Jim Smart
April 1, 2000
Photos By: Tom Shaw, The Mustang & Fords Archives

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P51417_large 1967_Mercury_Cougar Front_Driver_Side

It was during the fall and winter of 1966-´67 that we came to know the legendary cat, the sign, and the slogan, "At the sign of the cat!" followed by the patented growl of a live Cougar. The lasting impression Mercury’s Cougar nameplate left is indelible. Always a Ford Division corporate cousin, in the beginning the Cougar was an upscale competitor for Ford’s Mustang. It had a longer wheelbase, rich styling, concealed headlamps, heavier sound deadening, more body stiffening, and better noise and vibration isolation.

The Cougar was a sports-luxury car for those who wanted more than a Mustang could deliver.In 1967, the Cougar was selected as Motor Trend’s "Car of the Year," thanks to the combination of engineering, styling, and market timing. Motor Trend saw the all-new Cougar as a trendsetter--and it was. Mustang and Cougar traveled side-by-side from 1967 until 1974, when the Cougar nameplate found a new home on the Torino/Montego platform. Later, the Cougar name would appear on the LTD II body (even as a four-door), the Granada/Fox platform (with an optional station wagon Cougar buffs would like to forget), and as a corporate sibling to the Thunderbird.

Today, the Cougar is built on the Mondeo/Contour/Mystique platform sans the luxury image it had for more than three decades. It’s now a sporty youth car focused on echo boomers of the generation that spawned the original Cougar. Remember the adrenaline rush of the ´67 rollout? The Cougar was striking, long, sleek, elegant. And, like the Mustang, the original Cougar generated a number of hot, performance versions to compete against the era’s baddest musclecars. There were GT-Es, Dan Gurney Specials, and Eliminators.

We took a look at the best of the best--the 10 hottest Mercury Cougars produced between 1967 and 1973. We consulted with the most knowledgeable Cougar buffs in the business, which means this piece comes from the heart of the matter--people who love Cougars.

Take a look at your favorites in the sidebars listed below.