By on October 17, 2012

We make fun of the personal luxury coupe now, just as we make fun of leisure suits, WIN buttons, and Freakies cereal. Still, the rest of the world (except perhaps Australia) never experienced the glory of the huge, inefficient, vaguely sporty coupe with floaty ride and deep-tufted velour interior, and this is their loss.
You’re not going to see this no-apologies shade of green on any car interior made after about 1983, and that’s everybody’s loss.
You don’t want to know the horsepower output of this 351M engine . It will just make all of us feel vaguely depressed (hint: it’s less— a lot less— than the base four-cylinder in the 2013 Camry). The good news is that it churned out sufficient torque to get this 3,800-pound brute moving pretty well.
This car or the Cordoba?

Chrysler had Ricardo Montalban. Mercury had Cheryl Tiegs.

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57 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1977 Mercury Cougar...”

  • avatar

    I nearly bought one of these 20 or so years ago and it was comfy and quiet..
    I passed as it had some cancer I did not want to deal with.. These weren’t as bad they were remembered and I am not a Ford fan.

  • avatar
    Polar Bear

    Have to admire a car taking vulgarity to such heights.

  • avatar

    I don’t care what people say, I love 70’s disco barges. Discolsure: I have a ’76 Charger and ’77 Camaro in my collection.

    A part of me wants to rescue them all and swap modern powertrains in them and drive them forever.

    I guess that would make me the automotive equivalent of a cat-lady.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I love the irony of that now days Cheryl Tiegs is a cougar.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    That car has got to have one heck of an interesting history. Who in the world would affix a continental kit to a 1977 Cougar?!? Also, what did they use to pry open the driver’s door and the trunklid, a Hurst “jaws of life”?

    Also, that has got to be the most stripped Cougar of that generation (or any other) that I’ve ever seen. I always saw them nicely loaded, at least in my part of the world.

    • 0 avatar

      Well as DM335 points out below, this isn’t an XR-7, just a Cougar. The equivalent of a 2-door LTD II, not a Thunderbird. As such, it was a pretty rare bird. Most regular Cougars were 4-door sedans, just like most LTD IIs were.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Another thing – boy, did Ford ever milk that style instrument panel in the 1970’s. A few of the cars that I remember it been in:

    Ford Gran Torino
    Mercury Montego
    Mercury Cougar
    Ford Elite
    Ford LTD II

    I’m sure I’m short of a model or two…

    • 0 avatar

      IIRC, those are all actually the same car.

    • 0 avatar

      That steering wheel too, that lived on forever, even longer in trucks. My parents 84 Econoline conversion van had that wheel. Interesting that Ford put the cruise control in the steering wheel way before anyone else did,especially GM with that multi function stalk.

      • 0 avatar

        I work in a Ford dealership parts department, and every time someone comes in looking for those cruise switches or horn pad for one of their old relics (which happens more often than you’d think) I tell them to hit the junkyards and look for just about any F/L/M product manufactured in the 1970’s.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah…we had a 1976 Montego…base…blue metallic with blue vinyl interior (just lovely on a hot summer day!). But when I turned 16, got my license and started dating, I have to admit to having loved the rather large bench seat in that boat! I preferred the somewhat more rounded rear end of the Montego to the squared off lines that came afterward. Say what you want about these cars, but our Montego ran 13 years of trouble-free service before we sold it…

    • 0 avatar


      I had a ’77 Ranchero GT with that drivers’ pod, though with full gages and engine turned panels/

      I wanted to put either the Cougar or T-Bird front end on it.

      • 0 avatar

        I had a 78 Ranchero back in the 80s, when these were plentiful in the boneyards, found a paint code matching Cougar and did the front end change. Dead simple, only had to change out the sheet in front of the core support (fenders on Rancheros, Cougars and T birds were the same), the hood and front bumper. Since the paint was faded to match, it came out well. Got a lot of “When did Mercury build a Ranchero?” comments. Thought of the T-Bird swap, but putting in all the vacuum lines for the hidden headlights killed that idea. Changed out the interior for a T-Bird leather interior, (wanted headrests on the seats, and liked the power window switches and lock switch position better). My ex wife thought I was insane. Wish I’d taken some pictures of it.

  • avatar

    Freakies cereal? Nah…make mine Wheaties…but for a snack, NOTHING beats “Screaming Yellow Zonkers!

    I don’t have any love for these or any other opera-windowed boats, especially luxo-barges like these. What is a Cougar, anyway? To me, a Cougar is the original late 1960’s models.

    Y’know…thinking about these recent junkyard broughams lately – after all the years I hate on the GM Colonnades – it turns out GM did it right.

    You tell me: What would you rather own? This 1977 abomination or a 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe? Game over. No contest. Give me the Colonnade Cutlass any day, at least GM retained an air, however small, of “sportiness”.

  • avatar

    I had a 1976 Monte Carlo and a 1978 T-turd. Back then the Chevy was better! Now? I drive a 2011 Taurus.

