69 Mercury Cougar XR7

Hi,

My name is Matt Wilson and I now own this rare 1969 Cougar XR7. Tracy and I are really enjoying the car very much using it as my daily driver.

I traded the super rare 1967 Ambassador 4spd station wagon project for this car.

A true car enthusiast, Dan Curtis made this Cougar available to me as he will get the Ambassador wagon looking it’s best and on the road soon! He enjoys all makes but has a soft spot for the old AMC’s. Please check out his great cars and hobby shop here.

1969 Cougar XR7,351 Performance Group !

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Took the Cougar XR7 out to enjoy a early New Year dinner this weekend. Took this picture of Tracy with the Cat for fun.
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Auto art of my Cougar by www.dannywhitfield.com
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Below is a message that was sent to me about my 1969 Cougar XR7,
That is a stunningly beautiful car. I love all Cougars up thru 1979, but yours is really something special. Here’s the bizarre thing for me: it has three things I don’t normally like on cars – green paint, white vinyl top, and pinstripes. It’s shocking to me how all three of those look so great on your car. The deep forest green paint is nothing short of gorgeous. And the way the white top and the pinstripe match the light silver rocker panel to tie the whole car together – wow – I never would have imagined that I could like this color combo so much, but it’s truly a knockout. So cool that you share this beauty with so many people who need a “lift” in their days. Congrats on the neat news story.

P.S. I surely do miss “The Sign of the Cat”!

Always a nice day when guest at  Cancer Treatment Centers of  America get to enjoy the Cougar and share some of their old memories with me. One couple even owned a old Cougar they had bought brand new !

 

This is a letter that was written by the previous owner,

I am just testing the waters. I am trying to restore my Ambassador and don’t have the funds or the place to do it. What I do have is a very very nice 1969 Mercury Cougar XR7 That I may be looking to sell to finance the resto. The car is 90% original with new paint, top, and fresh engine and a few other things.

I have all the original parts and all documentation since day one including all registrations and original loan paperwork. The car still has all the inspection marks and chalk marks underneath and would be an easy concourse rest. As it is it is a great driver that has been accross the country and back a couple of times with no problems. Buy it and go on the power tour without spending a dime. Car is completely numbers matching and I have all the proof

A few little sometic issues but nothing that shows at ten feet away. No rust anywhere and always a dry southwest car. 351 M Code engine is all standard with new rings and bearings and all seals and gaskets replaced. A/C is all there and will work if converted or filled with R-12. I have many new or NOS parts to go with it. Two years ago this car would have brought $25,000 but I am open to offers because I actually got the fabled BARN FIND deal and don’t have much into it.

I know my Ambassador will never hope to be worth one half of what this car is now but I have had her so long and we have been on so many adventures that I need to save her. If you are in my area and do quality body work using real metal I might even work out a trade. I have been collecting parts for my Ambassador for close to twenty years and it’s time. She is in good shape with only very minor rust issues but I hate to see her go down hill. Pictures of the Ambo can be seen posted from the Las Vegas show earlier this month.

 

1969 was a transitional year for the Mercury Cougar, as new engines were made available and others were discontinued. One of the new engine options was the 351W, and Ford wasted no time giving the Cougar a performance package all its own. Called the “351 Performance Group,” it included a 351 4-V engine, appearance upgrades including the “power dome” dual hood stripes in black or silver, and the competition handling package that added front and rear sway bars, heavy duty springs, and “high performance” tires. Follow the jump to continue reading…

Us with the Cougar and other toys..

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Here’s where things get fuzzy: on the oft-cited Kevin Marti reports, the 351 Performance Package shows up as the “GT Equipment Group.” Check an original sales invoice, like mine above, and you won’t see this verbiage used. As this has been the case for many years now, the 351 Performance Package has sort of morphed into the GT Performance Group myth.

Cougar XR7 transformation !

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All 351 4V cars received the “M” VIN code, but the 351 Performance Group was a separate package that not all 351 4V cars came with. Its a desirable and relatively uncommon option.

