1967-1973 Mercury Cougar

Early Mercury Cougar Design

The development effort of the Mercury Cougar was not an easy process, but it paid off in a handsomely tailored car that seemed to fit its intended niche exactly as planned. Up front was a minimal ponycar bumper, curved up into the front fenders and wrapped below a split vertical-bar grille that was not at all Pontiac-like.

1967 mercury cougar
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The shape of the fenders was a matter of some debate among the Cougar's designers.

The nose was a slim body-color divider bearing the Mercury emblem. A pair of headlights was concealed behind a flip-up door at each end of the grille and styled to match it.

Another emblem displaying a little chrome cat above "Cougar" lettering was mounted on the right headlight door. This was originally intended to carry only the cat on a field of black, but the people at Jaguar in England caught wind of it and took L-M to court, contending it was too close to their own badge. Jaguar won, so L-M added the car's name and everyone, it may be assumed, went away happy.

If this "electric shaver" front end was a tad busy, the rest of the Cougar design was elegantly simple and refreshingly restrained. The front fenderline flowed rearward at a slight upward angle, pausing to hop up in a small reverse curve at the C-pillar before trailing down toward the tail.

The bodysides were gently rounded at mid-height, and a sculptured "character line" was carved in longitudinally just above rocker panel level, curving smoothly over the fully open wheel arches to give them added definition.

1967 mercury cougar
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Hidden headlamps surfaced early and carried through to production.

The short rear deck combined with the long snout for the eager-to-run proportions so beloved in the Mustang, and the back panel echoed the grille theme with near full-width horizontal taillamps covered by similar chrome ribs and sporting three-element sequential turn signals, a gimmick picked up from the 1966 Thunderbird. The result was what Andren and Feaheny called "the luxury/sporty image."

With its more formal appearance, Cougar looked like the more expensive ponycar it was meant to be, with an "all-of-a-piece" aesthetic solidity that was somehow missing in Mustang. It also served to conceal the use of the Ford's inner structure, rear deck, and roof, though everything else was different.

Wheelbase measured 111 inches -- three inches longer than Mustang's -- overall length was 6.7 inches greater, and weight was about 200 pounds higher.

Despite these increases, there was precious little extra passenger and cargo room, and some interior furnishings like steering wheels, instruments, seats, and door hardware were obviously drawn from the same corporate parts bin.

Nevertheless, the Cougar cockpit was definitely better appointed than Mustang's, which helped justify the new model's base list price of $2,851, a $350 premium over the Ford.

Go to the next page for details on the 1967 Mercury Cougar.

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