Cougar Day would be incomplete without a convertible. Did you remember the third generation, like this one, also had a convertible?
The third generation Cougar shared the platform used by the Mustang. This is somewhat ironic as this would be the biggest Mustang for quite some, garnering various unflattering comparisons such as being the Clydesdale of Mustangs. In true 1970s fashion, the Cougar would continue to grow with every subsequent generation throughout the decade. Might this example be the bobcat of Cougars?
Oh wait; that name would soon be taken by another Mercury.
This was the climactic era of Mercury presenting itself as having a smidgeon more cachet than a Ford. Mercury, in an effort to prove this concept of extra brewed-in tangibility wasn’t a complete marketing ploy, made the 351 (5.8 liter) V8 standard on all Cougar models. Isn’t having a 351 under the hood a bit more awe-inspiring than a pedestrian straight-six as found in a contemporary Mustang?
In yet another ironic twist, the second generation of Cougar XR-7 convertible was a mere twenty-one pounds (9.5 kilograms) heavier than the 1970 XR-7 convertible, had a one inch longer wheelbase, and was the same overall length. The Mustang convertible gained 112 pounds (50.8 kg) from 1970 to 1972, which reflects the first generation Cougar being a might bigger than its sister – or maybe the Mustang simply hit puberty earlier than the Cougar.
This particular Cougar was found over a year ago at a classic car dealer just east of Corinth, Mississippi. Upon exhuming these pictures, I discovered this car has been divorced from all the various name badges that had at one time been upon the header panel, fenders, and trunk lid. The emblem in the center of the grille is the only identifier of this being an XR-7. The 1972 model year is when the tide turned for the Cougar as the majority were built as XR-7 models.
Upon the introduction of the Torino based Cougar in 1974, there was no base model Cougar – they were all given the XR-7 designation.
Mercury built only 1,929 XR-7 convertibles for 1972 with another 1,240 base Cougar drop-tops. Reflecting how market tastes were changing, 98.5% of Cougar’s had an automatic transmission with over three-quarters of the hardtops being adorned with a vinyl roof.
Production of Cougar convertibles would rise for 1973 as those would be the last drop-top Mercury for a very long time. With any luck, this particular Cougar has found a happy new home and is providing some fortunate person the hair-whipping excitement found only in a convertible.