By Bobby Webb
Envisioned to be a car of elegance, luxury and class, the 1967-68 Mercury Cougar XR7 was purposed to be a complement to the Ford Mustang eventually evolving into a highly styled car that was affordable.
Similar To The Ford Mustang Yet With Differences
The 1967-’68 Cougar XR-7 was largely based on the refaced ’67 Mustang. It only came in a single body, though, which was a two door hardtop notchback. It didn’t have the convertible or fastback body options available like the Mustang (convertible tops weren’t available until 1969). Underneath, though, the Mercury Cougar embodied what a Mustang was but with a few differences. The Cougar XR-7 had an 111 inch wheelbase while the Mustang’s was only 108 inches. The front suspension of the Cougar XR-7 had coil springs that were mounted over the upper control A-arm while the rear had leaf springs. This was similar to what the Mustang had but the ’67-’68 Cougar had a softer ride due to softer suspension bushings. Another difference between the Cougar XR-7 and Mustang is that the Cougar had articulated drag struts on its front suspension. This put less shock on the Cougar’s body structure which helped give it a “luxurious” image. To further the luxury, the Cougar XR-7 was also equipped with a special package to deaden sound.
Luxury and European Styling
The ’67 Cougar, meant to be a more refined vehicle, was offered with three engines:
- 200hp 289 c.i. V-8 (two-barrel carburetor and single exhaust system)
- 225hp “Super 289″ c.i. V-8 (four-barrel carburetor and dual exhausts)
- 320hp 390 c.i. V-8 (GT Equipment Package with Ford’s big block engine)
The 390 engine, which was available for the Cougar and other Mercury cars, was called the Maurader 390 GT. The GT package allowed drivers to turn the Cougar XR-7 into a genuine muscle car. Along with these three types of engines, each could either be bought as a three speed automatic, three speed manual or as a four speed manual.
The ’67-’68 Mercury Cougar XR-7 was pretty unique when it came to styling. Probably the most noticeable feature on the car was its full-width split grille on the front that looked similar to an electric shaver. The front end also had concealed headlights. At the rear of the Cougar there was also vertically slatted grillework with sequential taillights which borrowed its look from the Ford Thunderbird.
Although the exterior of the Mercury Cougar was unique compared to its relative, the Mustang, its interior was identical. In general, the ’67-’68 Cougar shared a steering wheel, console and two pod dash that was remarkably similar to the Mustangs. That is until the Cougar XR-7, introduced in January 1967, which gave the car a more “European” style. The XR-7 model came with a wood-grained steering wheel, an overhead console and a simulated wood-grained dashboard that had a full set of black-faced competition instruments. The “European” theme was further accentuated with a series of Jaguar style toggle switches which were used to control the various interior lights. The XR-7 also had center automatic transmission shifter that was “T” shaped. The upholstery inside the Cougar XR-7 was leather and vinyl.
With the introduction of the Cougar, and more specifically the Cougar XR-7, Mercury finally had a pony car which became an icon for them for several decades.