1973 Mercury Cougar XR7
Both the Mustang and the Cougar grew in 1971, but the Cougar seems to wear the extra size better than its cousin. This 1973 Mercury Cougar XR7 convertible has a sporty look that works with a luxurious interior to create a unique kind of muscle car, and with a rare 351C Cobra Jet V8, it's more than just pretty. Subtlety was lacking in the early '70s but this relatively muscular cat keeps its performance credentials on the down-low. The chiseled good looks of the Cougar reflect both the pony car and Lincoln DNA in its family, and depending on the angle, it's both sporty and elegant. The narrow front grille with "power dome" hood are certainly reminiscent of Lincolns of the same period, while the kicked-up quarter panels behind the doors are pure Mustang, making for a very attractive package. It was repainted not too long ago and has a great shine and good sheetmetal underneath, a perfect Sunday afternoon cruiser that doesn't need any special attention. A chrome trunk rack is an unusual accessory but we have to admit that we like how it looks, and a set of Magnum 500 wheels keeps it looking aggressive. Nobody will mistake it for anything else from behind, as the downturned taillights and massive chrome bumper are unique to this model, and it still carries factory Cougar badging. If you've driven an early '70s Mustang, you'll feel right at home in the mostly original interior. The bucket seats are a little wider and a little softer, but the array of round gauges are pure pony car. The interior is showing some signs of age, but it's still serviceable and we're undecided on whether we'd preserve or restore the seats. The rest is pretty darned nice, including the carpets and door panels, so leave those alone. The gauges are still bright and crisp and the woodgrained applique still looks bright. For entertainment, it serves up the original AM/FM radio and the options list includes power windows, A/C (works, but needs a charge), and a tilt steering column. The top is power-actuated and stows with the touch of a button and is probably only a few years old. Ford's 351 cubic inch Cleveland "Cobra Jet" V8 was torquey and very user-friendly in the Cougar, offering good performance without being fussy. Given the condition of the engine bay, we have every reason to believe this is the car's original powerplant and has probably never been out of the car. Ford Blue paint is nicely preserved and like the interior, it would probably be a mistake to start restoring things. Clean it up but don't go too far. Power steering and power front disc brakes were standard equipment on the heavier, more luxury-oriented Cougar, and it exhales through a proper dual exhaust system with both mufflers and resonators, so it never sounds too aggressive. An FMX 3-speed automatic transmission is unobtrusive in operation and it carries a heavy-duty 9-inch rear end with towering 2.75 gears, making this a fantastic highway cruiser. The undercarriage is pretty original, but this car has spent most of its life in a warm climate so while it's a little grungy, you won't be worried about its structural strength while you're out cruising. Magnum 500 wheels can make even a school bus look sporty, so they're perfect for the Cougar and carry 205/70/14 BFGoodrich radials at all four corners. A nice combination of performance and luxury, this Cougar ragtop suggests that you don't have to give up fun when you grow up. Call today!