1968 Cougar GT-E
Finding a 1968 Cougar GT-E with its original 427 is “almost unheard of,” Royce Peterson said. The GT-E production run, which began midway through the 1968 model year, was a mere 393, of which 356 were 427s and the remaining 37 were 428 Cobra Jets. Apparently, Cougar muscle cars were popular targets for engine harvesting, with 427s going into kit car Cobras back in the 1970s and 1980s.
That’s why we were so excited to go along on this expedition to the home of the original owners, Turner and Burnice Robie of Ardmore, Oklahoma. Their 1968 GT-E was complete, down to the numbers-matching big-block.
“Somehow there’s a part of that car that’s human,” Burnice said as she stood with Turner and his nephew, Phillip Sones, in the driveway of their home.
Peterson had pulled his enclosed trailer 110 miles north from Dallas to pick up what he believes is the “best unrestored GT-E that anybody has ever seen” for his friend Jim Pinkerton, who lives in Seattle and runs the online Cougar GT-E Registry (gte.mercurycougarregistry.com). Pinkerton had known about this muscle Mercury since 2005, when he first corresponded in a Cougar forum with Sones. At that time, the Merc was not for sale. Pinkerton kept the car’s location secret, per Sones’ wishes.
Then, in late 2017, Sones called Pinkerton with the news that his aunt and uncle were ready to sell their GT-E.
Pinkerton and Peterson are close friends. Peterson runs the Cougar XR7-G Registry (xr7g.mercurycougarregistry.com) and documented the GT-E for his friend so he could make a deal over the phone with the Robies.
Burnice said, “It’s going to bother me when I get up tomorrow morning and it’s not there.” But she admitted it was “time to sell. . . because it’s sitting there rotting. I’m 80 and he’s 85. What are we gonna do with it?”
The inspection sticker on the windshield revealed 1975 as the last time the Cougar had been registered. The family had so many memories and so much love for this car!
Sones said, “I can remember going to the grocery store and some guy pulling up beside us—this was in Mountain View [California]—and revving his engine, and my aunt telling us to put our seatbelts on. She just smoked him, left him sitting at the light. When we got up to the next light, he said, ‘Geez, lady, what have you got in that thing?’ And she smoked him again, left him sitting there again. He was all kinds of upset.”
Burnice said, “It’s too bad Michelle couldn’t be here. Our oldest daughter raced everybody.” An Ardmore High School student automobile registration windshield sticker dated 1973-74 confirmed Michelle’s connection to the 427-powered Mercury.
“Yeah, they built a Highway Patrol office right there on the road, so they’d stop racing it,” said Turner. He and his wife exchanged fond memories and chuckled.
“We left California in 1972. I drove the Cougar with the two dogs and the two girls.
“She just smoked him, left him sitting at the light”
n The 1968 Cougar GT-E, red on red, had been pulled from the garage and parked in the driveway when we arrived. Jim Pinkerton has entered 288 GT-E Cougars in his Registry, and about a half-dozen have had their original drivetrains.