1967 MERCURY Cougar 289-2 bbl MPG= 17 Hwy Print
Written by Double Dragon
Saturday, 04 October 2014 22:10

1967 MERCURY Cougar 289-2 bbl MPG= 17 Hwy


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown


The Mercury Cougar was introduced over summer 1966 using an ingenious and extravagant ad campaign. Journalists were tantalized with hints of the new car when reports from 'a hunter' appraised them of his progress tracking a Cougar. By the time the car was unveiled at sunset August 2, 1966 on St. Thomas in the Bahamas curiosity about the new car had been taken to the fever pitch.

Lee Iaccoca who is widely known as the father of the Mustang asked his pal, Vic Damone to handle the press introduction. Damone drove a new white 1967 Cougar down the ramp of a WWII aircraft carrier to the beach in St. Thomas where he proceeded to give the audience a great show. The Cougar made a real impression and every car magazine seems to have tested one in the first year of production.

The first Cougars provided to magazines were prototypes with slightly different specs than regular production models. Aside from getting some better equipment these cars supplied provided a higher build quality than cars that would be pumped off the line in volume. A CAR LIFE July 1967 revisit to the Cougar caused them to revise their glowing opinion of a Cougar prototype they tested due to shoddy build quality on the test car they received 6 months later.

The general trend testers agreed upon was that the Cougars were smoother but somewhat slower with marginally less miles per gallon than a Mustang running the same drive train.

The 1967 Cougar adds 3 extra inches wheelbase and 6.7 inches length compared to a 1967 Mustang. The 1967 Mustang was already wider and 2 inches longer than the 1965/6 Mustangs. Mustang added 2 inches to its track for 1967 (58.0) but Cougar track is a shade wider at 58.1. Cougar width is 71.2 compared with Mustang at 70.9. The trunks are similar size (Cougar 9.1 cu ft vs Mustang's 9.0), with the Cougar using the same gas tank as Mustang's 16 gallon tank. The majority of Cougar's extra space appears in the front and rear passenger area.

123 pounds of sound deadening material in the Cougar roof, floors and engine compartment partially explains why the 1967 Mustang weighs 2,973 lbs curb while the Cougar is 3,110 lbs curb.

CAR AND DRIVER Oct 1966 drove a prototype Cougar set up with the larger 6 inch wide wheels (only available on the 390 in regular production versions) combined with manual steering and brakes (drums all round) and an automatic transmission. CD was disappointed with the optional 289 225 HP 4 barrel 0-60 MPH time of 10.1 seconds. The 289 achieved a top speed of 117 MPH with the 3.00:1 axle.

In keeping with the Mercury marketing vision ("for the man on his way up to a Thunderbird") CD summed the Cougar up as a compromise between Thunderbird luxury and Mustang sportiness making the 'just adequate' 289 engine the most appropriate engine to match the car's intended use. CD was correct: the majority of Cougars were outfitted with a 289 (not the 4 barrel but the lesser 2 barrel) and it was a reasonable compromise machine in that form. CD recorded 12-17 MPG using premium fuel.

MOTOR TREND Oct 1966 compared the new Camaro and Cougar to the Mustang. MT also predicted that the 289-225 HP engine would be the best compromise although they didn't find it lacking and in fact felt it was powerful enough for all but the leadfoots.

POPULAR MECHANICS March 1967 compared a new 1967 Cougar XR7 390 GT to an Aston Martin DB6. Mercury; who footed the bill, intentionally chose an exotic European sports car to run against the Cougar with the European influenced XR7 styling package. Retired Indy 500 champ Rodger Ward did the testing at the Las Vegas Stardust International Speedway. As expected, the DB6 lapped faster, and the XR7 accelerated more fiercely (0 to 60 was 6.1 seconds). The 4 speed Cougar with disc brakes didn't embarrass itself in the comparison which is saying something running against a true sports car.

