fun at all to rebuild.

  9. Ed

    I got a 93 XR7 with 5.0 ho best overall car I’ve ever owned drives like a dream and is so reliable even at the 28 year old mark

    Like 4
  10. Anthony M.

    Had a ’92, ’95, ’97. Clearly a favorite. And I think that stance is factory which is what attracted me in the first place. In fact my Cougars are probably the only cars I ever owned that I didn’t put bigger wheels on to fill up the wheel wells.

    Like 1
  11. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    This car is actually located in Merrimac, MA, not NH.

    I never knew they made an SC version of the XR-7.

    Like 1
  12. JCA

    Really nice. Do you drive it or is it too nice to put miles on though

  13. karl j holquist

    I have 2 1993 XR7s one is a 5.0 and other a 3.8 most underlooked cars made!!

    Like 3
  14. Oddimotive Cason Oddimotive Cason Member

    Great find and very, very unusual with a clutch pedal. A friend had one of these brand new with an automatic and it was a blast!

    The only correction I’ll make ihere is that this IS the high performance model. It has 100% of the same performance bits as a T-Bird SC.

    Like 1
  15. Dennis

    Beautiful car, as already noted by many. But, looking at that pic shot from the rear driver’s side, wouldn’t it have been cooler if they used that forward slanted roof/rear pillar line to put in a late 50’s-early 60’s Merc forward slanted window? A little homage to the lineage?

    Maybe it’s only me….

    Like 1
  16. Doug

    Had one in black with red leather. Widest shift pattern I ever owned, but was one of the best road cars I ever traveled in. Would love to have one again.

  17. t-bone BOB

    Located in Merrimac, MA

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