The '71-'73 Cougar is the last one you could honestly call a pony car, although its size makes it pretty horsey. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe XR-7 puts its top down, but will its price make you pony up?
With Mercury potentially sitting with the Sword of Damocles hanging over its corporate head, it might be a good time to look at picking up one or more collectable Merc models. The list isn't very long as Mercury has been the Fancy-Ford division since its inception, and hasn't made that many notable rides over the years. None the less, there have been a few models that were differentiated sufficiently from their lesser platform mates to warrant carnal yearning.
One such Merc is the Cougar.
Long before body-shaper undergarments and plastic surgery made middle age women viable huntresses of younger men, a Cougar was just a car. In fact it was a Mustang wearing a tight dress and sequential tail lights. The wardrobe made all the difference because had the Cougar simply shared the basic Mustang body and adopted Mecury-specific grilles and lights, we probably wouldn't be having this discussion. Instead the Cougar received both a unique - and sleeker - exterior, and a distinctive interior that was much more upscale when compared to its coltish cousin.
In '71 the cat continued to share the Mustang platform, but with 3-inches appended to the wheelbase, starting the trend from pony to personal luxury car. That embiggening was in addition to both the ‘Stang and Cougar growing substantially larger than their predecessors that year. This 1971 Cougar XR-7 convertible is one of the more desirable models from the era, sporting the 285-bhp (pre-'72 gross rated) 351-4V V8 which hailed from Cleveland. Another covetable feature is the tranny. While Cougars are famous for having T-handle shifters, in this car it's a Hurst lever which is attached to a four-speed Toploader. Yummie. The seller has conveniently broken down all the car's specifications for you, and notes that out of the total 62,864 1971 Cougars only 47 were XR-7 convertibles with the four barrel 351 and three pedals. While quite the unique ride, the performance specs should be consistent with comparably equipped iron, and in 1971, Motor Trend's test of a 351C Cougar resulted in an 8.3-second zero to sixty run and 16.2 in the quarter.
Aside from the Marti Report (which includes the listing of Ginger Leather bucket seats for all you Coco fans!) there's not much in the way of condition detailed in the ad. There's no mention of miles, where it spent it winters, or whether it still collects alimony from any of its past spouses. The pictures show a car that appears to be in reasonably good shape, with all its parts where they belong. The pictures also show that this Cougar is brown, a color that we all know makes a car as magical as a unicorn, and as lucky as a shiny new penny. Well, maybe that's going a little too far, but if you're car's going to be all That ‘70s Show, you might as well go deep into character. And brown goes that deep.
As noted, this Cougar is willing to drop its top whenever the mood hits you, and unlike many a human Cougar this one looks good, top up or down. Inside it's brown all around, and there's plenty of room for you and three of your friends' moms to kick it in reasonably luxury. And unlike those Cougars, this one probably doesn't smell of well drinks and day-old Astroglide.
Ah, but Cougars, both feminine and Ford are accustomed to being pampered, and this one's no different. The seller claims that he planned to restore the big cat, and the interior does show several different shades of that magical brown. That being said, your standards may be lower than his, and you might be just fine with its current patina of age and experience..
If that's the case, then its asking price of $14,800 might not require the additional dollars of an interior kit or other updates. And, at least based on the pictures, this Cougar looks like it's ready to prowl just as is. But is the seller trying to relive bygone glories by asking nearly fifteen-large for this Mercury? Or, is that the going rate for a date with a topless Cougar?
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