  • avatar

    Ford was king of this crap in the 70s. The Cougar, the Elite, Gran Torino, T-Bird, Designer Edition MK IVs, even the Mustang II Ghia were all about as horrible as cars got. It’s hard to believe the same company made the original Taurus and ‘aero” T-Bird and now makes cars like the new Focus, Fusion and Fiesta.

  • avatar

    ‘RIDE-ENGINEERED’ (??) Ford had engineers in the 70’s?

  • avatar

    This Cougar was not really one of the “personal luxury coupes”. The Cougar XR-7, with an upgraded interior, different roofline and different rear end, was the equivalent to the Thunderbird. This Cougar 2-door was part of the mid-size line-up of 2-doors, 4-doors and wagons that was equivalent to the LTD II. In 1977 the Cougar nameplate replaced the Montego as the LTD II nameplate replaced the Torino. The Thunderbird was downsized and effectively replaced the Elite. The Cougar XR-7 continued in its role as Mercury’s personal luxury coupe.

  • avatar

    I love how it appears in the commercial that they cut away (at 00:24) just before the cat chomped into Cheryl’s right wrist.

    Egad, what a sled! Did it at least have 175 hp?

  • avatar

    The full green interior was definitely rare after the 80’s, but not dead. My mom had a ’96 Sable Wagon with a green-out interior. Green dash and door panels, roof liner, carpet, and even green leather. I’ll bet you can’t guess what color the exterior was?

    I know the Explorer had full navy blue interior options through the nineties, and you could get a Suburban with whorehouse red even as recently as the early oughts, IIRC.

    Who still does greens, blues and reds?

    • 0 avatar

      My BMW has the Chestnut leather, which is a fairly vivid red-brown color. On the 3-series coupes and convertibles you can get Coral Red which is RED! Ont he BMWs only the seats and door panel inserts are the leather color, the rest of it is black. Which is perfect – everything color-keyed just looks tacky. Though tacky is what those old disco-dreadnoughts were all about.

      My first stepfather had a special-ordered ’77 Pontiac Grand Prix that he drove on a long commute right up into the early 90’s. Odoneter had been around the block several times by the time the rust got unrepairable. Of course it was on its third transmission and second engine and had already had a ton of rot repair by the time he finally gave up on that barge. It was white with a lipstick red leather interior, no idea what engine, but the mileage was atrocious. And it was slower than….

      • 0 avatar

        Just got through looking at this car’s near twin sister, a green 1978 T-bird with leather bucket seat/floor shifter interior and a 302 engine. Car is mint but the owner is asking 8 grand which is a bit much IMO with the smaller engine and 63K miles. Was still interesting to look at and sit in. Really have a love for the old personal luxury coupes, especially the G-body 1978-1988 cars but the odd Cordoba and T-bird interest me too.

    • 0 avatar

      “I’ll bet you can’t guess what color the exterior was?”

      I’m going to go with white. I think I’ve seen one before and could only think, “Who thought this was a good idea?”

    • 0 avatar

      1995 Lincoln Town Car executive and signature interiors were equally opulent in green. Sadly, my 1996 was not available in such color.

    • 0 avatar

      Ah yes, Ford’s Willow Green interior. Seeing how it was a 1996, I’m guessing it was painted either Medium Willow Green, or Pacific Green.

      Man I miss those 1990’s colors!

      • 0 avatar

        You are correct sir, I’m fairly certain it was Pacific Green. Although Pacific and Willow Green are very close shades, as far as my I can tell.

        Speaking of Willow, good show. Madmartigan and everyone. “Willow, you idiot!”

  • avatar

    Gonna have to chime in here with some more Ford Intermediate chassis Cougar love. When I’m in the mood for a smooth, quiet car few scratch that itch quite as well.

  • avatar

    First car I ever drove by myself: A Champagne 1977 Mercury Cougar XR7. Memories trump reality, so I cannot utter an unkind word. I will attest that it could not spin the rear tires without the assistance of sand, snow or wet leaves.

  • avatar

    My dad drove one of these. Got it new as a company car. Worked for a big pharmaceutical company. His was tastefully done up in the popular Dove Grey. Better than a Cutlass, they were everywhere back then. His Cougar didn’t have the continental kit. I didn’t get much time at the wheel, but my younger brothers did. This Merc was preceded by a Cutlass…diesel that spent TONS of time in the shop. The X-body Buick Skylark he drove before the Cutlass was another disaster—he was done with GM products forever. In his dotage, when he drove cars he paid for he bought Nissans and Acuras.

  • avatar

    Like many other cars from this era, the exterior featurs deep recesses, raised chrome & aluminum bezels around lamps, glass, everything…and they were a booger bear to hand-wash, especially when bug-splattered. Many, many cuts from those sharp inner bumper edges, too! I love these oldies!

    • 0 avatar

      Washing my parents’ Torino and having to watch those inner bumper edges is exactly what I think of when I see a Ford product of this vintage. Those painful memories stick around.

