Home Car Stories Alley Finds 1968 MERCURY Cougar XR7- Alameda, CA
1968 MERCURY Cougar XR7- Alameda, CA PDF Print E-mail
Written by Double Dragon
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 15:49

1968 MERCURY Cougar XR7- Alameda, CA


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown

68 xr7 red alameda ca logo

The Cougar was introduced with great success in fall of 1966 as a 1967 model. Also introduced at this time was the Chevrolet Camaro. Both the Cougar and Camaro (interestingly, the Camaro was originally going to be named the Panther) were created as answers to the very successful Ford Mustang. Because of the Mustang's creation and dominance of the market, all the cars adhering to its formula are known as ponycars.

68 XR7 red alameda front

Plymouth wasn't sitting this war out. Their Barracuda actually beat the Mustang to market by two weeks back in spring of 1964 but was swamped by the runaway success of the more appealing styling Ford gave to the Mustang. A redesign for 1967 better disguised the Barracuda's Valiant origins.

68 cougar xr7 alameda ca driver nose nieghborhood

The Camaro duplicated the proportions and dimensions of the Mustang closely and quickly offered more potent drivetrains. If you were willing to shell out the money for a Shelby Mustang it could handle a Camaro, otherwise GM had an edge.

68 cougar xr7 alameda ca driv side

However, the majority of ponycar buyers simply weren't there to beat the next guy out of the stoplight. The masses ordered an inline six and enjoyed the sporty looks, nimble handling, and economy of ownership.

68 XR7 red alameda dr side

Mercury approached the ponycar wars from an entirely unique perspective. Eschewing drag strip prowess and crass Americanisms Mercury pushed the Cougar as an inexpensive Jaguar. Mercury arranged for a performance comparison with an Aston Martin but the testing wasn't restricted to the drag strip. Testing included a road course and a professional racing driver hired to evaluate the two cars.

68 XR7 red alameda ca p side

Mercury's elegant European angle was hammered home in January, 1967 when the XR7 option was released for the Cougar. This option essentially completed the Cougar in the manner that Mercury intended the Cougar to be perceived.

68 cougar xr7 alameda ca driv side rear

This particular Cougar appears to be a 1968 XR7.

68 cougar xr7 red alameda ca int

It is missing the rear reflective markers that were added for 1968 but the steering wheel is the 2 spoke thick padded one that replaced the more popular three spoke 1967 version. Its easier to leave off the rear markers in a repaint than it is to switch out a steering wheel, and frankly no one would want to install the 1968 wheel in place of the 1967 one.

68 XR7 red alameda ca rear

Note the original California 'black plate' on the Cougar. This is one of two 1968 Cougar XR7s with black plates which are frequently seen around Alameda. Both are daily drivers that can be seen parked around town. These cars are used normally but hold up mainly due to the good climate and regular care.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 10 February 2015 18:23 )