1971 Mercury Cougar
2dr Hardtop Coupe
8-cyl. 351cid/240hp 2bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
The redesigned 1971 Mercury Cougar was received much like the 1958 Ford Thunderbird. It was big, boxy and plush, and nobody thought of it as a sports car. The Eliminator was gone and the Muscle Car era was nearly over, but at least the 1970 powertrains continued for a while.
Sales dropped from 72,363 to 62,864, with 34,008 Cougar Hardtops and 25,416 XR-7 Hardtops. Convertibles remained correspondingly rare, with 1,723 base cars and 1,717 XR-7s. Cougar Hardtops started at $3,289, with the XR-7 at $3,629; the Convertible at $3,681 and XR-7 Convertible at $3,877.
The new Cougar would be part of the malaise decade and bore little resemblance to its past. Wheelbase grew to 112.5 inches, while headlights were no longer concealed and floated in side grills. The dominant feature was a 12-by-12 inch center grille, extended down into the bumper with a dropped center. Big taillights were recessed into a hefty full-width bumper, beneath a large boxy trunk. A tunneled rear window was flanked by flying buttresses, making the car seem even taller, like the companion Mustang coupe. At least the Buick side spear was gone, though half vinyl roofs were offered.
Both cynical observers (and Mercury marketers) might have noted that the Boomers were growing up, they wanted a bigger back seat, and more luxury. They got full instruments in the XR-7, and all models enjoyed flow-through ventilation, better air conditioning, safety door beams, recessed door handles, a leather interior and a new solid state AM/FM stereo.
The base transmission was still a 3-speed manual, with a 4-speed stick or 3-speed auto available. Base engine was the 240 bhp 351 cid V8 with a two-barrel carburetor, but a four-barrel bumped it to 280 bhp and included a high-lift cam and 4-bolt mains. At least a 370 bhp 429 big block V-8 was still optional, with or without Ram Air. The GT package included heavy duty suspension, racing mirrors, high axle ratio and a functional air scoop with the 429 V-8, but only 723 GT coupes were sold.
Mercury calculated the most popular options: 96.1%, had automatic transmissions, 98.5% power steering, 79.7% power disc brakes, 77.9% tinted glass and 75% air conditioning. At the other end of the scale, 1% had the 3-speed manual and 2.1% had A 4-speed.
Mercury offered 30 paint colors this year: Competition Orange (1), Bright Yellow (2), Bright Red (3), Ivy Bronze (49), Medium Brown (5), Bright Blue (6), Maroon (7), Ginger Brown (79), Light Gold (8), Pastel Gold (9), Onyx Black (A), Maroon Metallic (B), Dark Green (C), Competition Yellow (D), Medium Yellow Gold (E), Medium Blue (F), Light Green (H), Bright Lime Green (I), Competition Blue (J), Knight White (M), Pastel Blue (N), Medium Green (P), Medium Gold (Q), Gray Gold (S), Red (T), Competition Gold (U), Light Pewter (V), Yellow (W), Two Dark Blues (X and Y) and Competition Green (Z).
A total of 12 interior colors were offered: Black, White, Medium Blue, Medium Green, Medium Ginger, Dark Ginger, Dark Red, Dark Tobacco, Light Gray, Medium Gray, Charcoal Black and Medium Vermillion. Vinyl tops were available in Black, White, Sandalwood, Buckskin, Dark Blue or Dark Green. Convertible tops were Black, White or Ford Blue.