In 1967 Bob Estes Lincoln Mercury (Inglewood, CA) entered a 1967 Mercury Cougar 289 V8 into the Mobil Economy Run from Los Angeles, CA to Detroit, Michigan. The 2,837.8 mile trip was run from April 4-9, 1967 by Ginny Sims as driver. The Bob Estes Cougar posted higher MPG figures than a lighter Mustang 2+2 also in the event (from Galpin Ford, Sepulveda, CA). The Cougar managed 20.9925 MPG over the route while the Mustang came in with 20.7281 MPG. The class winner was a Barracuda V8 driven by Scott Harvey with 22.3198 MPG. A Camaro V8 from Nickey Chevrolet (Chicago, IL) used more gas with a final score of 19.2757 MPG.

POPULAR MECHANICS June 1967 tallied up owner's reports for the 1967 Cougar and found that the 289 delivered 16 MPG in the city (23% of 289 respondents). 15% and 17% of owners were getting 14 or 15 MPG in the city. The highway figure of 18 MPG was reported by about 22% of owners. Around 13/ 14% of owners saw highway figures of 17, 19 and 20 MPG.

In 1967 Bob Estes Lincoln Mercury entered a 1967 Mercury Cougar V8 into the Mobil Economy Run from Los Angeles, CA to Detroit, Michigan. The 2,837.8 mile trip was run from April 4-9, 1967 with Ginny Sims driving. The Bob Estes Cougar came in 3rd place for compact V8 competitors and actually finished slightly ahead of a 1967 Mustang 2+2 entered by Galpin Ford (Sepulveda, CA) and driven by Fran Foster. Despite the Cougar weighing more, the Mustang only eked out 20.7281 MPG. The winner of the class was a Plymouth Barracuda driven by Scott Harvey which scored 22.3198 MPG.

The few owners with 390 engines reported 12, 13 or 14 MPG in the city and either 14 or 17 on the highway.


1967 OOCC Mercury Cougar Hwy MPG= 17

1967 cougar owner manual cover

This 1967 Mercury Cougar was purchased new September 15, 1967 at George Black Motors Ltd in Burnaby, BC by Vancouver Quilting Manufacturing Ltd. See a story about George Black under BRITISH COLUMBIA/ BURNABY, BC in the DEALERSHIPS section of this website. The new 1968 models were due out soon. The company owner of Vancouver Quilting Manufacturing Ltd likely received a good deal on last year's model. The Cougar was so popular that Mercury left them alone except for the addition of some safety items (side marker lights and 2 spoke padded steering wheel). The owner of this Cougar saved on a car that was contemporary with the new 1968 Cougars.

1967 cougar owner manual warranty george black

The VIN number of this Cougar 7F91C619162 decodes as:

7= 1967 Model year

F= Dearborn, Michigan final assembly plant

91= Standard hardtop

C= 289-2 Barrel engine

619162= Sequential number

This Cougar was used quite a bit in the first few months of service which leads to speculation that some major road trips occurred in this car. Here is the coupon from the back of the owner's manual validating a service performed by George Black with 12,121 miles already accumulated as of Jan 3, 1968. The Cougar had piled on 4,000 miles a month already.

1967 cougar owner manual service record


In the specifications section of the Owner's Manual some notes appear in the area where the conversion for Canadian to US gallons appears. Someone has worked out the distance traveled between a fill up of 14.1 gallons. The calculation indicates 17 MPG.

1967 cougar owner manual spec page gas log

The final result 17 MPG is pretty impressive. We don't know for certain but can assume that this was a highway trip since the final number fits the typical highway figure obtained from these cars. The car also was run down to nearly empty which frequently happens on a highway trip. The tank is not usually drained so much in city commuting. The average owner fills up once a week and this typically only entails about 8 or 9 gallons per fill. Curb weight of a 'stripped' 1967 Cougar was 3,119 pounds. The 3 speed automatic transmission versions were 3,126 pounds curb.

Last Updated ( Friday, 19 March 2021 23:06 )