Here is a car I chanced upon one day; I only pulled over for a couple of quick photos and while I can tell it is a Fomoco product, beyond that I’m not exactly sure what it is! A Thunderbird perhaps? Can anyone ID this car?
LTD II from ’77, ’78 or ’79.
Front looks like a Cougar, rear like an LTD
This is the non-XR7 Mercury Cougar from 1977 – ’79. The bisected taillight pods are the clue. Incredible find – there couldn’t have been that many of these made in the first place.
I’m pretty sure Joseph is right. This is the Mercury equivalent to a Ford LTD II coupe. It looks similar to the Thunderbird-based Cougar XR7 up front, but is easier to tell apart from the back.
I actually saw one of these on the road here in Massachusetts last summer, in similar condition. It was stopped at a red light, traveling in the opposite direction from me. I was able to ID it as a non-XR7 by getting a look at the back end in my rear view mirror. Can’t remember the last time I’d seen one before that, but I can’t say I’ve been looking for them.
Production numbers for non-XR7 coupes, from the Encyclopedia of American Cars: 1977 – 24,302; 1978 – 21,398; 1979 – 2,831. According to the same source, production of the XR7 coupe those three years was 124K, 166K, 163K.
I also spot the Cougar’s round hood ornament. LTD II’s hood ornament had a pointy top.
Yes, Joseph is correct.
From what I can see, it looks like a late 70’s Ltd 2 that got wrecked and got the nose for a Cougar as a replacement. There was sometimes a financial savings to doing this as there was more demand for Ford body parts than for Mercury’s.
That’s what I was about to call it – a frankencar made from an LTD II coupe and a Cougar front clip. Little did I know the factory actually made them this way!
Lots of interchangeable sheet metal between the LTD II/Cougar/Thunderbird/Ranchero though. This is one I’ve seen several times around Richmond:
Agree with Joseph — the taillights are correct for a non-XR7 Cougar of that vintage. Can’t tell, but this car should have the “Cougar” badge in script on the pass. side of the trunk lid.
That is a ’77 -’79 Cougar, non XR-7, possibly a Brougham. VERY rare when new. To see one today is incredible. Most of the Cougars from the late 70’s were XR-7 models. That car was offered to customers that didn’t want the XR-7 package but still wanted to say they had a Cougar. It is basically an LTD II with a Cougar front end and slightly different taillights. Ford was famous for trying to utilize the “Let’s offer a million different variations of the same car among the brands so we can capture the customer somehow.” They really didn’t need to do this, as Cougar XR-7’s were wildly popular anyway; then again it cost them next to nothing to interchange grilles and slightly alter tailllights so why not do it, right?
FoMoCo’s use of the Cougar name during the “Sign of the Cat” era approaches GM’s promiscuous use of the Cutlass name.
Think of all the platforms and body styles that got the Cougar name slapped on them at one point or another. Drawing up an inventory might be fun.
I think Ford’s rationale for offering this was simply that, in general, there ought to be a Mercury version of every car that Ford sold:
Ford has the Pinto, Mercury has the Bobcat
Ford has the Maverick, Mercury has the Comet
Ford has the Granada, Mercury has the Monarch
Ford has the LTD, Mercury has the Marquis
Ford has the Thunderbird, Mercury has the Cougar XR7
Ford has the LTD II sedan, Mercury has the non-XR7 Cougar sedan
Ford has the LTD II coupe, Mercury has the non-XR7 Cougar coupe
Ford has the Ranchero — OK, Mercury doesn’t get a version of that, because it’s not really a car, it’s a pickup, and Mercury doesn’t sell pickups.
What makes things confusing is that Mercury gave its LTD II-based cars the same model name and front-end styling as its Thunderbird-based car (making the purpose of the LTD II-based cars less obvious than their Ford counterparts), and that some of the Mercury models were low-volume and therefore rarely seen and unfamiliar today. If Mercury had called its LTD II equivalents the Marquis II and had given them a facelifted LTD II front clip, it wouldn’t seems as odd that there was both a Cougar XR7 coupe and a Marquis II coupe.
You forgot one more:
Ford had the Mustang II, and Mercury had the German Capri/Capri II. 😉
Even, though they didn’t share anything in common, unlike the next gen Fox platform. Each was a counter offering for Ford/Mercury.
