1973 Mercury Cougar cruises highways

Farm Forum

Jack Brownell marvels when he remembers how his fondness for 1970s Mercury Cougars began when he passed neighbors homes with Cougars parked out front. Those days are long gone, but they remain the kind of cars that to this day appeal to Brownell.

So in 1999, he finally acquired a 1973 Mercury Cougar XR-7 Convertible, but it ended up sitting in a barn for more than a decade.

In the summer of 2011 the Cougar was dragged out. “I had to be careful,” he says, “because it needed everything.”

Brownell started the car and was surprised when the long-dormant engine cranked over. It seemed to start okay, but nothing appeared to be exiting the exhaust pipe — until the nest that mice had built in the tailpipe finally broke free and with a loud bang blew out the tailpipe.

Not uncommon, the timetable for the body restoration job kept stretching. However, during that extra time the 351-cubic-inch Cleveland V-8 engine was rebuilt. The extra time permitted the blue console, blue carpet and blue dashboard to be installed along with the blue aircraft-style toggle switches on the dashboard.

Riding on a 113-inch wheelbase, this handsome Mercury Cougar convertible tips the scales at 3,530 pounds. It was purchased with a base price of $3,903.

The convertible was ordered with the following features: console, power steering, convenience group, white sidewall tires, body side molding, AM/FM stereo radio, tinted glass, FX automatic transmission, appearance protection group, Whisperaire air conditioning and white power top with glass backlight.

Mercury offered the 1973 Cougar in four versions, a standard hardtop coupe of which 21,069 were built. Only 1,284 standard convertibles were produced.

The XR-7 hardtop coupe was the most popular Cougar in 1973 with 35,110 manufactured. A total of 3,165 XR-7 Cougar convertibles like Brownell’s were sold.

With 120,000 miles showing on the Cougar’s odometer, Brownell states, “It’s a great car — it’s a highway car.”

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