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Written by Double Dragon
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 18:47

1968 MERCURY Cougar- Jason


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown

The Mercury Cougar had just completed a very successful first year run with the 1967 model year. No one dared tamper with the popular car when the 1968 model year rolled around. The looks of the car were left alone but some minor upgrades appeared.

In order to comply with new government safety and emissions regulations the side marker lights were added to the car. The popular 3 spoke deep dish 1967 steering wheel was replaced with a padded 2 spoke wheel which kept the rim on an even plane with the padded spokes. Hidden from view the inner assembly of the steering column was designed to collapse when hit by severe forces in an accident. The steering column absorbs most of the impact when the driver hits the wheel instead of the wheel injuring the driver.

The new 302 engine for 1968 was essentially a 289 that had been stroked. Achieving larger total cubic inch capacity via a proportionately longer stroke was a popular trend used by domestic auto manufacturers in 1968. The longer stroke provided a cleaner burn. In most cases the 'Big Three' took existing engines, stroked them and installed emissions equipment. The resulting extra cubes also compensated for lost performance caused by emissions related tinkering. Originally intended as the standard 'base' engine, as production got underway the 302 became a 'step up' option automatically added to any Cougars ordered with the decor group option of the XR-7 option.

Greg bought this 1968 Cougar from a Bellevue, Washington dealership. The VIN decodes as follows:


8= 1968 Model year

R= San Jose, California final assembly plant

91= Cougar standard hardtop

F= 302-2 barrel engine

The final digits of the VIN are not shown here to protect owner privacy. The door tag decodes as follows:

Body 65A= Standard hardtop

Color T= Cardinal Red exterior color

Trim 2D= Dark red crinkle vinyl & dark red rhino pattern vinyl

Date 18M= December 18, 1967 scheduled build date

DSO 54= Seattle, Washington dealer area

Axle 5= 3.00:1 ratio non-locking type

Transmission W= C4 Automatic

The Cougar was used heavily for 4 years as a daily driver to and from Greg's work. Greg is a big guy and caused some wear on the driver's seat as well as problems with a seat rail. In 1971 Greg had moved onto a Harley Davidson motorcycle and the Cougar was 'temporarily' parked in the garage. Once the Cougar sat long enough it wouldn't start anymore which perpetuated its hibernation into a limbo for decades.

The garage kept the Cougar in good shape aside from one exceptional incident. A bathroom above the garage flooded and also flooded the Cougar. The car has water stains on the original paint which may be possible to buff out. Other than this mishap the Cougar lay dormant until a new family member arrived on the scene. Jason married into Greg's family and immediately began asking Greg what he intended to do with the Cougar. After sufficient prodding, Greg stated he was willing to discuss selling the car to Jason if he could get it running.

Jason got to work. The car needed ignition, alternator, battery, a water pump and a new radiator. He took off the valve covers and cleaned them up, then scrubbed the original hubcaps clean. By the time it was all done the Cougar was cleaned up and running again. The discussion about selling the car was short. Greg gave Jason the car as a gift. Greg was pleased to see the car running again and signed over the registration. Greg is very pleased with his new car and has started to display Hot Wheels models that people drop through his window.

The paint looks to be the original factory Cardinal Red with 2 thin white pinstripes just below the length of the bodycrease. The glass is all original factory glass as are the wiper arms, hubcaps and trim. Inside, everything is in good shape except the driver's seat which is split and sloping off its rail. As mentioned before, Greg is a big biker guy and the Cougar seat didn't handle his bulk easily. There are no dents in the car or the trim or the hubcaps. Road rash is almost non existent on the front nose.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 29 July 2014 12:04 )