A half century of Mercury Cougar history will be celebrated next weekend June 3rd and 4th at the Fleetwood Country Cruize In car show, at the Steve Plunkett Estate in London Ontario ( 9282 Elviage Drive ).
ACTRESS FARAH FAWCETT
IN 1970'S MERCURY COUGAR COMMERCIAL
The Cougar was first introduced as a sister to the Ford Mustang in 1967, and quickly became a performance symbol for the Mercury division. A half century has now passed and the Cougar is no longer in production but the car was successful in its various forms and had real impact on North America's automotive landscape. There were performance versions like the "Eliminator" that fed the era's appetite for muscle cars and sequential tail lights borrowed from the Thunderbird gave Cougar personality.
Between 1971 and 1973 the Cougar was restyled. As the muscle car era ended, the Cougar emphasized mid size luxury. Between 1974 and 1976 the car grew into the personal luxury car segment leaving its pony-car roots behind. The car was now a sister of the Ford Torino, and was marketed as "junior Thunderbird".
In 1980 Cougars were downsized and offered in a smaller more fuel efficient package, but the cars were still packed with luxury options. In this era the Cougar shared parts and styling with a range of Ford and Mercury vehicles including the Zephyr, Fairmont, Thunderbird and even the Mercury Capri. The vehicles were distinct though and offered digital instrumentation and trip computers.
Between 1983 and 1988 the Cougar retained its sisterhood with the Ford Thunderbird. The rear window treatment on the Cougar was different and while not as sleek as the Thunderbird, some thought it gave the Cougar a classier look.
In 1989 Cougar was completely redone from the ground up. The styling was similar to the previous version but all the components were changed. Engine options included the popular 3.8 litre V6, and iconic 5.0 litre V8. The 5.0 litre was replaced by the more advanced 4.6 litre modular V8 in 1994. Sales began to slow though and in 1997 production was discontinued.
In 1999 the name was reintroduced and Cougar was reborn on the Ford Contour world car platform. It was smaller and for the first time ever, it was front wheel drive. These cars did not sell well, and the last Cougar rolled off the assembly line August 9, 2002.
Today the Mercury division is history, which means Cougars are technically "orphan cars". Throughout 2017 Cougars will be celebrated at automotive events, most notably at Steve Plunkett's "Fleetwood Country Cruize In" in London Ontario where Cougars are one of the event's featured cars.