The 1971-1973 Mercury Cougars were the last of the Cougar Pony Cars. The car featured in this article is a 1973 Mercury Cougar XR-7. The XR-7 was the upscale model with leather seating and a wood grained dashboard.
First and Second Generations Mercury Cougar
The first generation Mercury Cougars were produced from 1967 through 1970. These first generation Cougars can be said to be Mercury's version of the Mustang. The 71-73 Cougars were somewhat more of a luxury car than a Pony Car during these model years. These were the second generation Cougars and had received a restyling.The Mercury Cougar actually started to have some resemblance to the Thunderbird and the Continental Mark IV. In fact, some will say that the second generation Cougars are not "real Cougars". They prefer instead the first generation cars.
The 1971-73 models were heavier cars . Design changes for this generation Mercury Cougars included a much more prominent center grille and exposed headlamps.The more luxurious XR-7 models were the top of the line. Compared to the 1972 Cougar, the 73 model styling was largely unchanged with the exception of the grille and the tail lights.
The 1973 Mercury Cougar was also the last year for it's Mustang chassis. Although it used the Mustang chassis through 1973, the wheelbase was three inches longer. The 1973 model was the last year of the Cougar 'personal car' concept that was first introduced in 1967.The 1974 model year saw significant changes for the Cougar models. That model was essentially a large luxury car.
Sales Pick Up in 1973
Sales had been sliding for a while and it wasn't until the 1973 model year that sales finally turned up. As an example, total production in 1971 for the Cougar XR-7 Hardtop Coupe was 25,416 vehicles. The 1971 production for the XR-7 Convertible was 1,717 vehicles. Two model years later in 1973, the production for the XR-7 Hardtop Coupe was 35,100 units. For the 1971 Xr-7 Convertibles it was 3,165 units. The ragtops, first introduced in 1969, obviously are the much more rare Cougar XR-7's. It's interesting to know that the 1973 Cougar Convertible was the last Mercury ragtop of that decade.
Mercury Promotes the 1973 Cougar
Mercury advertised the 1973 Cougar as a smooth riding car, as smooth as the high priced luxury automobiles. The reason per Mercury was simply " we build them better". The Mercury Cougar also had good success on the competitive racing circuit during the late 60's and early 70's. This was promoted by Mercury as well however during the early 1970's, new emission and safety standards imposed by the government along with the gas shortage crisis pretty much put an end to the real muscle car era that began in the mid 60's. What Mercury really did with it's Cougar model was to offer excellent performance along with a comfortable ride.
1973 Mercury Cougar XR-7 Specifications
The 1973 Mercury Cougar XR-7 was built with a 351 cubic inch eight cylinder engine delivering 168 HP with a two barrel carburetor. This model also was available with a four barrel carburetor putting out 264 HP.Transmissions included a three and four speed manual and a Select-Shift automatic.
Another engine available in limited numbers in 1973 was the Big Block 429 CJ V-8. This engine was rated at 375 HP. There was a police version for this engine as well.
Transmissions included a three and four speed manual and a Select-Shift automatic.
Overall outside car length was 199.5 inches on a wheelbase of 112.1 inches. Overall width was 75.0 inches. By today's standards the second generation Cougars were large cars. Weight for the 73 Cougar was 3,500 lbs.
See these additional Auto Museum Online car articles on the links below...
Mercury Cougar XR-7 Collector Cars
For the 1971-73 era , the 429 CJ cars are the ones in greater demand by collectors.
As of this writing we see second generation Mercury Cougar Hardtop Coupes with asking prices between $10,000 and $18,000. The price is dictated by condition and mileage plus any restoration performed.
The Cougar convertibles also have a wide range of asking prices. You should find some in the high teens area and for XR-7's in great condition in the mid twenties to the mid thirties.
(Articles and photos copyright 2015 Auto Museum Online)