- A 1967 Mercury Cougar with an actual Cougar

The Mercury Cougar

A (kind of) short history on possibly the most underrated muscle car ever.

5w ago
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First Generation (1967 - 1970)

Introduced in 1967, the Cougar had many similarities with the Mustang. It had the same chassis and the same engine options which were the 200hp 289 V8 and the 225hp 390 V8. During 1968, the 289 was temporarily substituted with the 302 V8 that made 230hp, made for the new federal emissions standards. At mid-year, a lower compression 289 was available again. A two-barrel Marauder 390 was introduced for non-GT Cougars, making 280 hp. The newly introduced GT-E was introduced with a 427 cubic-inch V8, making 390 hp. Later in 1968 428 Cobra Jet Ram Air was introduced, and it made 335 hp. For the 1969 model revision, the engine line underwent further changes. The 289 was dropped entirely and a 351 cubic-inch V8 took its place as the standard engine. The 390 was offered only as a 320 hp four-barrel. Mercury introduced the Boss 302 V8 to the Cougar in the Cougar Eliminator, a top line muscle car. Some Cougar Eliminators go for over $100,000 today! A four-barrel street version produced 290 hp, while a 2x4-barrel racing version made the same 290 hp. The Cougar was never produced with the Boss 429 engine

The Boss 302 powered Cougar Eliminator

The Boss 302 powered Cougar Eliminator

Second generation (1971 - 1973)

1971 Cougar

1971 Cougar

The second generation had a huge facelift and got larger. This is when the Cougar began to shift from muscle car to sporty luxury car although the 2nd gen still had some muscle aspects. The second-generation Cougar underwent a revision of the engine options. For 1971, a 240 hp 351 two-barrel V8 was the standard engine with a 351 four-barrel V8 as an option. The 428 Cobra Jet was replaced by a 370 hp 429 Cobra Jet V8. In 1972, Ford adopted SAE net horsepower ratings, leading to a numerical decrease in advertised engine output. The 429 V8 was dropped, leaving the Cougar with three versions of the 351 V8. A 166 hp two-barrel version was the standard engine, with a 246 hp four-barrel offered as an option. The Cobra Jet version of the 351 made its debut, now producing 266 hp. For 1973, the four-barrel version of the 351 was dropped, leaving the two-barrel 351.

1971 Cougar XR7

1971 Cougar XR7

Third Generation (1974 - 1976)

1975 Cougar

1975 Cougar

The second generation had a facelift, but still had a resemblance of the previous generation. The Cougar was not a muscle car that much anymore. In 1974, four engines were offered for the Cougar. Two 351 cubic-inch V8s were carried over from the previous Cougar, including the standard 351 and optional 351 Cobra Jet V8s. From the full-size Mercury line, the Cougar also offered a 400 cubic inch V8 and 460 cubic inch V8 as options. For the first time ever, the model line was sold only with automatic transmissions.

Fourth Generation (1977 - 1979)

1979 Cougar

1979 Cougar

Again a major facelift on the Cougar, looks more like a Cadillac or Lincoln than the original Mustang style. It is not a muscle car whatsoever now. The XR-7 variant would be a personal luxury car. The 4th generation would be the first Cougar generation to offer a wagon model. The 4th generation Cougar had a revision of its engine options, largely in the interest of fuel economy. The 460 cubic inch V8 was removed, leaving a 173 hp 400 cubic inch V8 as the highest displacement engine. For non XR-7 Cougars, the standard engine was a 302 cubic-inch V8, producing 134 hp. Station wagons received a standard 149 hp 351 V8, with a 161 hp 351M V8 offered as an option in coupes and sedans. All 4th generation Cougars had a 3-speed automatic transmission.

1977 Cougar Wagon

1977 Cougar Wagon

Fifth Generation (1980 - 1982)

1982 Cougar

1982 Cougar

The 5th generation Cougar had a facelift and got smaller. The XR-7 stayed a personal luxury car. The Cougar XR7 was offered with two V8 engines. Shared with the Mercury Marquis/Colony Park, a 4.2 L V8 was standard, with a 4.9 L V8 offered as an option; both engines were paired with a 4-speed Ford AOD overdrive automatic. The mid-size Cougar was offered with its own engine lineup. Shared with the Fairmont/Zephyr and Mustang/Capri, a 2.3 L inline-4 was the standard engine. A 3.3L inline 6 and a 4.2L V8 were offered as options; the four and six-cylinder engines were paired with a 3-speed automatic. In 1982, an all new 3.8L V6 replaced the inline 6. The engine would be used by the Cougar and Thunderbird through their 1997 discontinuation. The 4.9 L V8 option was withdrawn from the Fox platform, leaving the 4.2 L engine as the sole V8 offering for both the Cougar and Cougar XR-7.

Sixth Generation (1983 - 1988)

1987 Cougar

1987 Cougar

The 6th generation had a major facelift, it looked nothing like the 4th and 5th gen. It was also a bit bigger and less good looking in my opinion. For its 1983 launch, the sixth-generation Cougar offered a 120 hp 3.8 L V6 from its predecessor as a standard engine and a 130 hp 4.9 L V8 made its return as an optional engine. In 1986, the V8 was changed to sequential fuel injection, increasing the output to 150 hp. In 1988, the 4.9 L V8 was re-tuned to 155 hp. From 1984 to 86, the XR7 was equipped with a 2.3 L turbocharged inline-4; shared with the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe, the engine produced 145 hp with an automatic transmission or 155 hp with a manual transmission. For 1987, the XR7 dropped the turbocharged engine and the manual in favor of the 4.9 L V8. The 2.3L inline-four was paired with a 5-speed manual transmission and an automatic transmission was optional. The 3.8 L V6 was paired with a 3-speed automatic.

Seventh Generation (1989 - 1997)

1997 Cougar XR-7 Sport

1997 Cougar XR-7 Sport

The 7th gen probably had the biggest facelift other than the 8th gen. The only engine available was the 3.8L V6 until 1991 when the 4.9L V8 was brought back. Not much else change in this generation.

Eighth Generation (1999 - 2002)

1999 Cougar

1999 Cougar

The 8th and final generation of the Cougar had the biggest design change as I stated earlier. The eighth generation was super unique and in my opinion looks much better than the 6th and 7th gen Cougars. The only two engines were the 125hp 2.0L inline 4 and the 170hp 2.5L V6.

Thanks for reading!

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Comments (7)

  • Love the old Cougars we in UK only got the 8th Gen

      1 month ago
  • The 7th XR7 was a blast. Had a friend who had one in high school. Talked him into some hooliganism. That thing would get up and RUN. Comfortable too. Quite the machine for it's day.

      1 month ago
  • 1999 one was good (until the engine *cri*)

      1 month ago
  • I like all generations from the first to the fifth but the later ones look stupid

      1 month ago
  • Cougar Eliminator. What a name. I always loved these cars, underrated as you say

      1 month ago
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