The big news for the 1969 Mercury Cougar was a trio of new models. The Mercury Cougar GT-E and the Mercury Cougar XR-7G
were gone, but the hoped-for convertible arrived in standard arid XR-7
trim, along with the Eliminator hardtop, "inspired" by "Dyno" Don
Nicholson's world-record-setting Cougar funny car.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The Mercury Cougar convertible made a belated debut for 1969.
the high-dollar GT-E, the Eliminator was built for more modest
pocketbooks, though for the same general purpose. Though listed as a
separate model, dealers had to specify two option groups to come up
with an Eliminator.
The $130 "Eliminator Equipment Package" included
high-back bucket seats; special Instrument panel with tachometer,
Rallye clock, trip odometer, and warning lights; front air dam; rear
spoiler; styled steel wheels; blackout grille; hood scoop;
remote-control rearview mirror; performance axle; and bodyside tape
stripe. (Why a tape stripe would be added as part of an "equipment"
package is anyone's guess.)
To that was added the $70 "Eliminator I
Group," made up of black curb moldings, "Rim-Blow" steering wheel,
custom door trim, rear seat armrest, door-mounted courtesy lights, and
padded interior moldings. Interiors could be had in black, blue, or
white, with either black or blue carpeting. Exterior paint choices were
Competition Orange, Yellow, Blue, or White, with black or white
All Mercury Cougars wore thoroughly revised styling for 1969. The
familiar 111-inch wheelbase was retained, but overall length stretched
by 3.5 inches, width swelled by three inches, and height came down a
half inch. These changes made the 1969 Mercury Cougar appear much sleeker and larger
than its predecessors, but also less cohesive and individual.
distinctive two-piece grille was replaced by a full-width
horizontal-bar assembly, with a bulge where the divider had been. The
wide sequential taillights remained, but they were now concave Instead
of flush-fitting. A Buick-like bodyside sweepspear curved down from
just above the front bumper to the bottom lead edge of the rear wheel
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The instrument panel of the 1969 Mercury Cougar convertible was somewhat busier than previous models.
In all, the 1969 Cougar lacked some of the purity that had set the
1967-1968 design apart from rival ponycars. Whether the new convertible
and Eliminator outweighed the styling negatives is unclear. What was
clear was that sales were still slipping. In fact, they now fell below
the 100,000-unit level for the first time.
At least Cougar didn't
suffer alone. The ponycar market had peaked, prices were going up, and
emission controls and rising insurance rates were starting to take the
fun out of such cars. It was a portent of things to come.
Once again, Cougar ended a model year with a different
engine roster than at the start. Taking over at the bottom was a
revised small-block with a 1/2-inch longer (3.50-inch) stroke on the
same 4.00-inch bore as the 289 and 302, which worked out to 351 cubes.
two-barrel base form it put out a claimed 250 horsepower, with 290 horsepower optional via four-barrel carb. The two-barrel 390 was dropped, but the
four-barrel version returned at Its rated 1967 output, 320 horsepower.
the list was a new 428-cid big-block called "Cobra Jet," replacing the
427 and available with or without Ram-Air Induction. Curiously, both
were rated at 335 horsepower, though the force-fed version undoubtedly had
A functional hood scoop and racing-style hood lockpins came with
Ram-Air, while all 428-equipped cars got a heavy-duty radiator,
handling package, and E70 fiberglass-belted tires as standard. The
four-barrel 351 was standard for the Eliminator.
on any offering were more or less dictated by engine. The CJ, for
example, required either four-speed or heavy duty automatic.
After a false start in 1968, a performance version of the 302
called the Boss officially bowed at mid-year. There were two setups, a
four-barrel street version rated at 290 horsepower and a racing unit with dual
quads. The latter, basically the Trans-Am engine from the racing
Mustang Boss 302, had the same rated output, though that was just a
ruse to quell cries from the insurance companies.
that tested the Boss Cougar found the high-revving small-block a bit
weak for the over-3,500-pound curb weight despite the mandatory
four-speed manual transmission. Late in the model year, a still larger
big-block, derived from Ford's NASCAR engine, with 429 cid and a
nominal 370 horsepower, may have been installed in a few Cougars, though it's
unclear whether it actually was.
Sadly, the Mercury Cougar was in its decline. Read more about the underperforming Cougars of the early 1970s on the next page.
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