According to J “Kelly” Flory Jr’s book, American Cars 1973 to 1980, production for these non-XR-7 Cougar coupes was as follows:
Base 2-door Hardtop: 15,910
Brougham 2-dorr Hardtop: 8,392
2-door Hardtop: 21,398
The Brougham was relegated to a trim option package that year and therefore rolled up into the total number of 2-doors with no further breakout.
2-door Hardtop: 2,831
Less that 50,000 units over three model years is pretty weak for a model from a volume manufacturer. I can’t imagine many of these were coddled and saved, so this would be a very rare car, especially in what looks to be good condition.
I wonder, what’s the figures for the sedans and wagons in the lineup?
Also what were the sales compared to the Montego in the preceding years?
The coupes seem to be as elusive as the Villager from my observations, I’ve only ever seen XR-7s in person, I only know this is a Cougar because I’ve seen the pictures from publicity stills. And since these non-XR7 Cougars effectively replaced the Montego I’m curious whether the name change actually resulted in a sales bump?
Here ya go (from the same source book):
4-door Brougham: 16,946
Base Wagon: 4,951
Villager Wagon: 8,569
1978 (Wagons dropped, Brougham becomes trim package)
Interesting question versus the Montego. So I looked back to 1972 when the previous body style was introduced. Started out strong, but the Oil Embargo was unkind to the Montego line. I’m sure FoMoCo was hoping some Cougar XR-7 magic would rub off on the regular Montegos with the name change for 1977, but that was ultimately not the case.
Montego 2-door hardtop: 9,963
Montego MX 2-door hardtop: 25,802
Montego MX Brougham 2-door hardtop: 28,417
Montego GT 2-door fastback: 5,820
Montego 4-door sedan: 8,658
Montego MX 4-door sedan: 23,387
Montego MX Brougham 4-door sedan: 17,540
Montego MX Wagon: 6,268
Montego MX Villager Wagon: 9,237
Montego 2-door hardtop: 7,082
Montego MX 2-door hardtop: 27,812
Montego MX Brougham 2-door hardtop: 40,951
Montego GT 2-door fastback: 4,464
Montego 4-door sedan: 7,459
Montego MX 4-door sedan: 25,300
Montego MX Brougham 4-door sedan: 24,329
Montego MX Wagon: 7,012
Montego MX Villager Wagon: 12,396
1974 (down ~38%)
Montego 2-door hardtop: 7,645
Montego MX 2-door hardtop: 20,957
Montego MX Brougham 2-door hardtop: 20,511
Montego 4-door sedan: 5,674
Montego MX 4-door sedan: 19,446
Montego MX Brougham 4-door sedan: 13,467
Montego MX Wagon: 4,085
Montego MX Villager Wagon: 6,234
1975 (down ~34%)
Montego 2-door hardtop: 4,051
Montego MX 2-door hardtop: 13,666
Montego MX Brougham 2-door hardtop: 8,791
Montego 4-door sedan: 4,142
Montego MX 4-door sedan: 16,033
Montego MX Brougham 4-door sedan: 8,235
Montego MX Wagon: 4,508
Montego MX Villager Wagon: 5,754
1976 (down ~22%)
Montego 2-door hardtop: 2,287
Montego MX 2-door hardtop: 12,367
Montego MX Brougham 2-door hardtop: 3,905
Montego 4-door sedan: 3,403
Montego MX 4-door sedan: 12,666
Montego MX Brougham 4-door sedan: 5,043
Montego MX Wagon: 5,012
Montego MX Villager Wagon: 6,412
An additional problem for the Torino/Montego in 1975-76 was that the Granada/Monarch were being marketed to attract traditional midsize buyers who wanted the features they were used to in that class in a smaller, more fuel-efficient package.
The ’77 LTD II repackaging reflected the fact that the midsize market was gravitating towards cars with exterior dimensions the size of the Granada, while the fullsize market was moving towards cars with exterior dimensions the size of the Torino; Ford has to have had the downsized ’77 GM B-bodies in mind. What the Mercury equivalents to the LTD II were supposed to be was a bit more ambiguous, with their Cougar badging and front-end styling.
All things considered, the ’77 LTD II didn’t sell too badly (it did better than the ’76 Torino had), but it dropped off in ’78, and I’m not sure why FoMoCo even bothered offering the LTD II and non-XR7 Cougars for 1979. By then the downsized Panthers were in place for the fullsize market, and the mainstream midsize market had moved entirely to cars with the exterior dimensions of the Granada and Monarch (GM A/G-bodies, Chrysler M-bodies). Fleet sales? As long as they were building the similar and strong-selling Thunderbird/Cougar XR7 (and the nichey but steady-selling Ranchero), they might as well keep building the LTD II/non-XR7 Cougars too?
