1969 Mercury Cougar XR-7
8-cyl. 351cid/250hp 2bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
The years 1969 and 1970 were the pinnacle for Detroit’s muscle cars with highest horsepower and most options, and Mercury’s Cougar answered the call. The slow-selling and expensive GT-E was discontinued at the end of 1968, but March 1969 saw the birth of the Cougar Eliminator, a car in the same vein as the Boss Mustang, although “Eliminator” seemed an odd name for a car that was never really focused on the drag strip.
The main news otherwise was the Cougar’s overall redesign. Gone was the “electric razor” grille, replaced by horizontal ribs without a center divider, but still with hidden headlights. The new car was 3.5 inches longer and 2.9 inches wider, without vent windows and with a Buick-like downward spear along the side. A convertible finally became available as well, two years late. It featured a hinged-glass rear window, and a top mechanism that folded below the coke bottle rear fender line.
Sales dropped slightly to 100,069.The cars gained 128 lbs weight and fuel tank capacity picked up three gallons. Base price was now $2,999 for the Hardtop, $3,298 for the ZR-7 Hardtop, $3,365 for the Convertible and $3,578 for the XR-7 Convertible.
Base engine for the Cougar was the 250 bhp, 351 cid V-8, with an optional four-barrel carburetor, high compression and dual exhausts providing 40 bhp more. The twi-barrel 390 V-8 was gone but the 320 bhp, four-barrel 390 remained.
The new Eliminator was a combination of two option packages (décor and handling, for $199.50) and could also be ordered with the 335 bhp, 428 CJ V8, with an optional Super Cobra Jet ram-air intake good for about 400 bhp. The SCJ also had forged connecting rods from the GT40 and an oil cooler. Ford’s high-revving Boss 302 cid V-8 was also offered with a rated 290 bhp, but in reality made quite a bit more, just like the Mustang. A 360 bhp, 429 cid V-8 was promised, but only one or two were built for drag racing.
A 3-speed manual gearbox was the base offering, but attracted only 7.5% of buyers. Even fewer (3.1%) bought a Hurst shifter 4-speed, with either wide- or close-ratios, while 89.4% opted for the Merc-O-Matic 3-speed auto. Emphasizing the upmarket nature of the model, 92.4% of buyers ordered power steering, 58.9% bought power brakes, 57% got tinted glass and 53.2% got air conditioning.
A total of 18 paint colors were available, with four specifically for the Eliminator, which was not available as a convertible. Eliminator colors were Competition Orange, Bright Blue Metallic, Bright Yellow and White. Other Cougar colors were Black, Dark Aqua Metallic, Medium Blue Metallic, Dark Ivy Green Metallic, Medium Gold Metallic, Red, Light Aqua Metallic, Burnt Orange Metallic, Medium Lime Metallic, Yellow, Pastel Gray, Medium Green Metallic, Light Ivy Yellow or Maroon. Cougar vinyl bucket seats were Black, Light Blue, Dark Red, Light Ivy, Gold, and White. Bench seats could be Black, light Blue Dark Red or White.
XR-7 bucket seat only colors were Black, Dark Blue, Dark Red, Saddle, Dark Ivy Gold, Aqua, Nugget Gold, and white in leather and vinyl. Available in comfort-weave vinyl were Black, Dark Blue, Dark Red and Saddle. Vinyl tops were available in Black, White, Sandalwood, Buckskin, Dark Blue or Dark Green.