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1967-1973 Mercury Cougar

1967 Mercury Cougar

The sporty new 1967 Mercury Cougar met its public on September 30,1966. Though the automotive press generally gave it rave reviews, Motor Trend magazine was most taken of all, sufficiently moved to give Cougar its "Car of the Year" Award.

Leading off its February 1967 story was this glowing description: "POP! ZOOM! DAZZLE! It takes a zoom lens to give a camera, even our $1,500 Nikon outfit, imagination enough to picture what we see in the new
Cougar . . ."

1967 mercury cougar xr-7
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The standard 1967 Mercury Cougar model with optional wire wheel covers.

As ever, Road & Track magazine was a bit more objective: "In its standard form, the Cougar can be described as a Mustang shell with longer, more expensive-looking sheet-metal, suspension refinements that make it ride somewhat more like a Thunderbird, and certain things that one expects on certain cars, like disappearing headlights."

L-M couldn't build enough Cougars to put one in every dealer by the introduction date, so division chief Zimmerman announced that an "unlimited stock" would be given to a selected dealer for test marketing.

The task fell to Principal Motors of Monterey, California, mainly because it was located in the land of Jaguars, Mercedes, and three-car incomes, an acid test of the new model's appeal.

1967 mercury cougar
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
An early Mercury Cougar at the end of the assembly line.

During the first month, Principal sold 29 cars out of its initial shipment of 30. Motor Trend projected that figure nationally to come up with a total eight percent market penetration. If the magazine was even close in its numbers, the Cougar was going to make a very large impression on the ponycar market and several other segments as well.

Television, radio, and magazine ads proclaimed Cougar as "The Man's Car." Mercury applied that bit of chauvinism to all its 1967 models, so it's ironic that Cougar turned out to be quite popular with women.

Other blurbs included "America's first luxury sports car at a popular price," and this evocative reference to the jungle cat: "Untamed Elegance."

More luxurious than the typical ponycar and sportier than the traditional luxury car, the Cougar was offered with enough accessories to make it almost anything the purchaser wanted it to be, the same personalizing-through-options strategy that had helped make Mustang such a huge success.

Mercury had more in store for its fans with another Cougar model, the XR-7. Learn more about it on the next page.

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