But just how many parts did it have that weren’t shared with either the XR-7, the LTD II two-door, or the Cougar four-door sedan? Not many would be my guess.
After looking at those 1960s Fords that just brim with good looks and personality, this car reminds us why I have owned but a single car built between 1972-1983. As long as there was a decent selection of nice, clean 60s iron, that’s what I drove. When those got scarce, I went straight to the 80s. The lone exception, the 77 New Yorker, was not an altogether happy experience.
As for these late 70s FoMoCo cars specifically, anything short of a Lincoln from that period does little to nothing for me. Nice condition, though.
I remember back in the late 70’s if I saw one of these I always thought it was an LTD II and that it was so unusual being a Cougar, considering the XR-7 was so popular.
Even if Ford/Mercury only sold a few of these it was sales taken away from another brand, mainly GM, and it was very easy to put the header/grille and taillights on them because everything else was already there. The dash, seats etc. were all shared among the other sister cars (LTD II and T-Bird). They even put the Cougar grille on the wagon in 1977 and called it Cougar Villager!!!
A high school friend had the Villager in the same Emerald Green as the subject. Unicorns do exist.
My first impression was a Lincoln Continental, but a defer to the scholars who have already commented.
However, we need to start a campaign to “Release the Cougar/RXR7/LTD One”, not least so that I can sign my name on the title documents.
A someone who grew up watching Frank Cannon on Saturday night, when Starsky and Hutch were off-screen, I want this car!
CC effect is in full swing. Saw this and went to show a house and upon leaving that neighborhood when I get to a T in the road what do I see in the driveway straight across but a LTD II. Yes it is not exactly the same as a Cougar but close enough.
Definitely a Mercury Cougar. My first car was a ’78 4-door version and it had the same rear end.
It’s a 1977-79 Ford LTD II coupe… Although,it looks obscured, the frontal nose looks like a Mercury Cougar. Weird.
** Fellas, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t only the 4 door 77-79 Cougars get the LTD II rear end, trunk and lights?
Because NO 4 door sedans had the rear Continental-like deck lid.
That is NOT a Cougar… The Cougar coupes(XR7 or not) had side opera window louvers, the LTD II did not.
The side corner lamps, looked like a Cougar to me, too… But if you Google a side view of an LTD II, you have your car.
FWIW, if the guys above say it’s a certain car, it is. They know their shit.
Artie Johnson: Vvvvvvvvveeeerrry interesting.
Now, did some regions of the US, get that model and others didn’t? Because living in New England, I’ve only seen the LTD II rear on the Cougar 4 door sedans. Really.
Oh right; that was the year Mercury offered different rear ends for different parts of the country, a radical new marketing concept. The West Coast got a rear end that looked like a Mercedes rear end. Conservative new England got the squared-off tire hump. Texas got a genuine free-standing continental spare tire held on with genuine saddle-leather straps. Florida got an open rear end that looked like the end of a boat. And the Mid West got this pathetic LTD II rear end. I never did figure out why Mercury didn’t continue the experiment; maybe it didn’t pan out? 🙂
Hi Sarcasmo, it truly is a Cougar! And guess what – you could even order a Brougham option!!!
Thanks, Tom. You, Joseph, and Paul convinced me… Just never really paid attention in the later 70’s- 80’s to notice the cheaper Cougar coupes.
Probably, seeing them drive by as a kid, and just seeing the rear and dismissing them as just a plain ole LTD II.
Tom, I kinda figured the 4dr would be optioned out as a Brougham, but I can’t picture ya in this base Cougar… Your more an XR7 type, more fitting of the Brougham moniker. Lol
The main thing to remember with the Non XR7 Cougars that makes it all make more sense is that they were the replacements for the Mercury Montego, whose name was dropped after 1976. “Base” Cougars then filled the void left which included the sedans, regular coupes and even the wagon briefly. Montegos weren’t well differentiated from the Torino either so sharing bodies with the LTD II isn’t out of the ordinary for Ford in the 70s.
Thanks for the info guys, I don’t think I would have worked out a non-XR7 Cougar!
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
About Arras WordPress Theme
Copyright 2011 - 2020 Curbside Classics. All Rights Reserved.