A quick look at “Cougar by the Numbers” shows that of the 23,914 1969 XR-7 hardtops, there were 6,803 with the “M” code 351 4V, and only 1,200 with the 351 Performance Group. It was also ordered on 1,466 standard hardtops, 251 standard convertibles, and 347 XR-7 converts (3,264 cars out of 100,085 total ’69 Cougars, or right around 3%). That may or may not qualify as “rare,” but it’s certainly not common.

 

A few quick videos of this fine Cat,

Below are a few really cool old Cougar videos and commercials,

The race at the end of this old clip is fantastic!

Some Cougar history written back in 1997,

The name was already in the family. It was one of the finalists when the eventual winner, Mustang, was chosen for Ford’s ponycar a few years earlier. The name “Cougar” sends a strong message of sleek style and easy gliding, but the powers went another direction in 1964 for Mustang, opting for the speed through the prairie feel.

In retrospect, this allowed for a perfect fit for the next time a need for a name came up. The decision to develop a car in the Mercury product line gave the innovators a chance to improve upon a proven concept. The car-buying public bought Mustangs in record numbers. Now, the company was looking to up the ante with a similar-sized car (as far as perception) with more emphasis on style and comfort. The end result also sold far more than expected.

In reality, the Cougar began well before the Mustang. Known as “T-7,” the project to develop this car languished until Ford’s Pony bolted out of the gate. Now, with renewed enthusiasm, engineers went to work on T-7. And since no one was using the Cougar name, it was attached to this project. Like the Mustang, the Cougar design came as a result of several teams working independently to come up with the plan.

The design was finalized in early 1965 as a “man’s car that a Mustang owner could step up to .” Ford believed there needed to be a step between the Mustang and Thunderbird. That part about it being a “man’s car” will be addressed later.

The cat was let out of the bag in early 1966. Publicity campaigns started letting the world know of Mercury’s plans and the name of the car before the first model was available for sale. The hype leading up to the showroom debut late in 1966 was a multi-pronged effort to fan the fires of the smaller-car buyer.

The world finally got to see the car after media previews in California and the Bahamas. The buying frenzy had begun with strong sales from the first transaction in late 1966. Optimistic projections targeted Cougar sales at 85,000. It was nowhere near the Mustang launch figures, but it was still a heady task to put up that kind of number on an initial offering. When the response started to take shape, production facilities realized this figure was too low. When it was over for the first model year, the car had sold in excess of 150,000 and positioned itself in a respectable position among new ventures.

The Cougar’s drawing card was its looks. The Mustang had been on the scene for a few years, selling well. Because the Mustang was considered the root of the idea, there was plenty about the Mustang beneath the Cougar, but the buyers were seeing from the outside in. In its preview of the new Cougar, Motor Trend (Aug. ’66) labeled the cat “Certainly one of the prettier cars of the coming year.” In its buyers’ guide later in the year (November), Motor Trend also acknowledged, “And while it shares a great deal with the wildly successful Mustang, the Cougar has its own aura and personality, so it isn’t just a repeat of the car that started the whole rage.” That same magazine selected the Cougar as “Car of the Year” for 1967 for good reason.

This was the image the designers had been looking for. In the first marketing campaigns, the Cougar was called “Untamed Elegance,” sending the message that strikes a responsive chord that this car is different. Those differences were stunning and remain an integral part of automotive history to this day

From the unveiling of the car until today, one of the most distinguishing features of the earlier-model Cougars is the “hideaway” headlights. Run on a vacuum-actuating operation, the headlights tuck away to yield a continuation of the grille, itself a strong style point. This unique treatment helped blend the style throughout the whole car, taking a necessary evil (headlights) and making it part of the design concept.

Another element of the early Cougar that drew rave reviews was the use of the sequential turn signals in the taillights. It’s something often imitated, but never duplicated, at least with the success of the Cougar. The floating banks of vertical bars at the rear blended perfectly with the grillework at the front, giving the car an aesthetic balance.

In general, the Cougar’s overall styling allowed the Mercury line to establish its own niche. The car was clearly not a Mustang. It was a few inches longer, had a bigger wheelbase, and was packed full of the types of goodies the upscale buyer would be seeking. In fact, one of the drawing cards happened to be the number of items found optional on other cars that came standard on Cougar. The 3-inch-longer wheelbase translated into rear-seat legroom. The suspension and ride received rave reviews in testing, even under trying conditions.

