Straight cat

1969 Mer­cury Cougar con­vert­ible one of less than 10,000 pro­duced

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - CLASSIC CRUISING -

SINCE 1964 Ford had the com­pact Fal­con, sporty Mus­tang and lux­u­ri­ous Thun­der­bird in its sta­ble, while the Mer­cury line con­sisted only of the Comet and its full-size line. To bridge that sales gap, Mer­cury launched the Cougar for 1967 — this sporty of­fer­ing was aimed at folks who wanted a slightly up­scale ride, but weren’t quite ready to shell out the big bucks for a Thun­der­bird.

With hide-a-way head­lamps, se­quen­tial turn sig­nals and up­scale styling, the Cougar gave an al­most Euro­pean aura to an oth­er­wise Fal­con/Mus­tang based Amer­i­can orig­i­nal. Shar­ing the same ba­sic uni-body chas­sis, the Cougar fea­tured a three-inch longer wheel­base, dif­fer­ent spring rates for a smoother ride and in­creased leg and trunk room over the Mus­tang. With an over­all length of 190-inches it was more than six inches longer than the Mus­tang. Un­less the two were sideby-side it was hard to tell the Cougar was a larger car. It was the Cougar’s styling, how­ever, that re­ally brought the pack­age to­gether. The Cougar cer­tainly didn’t go un­no­ticed — it re­ceived Mo­tor Trend mag­a­zine’s car of the year award for 1967 and ac­counted for al­most half of Mer­cury sales for 1967.

With the 1967 model mak­ing such a great en­try, Mer­cury didn’t mess with suc­cess and only of­fered mild styling changes for 1968 with the in­clu­sion of side marker lamps, dual hy­draulic brak­ing sys­tem with warn­ing light, four-way emer­gency flash­ers, padded dash and sun vi­sors, along with twospeed wind­shield wipers and wash­ers as stan­dard equip­ment.

In 1969, the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Cougar emerged. New sheet metal and styling ap­peared along with an even longer list of im­pres­sive stan­dard fea­tures, in­clud­ing bright rocker panel and wheel open­ing mould­ings, as well as stan­dard bucket seats.

While you would be hard pressed to find any Cougar with a bench seat to­day, there were 1,615 or­dered that way in 1969. It was also the first year the long awaited con­vert­ible model was of­fered.

For Mark and Deb­bie Jones of Win­nipeg, their 1969 Cougar con­vert­ible has proven to be ev­ery­thing they ex­pected in a clas­sic car. “I owned a late ’70s Mus­tang and an ’80 Cougar,” said Mark, “but for a clas­sic, I didn’t want a com­mon car.” Ini­tially he be­gan look­ing for a 1967 Cougar, be­cause of it’s dis­tinc­tive hide-a-way head­lamps and se­quen­tial turn sig­nals, but found a 1969 con­vert­ible of­fered for sale in Saska­toon in 2013.

An orig­i­nal Medium Green Metal­lic car, it had been re­painted Turquoise Blue Metal­lic, but still car­ried the orig­i­nal white vinyl in­te­rior and a white con­vert­ible top. At one time the dash pad and in­serts had been re­placed with the dash from an XR-7 model, so it car­ries the Burl­wood ap­pliques not found in the base-model Cougar.

Un­der the hood the car has the orig­i­nal 351 cu­bic-inch Wind­sor V-8 en­gine. Equipped with a four-bar­rel car­bu­re­tor and dual ex­haust sys­tem it car­ried a fac­tory rat­ing of 290 horse­power. Backed by an FMX three-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and nine-inch rear axle with 3.00:1 rear gear ra­tio, it was a great cruis­ing com­bi­na­tion.

Af­ter look­ing the car over, Jones struck a deal and drove the car back to Win­nipeg. “The trip was smooth with no prob­lems, which isn’t bad for a 44-year old car,” said Jones.

Op­tional equip­ment in­cludes power steer­ing, power front disc brakes, cen­tre con­sole, AM ra­dio, driver’s side-view mir­ror, power top, rim blow steer­ing wheel, cour­tesy light group and elec­tric clock. The Cougar rolls on a set of alu­minium slot­ted mag wheels with 14-inch

LARRY D’ARGIS

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