1967 Mercury Cougar: The pony car goes Brougham
What is Brougham? Simply put, it’s a state of mind. A state of mind where you value elegance and luxury and fine appointments and quality fabrics over stomping, hot-rod speed and burning tires and high insurance premiums. Something with a touch of class.
And so it was that Lincoln-Mercury division took a Mustang, made it elegant, and turned it into a beautiful pony car: the original Mercury Cougar.
OK, calling it a Brougham is a stretch. But I’m known as the Brougham Guy around here, so sometimes I get carried away. Velour and opera lamps are in my blood. But there’s no denying the Cougar was meant as an upscale sibling to the popular Mustang. I’ve always loved the electric-shaver grille with hidden headlights and matching taillights. And it was a success: 123,672 were built in the car’s inaugural year.
Sure, that was nothing compared to the 356,271 Mustang hardtops, 71,042 Mustang fastbacks, and 44,808 Mustang convertibles sold that same year. But it was very respectable for sedate Lincoln-Mercury Division, which naturally had an older, less-excitable clientele.
The Cougar added a bit of much-needed spice to the Montclairs and Colony Parks in the showroom. As the 1967 brochure confided, “Untamed elegance … that’s Mercury Cougar. America’s first luxury sports car at a popular price. With a European flair and thrust to its styling.”
“Mercury Cougar is a car of today—a contemporary machine for exciting people. And the best luxury sports car you can buy for the money.”
I say Brougham, but the Cougar really gave a Jaguar-like vibe—if not in overall shape, then in its restrained but elegant looks, inside and out. The upmarket XR-7 was even more so.
The Cougar XR-7 had a factory price of $3081 (about $27K today), which was $230 ($2K) more than the base Cougar. A total of 27,221 were built on top of the 123,000-odd base Cougars made for 1967. The primary difference was inside, with a more ornate leather interior and woodgrain dashboard—again very much aping contemporary Jaguars, right down to the toggle switches in the center of the instrument panel.
A two-barrel 289-cubic-inch V-8 with 200 horsepower was standard on Cougar, with a 225-hp, four-barrel 289 and 320-hp, four-barrel 390 optional. All but the base engine required premium gasoline; the 390 was only available with the Cougar GT package.
This fine example was discovered by fellow classic car spotter and pal Jayson Coombes. It was at a show held in late August 2022 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. As Jayson related, “I tried to get enough good photos for potential articles for you, should the mood strike you. LOL! I thought you’d like the Cougar. I loved how unmolested it was, even down to actual wheel covers.” It appears to be Fawn, an original 1967 color.
Although this wasn’t a huge car show, the vehicles on display were of extreme interest to guys like Jayson and me. No usual late-model Chargers, or 1980s Corvettes, or resto-mod 1967–69 Camaros. Nope! Instead there were classy pony cars like our featured vehicle, a tan and brown 1984 Coupe de Ville, 1970 Riviera, 1979 Continental Mark V Cartier (which can be seen in the background of some of these photos) and even a late-1970s/early-’80s Dodge Challenger.
You know, the one based on the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda? And its corporate sibling the Plymouth Sapporo? I’m including one photo of it because they are almost extinct. And to drive the muscle car Challenger people crazy. Yes, they did exist.
And as for the Cougar, I always loved them. Even today I’d love to see a more elegant, notchback Cougar version of the current Mustang. If wishes were horses … But we can all still enjoy surviving examples. Like this one.