Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3
Ford's Mercury division badly needed an exciting new car to counter others being released by Pontiac and Buick. In reality, the Cougar was simply a stretched Ford Mustang with permanent hardtop and a few luxury touches. But this did not seem to deter buyers, with over 150,000 being sold in the first year of release.
One of the features setting it apart from the run-of-the-mill vehicles being produced at the time were the hide-away headlights and sequential tail lights - design features that gave the car an air of quality and strength. Engine sizes ranged from 3.3 to 7 litre, the GT-E developing a huge 335 bhp. The XR-7 was the top of range model and sported better wheel trim and an upgraded interior.
7 Litre Cobra Jet
motoring journalist Roger Huntington had the opportunity to drive a Mercury Cougar fitted with Ford's new 7 Litre Cobra Jet engine. The following is an excerpt following his encounter with the beast...
"I HAD a chance to sample the performance of Ford's new 7-litre "Cobra Jet" high performance engine option the other day, installed in a Mercury Cougar' sports coupe. I think they may have a winner here (that is, a winner in the popular "Traffic Light Grand Prix" that is tentatively scheduled day and night on every wide boulevard in America!).
We timed standing quarter-miles in the mid 14 second bracket, at 100-103 mph terminal speed, and in full road trim. This is right up with the best of the "supercars" with full -passenger-size bodies. About the only thing quicker would be the 7-litre Corvette, and possibly a Dodge or Plymouth with the 7-litre "road version of the "Hemi" racing engine - which is good for over 400 bhp in road trim with closed exhaust
But this new Ford Cobra Jet should be able to handle the Pontiac GTOs and the Olds 4·4-2s and Dodge-Plymouth 7.2-litre 'wedge" powered cars. These are good for high-14 sec times at 95-98 mph terminal speed.
And it's about time Ford got back in this picture. For all the millions they've been spending on world-wide racing, their image for road performance is not very strong among the young buyers. Their 6·4-litre high-performance GT engine option hasn't been getting the job done in Mustangs and Fairlanes and such. And yet this new 7-litre job is not a complex, finnicky engine at all and it's warranted for five years or 50,000 miles.
Ford use hydraulic valve lifters to limit rpm to 5,500 and eliminate valve adjustment; there's only a single four-barrel carburettor, 10.7-to-1 compression ratio, and you can only get the engine with a torque converter transmission
in the heavier models. This cushions the drive line and saves warranty expense on U-joints, axle gears, shafts and transmission
gears with enthusiastic young drivers! The hydraulic lifters and automatic transmission
are built-in warranty insurance. And yet you get practically racing car performance when you punch the loud pedal. Detroit deserves a lot of credit for this progress.