  • avatar

    I owned a 10-yr old 77 XR7 when I was in college. What a boat. Averaged 15 MPG. It’s best feature was the 8-way power bench seat — perfect for the drive-in movies! I sold it when the front bumper fell off due to rust ( replaced it with a 2×6 piece of wood ), and the tranny couldn’t get out of second gear.

  • avatar

    Ahh.. my first car was one of these. Same green interior. Exterior was mint green. So many memories.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    As mentioned above these were actually much rarer than the upmarket XR7 model back then . A coworker had a base 1977 Cougar in a copper color with copper interior and the brown vinyl top . But at the time three coworkers had 1977 XR7s , one in this same jade green color with white top and two-tone white and jade leather interior , power everything and a moonroof – much classier car , though this was in 1982 and a lot of the power stuff no longer worked. My sister-in-law , a self-proclaimed ” Cougar queen ” owned a 1968 , 1971, 1977 ,1983 as well as a later aero Cougar as well as the end-of -the-line small one, I think a 1998 .

  • avatar
    Sylvilagus Aquaticus

    I owned a 1976 Elite with the 351M. The best ET I ever got out of it was 18.08 in the quarter, tripping the far lights in third gear (left it in D; manual shifting the auto slushbox made no difference) at about 78 MPH. My ’66 Mustang (271 hp 289) would do low 14’s as a comparison. The only real problems I had with it were the automatic choke, which would stick closed periodically and a fried alternator which got me stuck out in the woods late one night with a young lady with a curfew. Fortunately, there was enough battery left to call a friend with jumper cables on my CB radio (yeah, I know) and got back to the house.

    My brother owned a 1979 Thunderbird with a 302. The only improvement over mine was that he had leather seats whereas mine were ‘velour’ which was Ford’s codeword for ‘fabric that wears like iron’.

  • avatar

    Forevermore I will always think of a “The Postman” movie character whenever the term “Ford Lincoln Mercury” appears before me.

  • avatar

    Yeah, this is a base Cougar 2 door, replaced the Montego line for 1977. But had same front clip as the XR-7.

    Funny to see the manual crank window on a near luxury Mercury. IT’s same part as Pintos, Mavericks, and Mustang II’s.

    And I agree 100% that 1970’s Olds Cutlasses outclassed Mercury Montego/Cougars. Ford did get revenge on GM with Taurus/Sable, later. The W body Cutlass was a belly-flop.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Yes it must have been a 1999 model. Seemed like a total departure both for Cougar and the sister-in-law. It even had a stick-shift . In 2003 she wanted to replace it with a new one and was very disappointed that Ford had stopped production .

  • avatar

    When I was a kid, my dad had a 1977 LTD II coupe. Grey with all red interior. He called it the Grey Ghost, and my sharpest memory is when the transmission went out and very early on a Sunday morning he drove it backwards down to the transmission shop because he didn’t want to spend money on a tow – he still talks about the 1981 recession being “a real bitch.” I’m thankful my wife and I have never had our finances be that close. I’m also grateful to Dad for teaching me about money.

    That car seemed huge to me then, with a crazy long hood. Hard to believe it was considered a mid sized car. Also hard to believe it was replaced by the Panther platform, a 16 year old but perfectly reliable example of which I have in my very own garage.

  • avatar

    I don’t know about you guys, but I hate the way these things drive. They feel twice the size they are on the road, conversely a cadillac of the same vintage feels like a smaller vehicle when you drive it.

    As for the choice between this and the cordoba? I’ll take a cordoba every time thank you very much. It just drives better.

  • avatar

    My dad always had Mercurys when I was a kid. We’d had Montegos before he retired (due to illness), and he’d planned on buying a then new 78 Cougar XR7 to replace our 74 Montego. Unfortunately, he died before he could do this.

    I had a friend in college who had one of these low level Cougars, IIRC it had a 351 and FMX in it, and the trans made this weird moaning/gurgling sound. It never slipped or failed as we drove this thing all over Cleveland and environs, but we never could figure out WTH the noise was, either.

    The worst memory about the car was running out of fuel DOWNHILL from the closest gas station. They refused to lend drunken college kids their ‘jerry’ can, so we had to push the damned thing back up the hill to get fuel.

    Ah, college days…

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Back in the mid-80’s I bought a 75 Cougar XR-7 351 2v with most options, in silver with Magnum 500 wheels,maroon landau roof,matching two-tone interior buckets, console and gauge pkg. I bought it to replace my 70 Mustang coupe w/302 2v which had 200k on it and was getting worn. The Cougar did not handle as well as the more nimble and taunt pony car but was still ok for a Disco-era personal luxury coupe. After a year and normal maintenance I sold it for the same $600 that I paid for it due to it starting to have a rear main seal leak.

  • avatar

    Say what you will about those 1970’s Ford “intermediate” boats – they were good for over 200,000 miles and built like tanks (and drank gas like one too). We had a 1973 Torino wagon with 225,000 miles and it was still going – Mom got tired of it and sold it for a 1989 T-Bird which she absolutely loved.

    I kept that Torino looking like new and it took forever to polish and was because of its size.

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