Produced by the Mercury brand of Ford Motor Company’s Lincoln-Motor Division with a small dealer base, the Cougar was a runaway success, selling 150,000 units in its debut year of 1967 and more than 100,000 units in 1968. It was proof that America in the mid-sixties was ready for the pony car.
Plugged between the Mustang and the Thunderbird, in 1967 the Cougar came in three models: the base, the GT, and the XR-7. The GT was available on both the base and XR-7. Having won the Motor Trend’s Car of the Year in 1967, Lincoln-Mercury could then boast, as part of its advertising for that year, “the best-equipped luxury sports car money can buy.”
The 1967 Cougar was really a Mustang but with a 3-inch longer wheelbase and new sheet metal. They came with Remington shaver grilles, concealed headlights, and faired-in bumpers. The interior had walnut-grain steering wheel, standard bucket seats, center console, and floor shift. The dual hydraulic brake system allowed separate operation of front and rear brakes.
The 1968 models came with 210 bhp 302cid V8 as standard fare. Three-speed manual came in as standard and power could be increased with a 230 brake version up to 335 bhp 428cid GT-E V8. In this respect, the pony had just transformed into a muscle car. Added to the colossal engine could be a twin hood scoops, steel wheels, quadruple exhausts and heavy-duty suspension. With sequential tail lights like a Thunderbird, what you have is a good-looking car.
The 1968 model year included federally-mandated side marker lights, front outboard shoulder belts, among some minor changes. A 210 hp (157 kW) 302 cu in (4.9 L) two-barrel V8 was the base engine on all XR-7s and early standard Cougars.
Three new engines were added to the option list this year: the 230 hp (172 kW) 302 cu in (4.9 L), four-barrel V8; the 335 hp (250 kW) 428 cu in (7.0 L), four-barrel V8; and the 390 hp (291 kW) 427 cu in (7.0 L), four-barrel V8.
In addition, the 289 cu in (4.7 L) engine was made standard on base cars without the interior decor group midway through the model year.
1968 Mercury Cougar Specs
Production 113,726 (1968)
Body Style Two-door, four-seater coupe.
Construction Steel unitary body.
Engines 289cid, 302cid, 428cid V8s.
Power Output 210-335 bhp.
Transmission Three-speed manual, optional four-speed manual, or three-speed Merc-O-Matic automatic.