CC Capsule: ’77-’79 Mercury Cougar Brougham. What’s 2nd Prize, Two Of Them?

Here’s a mostly well-preserved example of the offensively ugly American Ford products of the 1970s. This is a ’77, ’78, or ’79 Mercury Cougar Brougham sedan—perhaps someone out there in televisionland can pick the year. Paul’s post the other day of a same-colour Ford-branded one made me remember snapping these pics just off Vancouver’s Commercial Drive five years ago.

Despite its Super Big Gulp proportions, this car was considered an “intermediate” sized car—LOLROFL; perhaps that was a side effect of the bad drugs evidently flushing round Ford at the time. Like the ’71-’76 GM B-bodies, this car looks grotesquely bloated and haphazard and disjoint from every angle, as though the “design” (must we?) team went beyond not talking by deliberately telling one another lies alternative facts as to what each was doing on his own part of the work. The brown (ack) padded (cack) vinyl (barf) roof surely doesn’t help. Neither do the “Brougham” callouts helpfully emplaced in case you couldn’t tell, nor the exterior doorhandles that look like an afterthought hastily stuck on with chewing gum, nor the fecal-brown interior. Then there’s the rear styling that looks like a cheap imitation of the ’75 Cutlass, the rear bumper that looks like either it got hit or it was thrown on that way at the factory, the cartoonish front and rear overhang (“Look, watch me understeer!” even when it’s supposedly parked). And that’s not to mention that I saw one of these, in this same colour, hit and kill a Golden Retriever on a Colorado freeway when I was about 8 years old.

This what’s pictured originally cost the equivalent of about $22K in 2018 US Dollars. Over half a million North Americans bought and drove these misshapen, ill-handling, barely-stoppable stupidmobiles with grossly inefficient engines huffing and puffing out about four tenths of a horse per cubic inch, assuming they started and ran and drove on any particular try—134 horsepower from 302 cubic inches/4.9 litres, 149 hp from 351 cubes/5.8 litres, or the pièce de merde résistance: 173 whole, entire horsepowers from 400 cubic inches/6.6 litres—to do their grocery shopping and take the kids to karate (we don’t do that any more; now we have SUVs). Fuel economy consumption of the ’78 49-state models was claimed—ha ha, verrrry funny; ho ho, it is to laugh—as 13/19 miles per US gallon with the 400, 14/20 with the 351, 15/22 with the 302. Real-world figures would’ve been quite a bit lower in the 49 states, and markedly lower still in California. Speaking of Super Big Gulps.

The Cougar started life in 1967 as a sporty hardtop coupé meant to sit somewhere between the Mustang and the T-bird. A decade on, Ford had a grand-mal one of their Better Idea™ attacks: they discarded the Montego name previously applied to midsized Mercury models, and instead badged them all as Cougars—which polluted, diluted, and pissed away about the same large amount of brand equity as was done by renaming the Torino the “LTD II”. Pony car, schmony car; now there were Cougar sedans, a stripper base-model Cougar coupé, and Cougar station wagons known as “Cougar Villager” if you bought the one with phony wood appliqué down the sides. All of them are on the list of cars I’m very pleased we mostly don’t see any more.

I mean, I get that cars like this were what was on offer at the height depth of the brougham era, but ow, my freakin’ eyes and oooog, my stomach. Were cars like this a symptom of the malaise era, or a cause? Both, I guess. Whatever which way, I surely hope these excrescences will weigh against Lee Iaccoca when he’s called to account for his sins.

Nevertheless, I was taught to say something nice, so, um…


…just a minute, now, don’t press me; if you nag at me, I’ll never come up with something…

Ah! The, uh, the opera windows probably make rear-flank visibility slightly less completely impossible, and at least this one isn’t “Dove Gray” (i.e., industrial floor epoxy grey). There.

I wasn’t able to get a front view. It wouldn’t have helped.