The ’67 models utilized the popular 289 V-8 engine, offered in three versions (including a low-compression export), and the 390 Marauder big-block. The engine choices were even better when the ’68 models were introduced, with the bulk of the production done with 302 engines beneath the bonnet. For the first time, Cougars were available with 427ci and 428 Cobra Jet engines, though the production number of each was small. The 351 Windsor came into the mix in 1969. The following year saw both Cleveland and Windsor versions of the 351 available in a Cougar.

It’s clear there was an emphasis on performance in addition to style with the more powerful engines finding a home in the platform. While this may be running parallel to the upgrades in Mustang engines, there is one element Cougar fans point to with pride. In 1968, you could get a 427 in a Cougar, but not a Mustang.

At the start, Cougar owners preferred the automatic transmission, with nearly 80 percent of the cars manufactured with an automatic.

At first, Mercury offered only two basic body styles. More than 80 percent of the cars made in the first year were standard coupes (hardtops).

In very early ’67, the XR-7 (“XR” stands for “Experimental Racing” and the 7 may have come from the original T-7 designation of the project) was added and proved to be a popular choice. In 1969, the standard convertible and XR-7 convertible were added to the array, and buyers snatched up the drop-tops while they were still in style. By 1972, Mercury was making more of the XR-7 convertibles than the standard, but production numbers had started to wane. The XR-7 convertible numbers, as well as overall production numbers, picked up in 1973.

While the Cougars of the first generation attracted so much attention, subsequent models have developed their own backers. The car took on a different look to closely emulate its Ford siblings. By the mid-’80s, the Cougar had become a carbon copy of the Thunderbird (interesting when you remember the car was developed as a bridge to the T-bird).

As the years hurtled toward the 21st century, Cougar searched for its own identity in a world of cookie-cutter domestic cars. Mercury continued to build the car until a decision about a year ago to terminate the brand, one of four product lines ousted from the Ford family. It’s become a sad end to an American icon, arguably the car that bolstered the Mercury line into prominence among a competitive automotive society. The Mercury line was once seen in the shadow of Ford, but the Cougar changed all that. The popularity of the car allowed Mercury to position itself as a player. The success of the Cougar led to the idea of quality “at the Sign of the Cat,” utilizing a snarling cougar perched atop a Lincoln Mercury sign. It was the success of the Cougar that allowed the company to claim “Lincoln Mercury leads the way.” The slogan “Try Cougar and see how great a winner can be” urged buyers to consider the car and check out the luxury offerings available at the Mercury showroom, at times keeping them from the Ford dealer down the street.

Yes, Cougar history is one that is filled with plenty of areas of automotive pride. In preparation for a look at the 35 years of Cougar, we sought opinions from different members of present-day Cougar Clubs regarding these cars. These opinions were given in an online survey of Cougar owners who are directly connected to the product and well-suited to understanding the nuances that complete this car.

 

Just some of my family’s cars,trucks and motorcycles over the years,

Other cool cars from my past. My family has always enjoyed cars and the freedom they provide.

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1969 Hurst SC/Rambler action videos.

A great time in my life at Barrett Jackson auto auction,2013    A couple videos and it was a blast to drive my old Hurst SC/Rambler over the block ! I tried to do AMC “Loud & Proud”

Thanks to Doug who was the owner of my old SC at time of the auction for letting me drive the car over the block !

 

Getting the most out  of life!

2 Responses to 69 Mercury Cougar XR7

  1. Jim Tuma says:

    Matt , Tracy… Great pic’s of you and the cat @ the Wigwam. Joey , one of my bellmen said you cruised by on Thurs , so I missed you. He also indicated your car is even more impressive in person, NICE. I would love to have a conversation with you about just about anything , but specifically would like to show you my Cougar.
    I’m 9 miles north of you , just north of Cactus and east of Dysart.
    or email me. Sunday afternoon I will just be drifting in and out watching Pocono after 11:30am tomorrow. Of course , I will buy beverages. Look forward to your observations and input. Thx, jim

  2. William Miron says:

    I met you at a car show, think it was at the Harley Davidson Shop. Liked your car very much and am still interested in it. Hope you still have it and if and when you get the urge to let it go will contact me first. Thanks and good luck in all your endeavors.

    Bill

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