Welcome to Found Around Town, where we feature cars we find in a city where interesting ones are rare because everyone drives a Prius or rides a bicycle: Austin, Texas.
I've decided I need to start hanging around the Whole Foods parking garage more often. When I had lunch there the other day, I saw a Porsche 944S, an almost-pristine E30 convertible, and the cleanest and nicest Datsun Maxima I have ever seen. Apparently Whole Foods shoppers drive some really interesting cars. Who knew?
Any of those would have made for a great Found Around Town feature, but I went with this very attractive classic Mercury Cougar because it was my favorite. (Also, it was parked, and the other cars weren't.)
Cougar is actually a pretty storied nameplate for the Mercury brand, but it's safe to say the results have been mixed over the years. Lesser Cougars include the boxy grandpa car built on the Thunderbird platform between 1989 and 1997, as well as the New Edge-styled FWD coupe made between 1999 and 2002. I don't think anyone misses those cars.
But what we have here is a Cougar of the first generation variety, the one that was essentially an extended wheelbase version of the original Mustang. It follows a similar styling pattern as other muscle cars from that area, including its coupe body and long hood, but has some great styling cues on its own. I like the "electric shaver" grille, the matching wheels, and the little Mercury and Cougar emblems on the front. Love the vinyl top, too.
This striking, fire engine red Cougar I found carries the XR-7 trim, which was the most luxurious one available with a fake wood dash and leather or vinyl seats. I don't know of the car has been restored but it looks pretty great today.
One could think of the Cougar as the 1960s version of the Infiniti G37 — a luxury-minded, sporty coupe that's based on a similar but smaller car. It's a muscle car for a gentleman who likes to have fun but is too grown up for the Mustangs and Chevelles of the world. It's also good enough for a classy lady like Neko Case too.