Welcome to Used Car Face Off, where we find two similar or similarly priced used cars and ask you which one you would buy. Choose wisely!
The 2015 Ford Mustang is going to be officially unveiled soon, if you haven't heard already. But of course you have, since the Mustang has proven to be the pony car that endures all. It's survived for nearly 50 years arguably by defining the class. Still, that doesn't mean there haven't been some convincing rivals over the years.
Instead of looking at Mustangs this weekend, I'm looking at Mustang competitors that died early or went in different directions. And the two cars assembled here prove it pays to go for something a little more off the wall.
The Mercury Cougar was the Mustang rival that was a Mustang. The Lincoln-Mercury division actually fielded a really attractive, more luxurious take on the blockbuster success that was the 'Stang. This 1968 Cougar represents a nice example of what you could get if you wanted a Mustang with a little more class – and what the Cougar was like before it became a boat-like Thunderbird copy.
This particular Cougar has the 289 V8 with an automatic. When new, it made 200 horsepower, and more powerful engine options were available for those who needed more propulsion. But that's not what the Cougar was really about. Just as the Mustang started out, the Cougar was more about looking good than going fast.
I like this particular Cougar a lot, despite the graininess of the photos provided. It's super original, it even comes with dealer-installed A/C because this is a personal luxury car, after all. And I think the styling of these early Cougars was never really bested. Of all the pony cars, it remains one of my favorites.
Ah, the AMC Javelin. I like the Javelin partly because I like AMC for its brave attempts and oddball status, but the Javelin is a great-looking pony car of the late '60s. This first-year '68 Javelin is a really nice, original example of the most obscure Mustang competitor.
The Cougar shown earlier has the little engine, but at least it's a V8. This Javelin is equipped with the 232 AMC I-6, which makes 145 burdened horses. I'd say it's a worse match for the AMC than the 289 in the Cougar because of the Javelin's muscular looks and image. This is a car that deserves to go quickly and forcefully, and the six doesn't do it justice.
Still, there's a lot to like about the basic nature of this particular Javelin, since many were highly optioned and glitzier than necessary. Apart from the wheels and the radio, this one has lasted 45 years relatively unmolested. Therefore you can appreciate the details like the really elegant rear end and the ergonomic (for 1968) interior.
It's a tough call, actually, but I'd go for the Javelin just for the hell of it. A V8 Cougar is what most of you would go for, I assume, but I can't turn down the better looking AMC. Plus, the Javelin didn't soldier on into the desperate, slow times of the late '70s/early '80s. It wasn't reborn as a Mitsubishi Eclipse-rival like the Cougar.
You can tell people that you didn't want a Mustang or a Camaro or anything common like that and you went for an AMC Javelin. You might get weird looks or respectful nods. Both are cool.