Wednesday, March 1, 2017

1966 Mercury Cougar

The first Mercury Cougar. Still image from video below.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Lincoln-Mercury introducing the Cougar personal compact, and June’s edition of the Carlisle Ford Nationals will boast a landmark car on its Pennsylvania premises: The very first Cougar ever built. It’s got a great history, so read on.
Coincidentally in 1966, Ford was establishing a deep-water shipping port for its Canadian dealers on the Bay of Fundy in Moncton, New Brunswick, and a contingent of Ford brass were there with the retailers for the port’s dedication. At the time, Dryden Motors in Moncton was the oldest Ford-Lincoln-Mercury dealership in Canada, and sent its principal to the event. He buttonholed then-Ford boss Lee Iacocca and said he was way down the list of dealers guaranteed to get a new Cougar. Iacocca agreed to help.

Thing was, Ford Special Vehicle Operations sent Dryden Cougar One, the very first example, which Dryden learned it couldn’t sell because the Mercury lacked the requisite Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin. Nevertheless, Dryden still put it out on a 35-month lease, and when it was returned, Cougar One remained on the property until 1979. After the principal died, Dryden lost its deal with Lincoln-Mercury, the dealership filed for bankruptcy protection and the Cougar was auctioned off. A local hardware retailer, Dale Garland, ended up with the Cougar and tried to sell it in 1982. Amazingly, there were no takers.

The story gets better. Cougar Club of America member Marc Ogren was at a swap meet and found the original issue of Cars & Parts where the Cougar was unsuccessfully advertised. He then began a single-handed hunt to track down the missing Mercury, first by tracking down Garland, who still owned the car and still lived near Moncton.

Coincidentally, fellow Cougar Club member Jim Pinkerton was on business near Moncton and agreed to inspect the car to verify its first-built status. Five pages of notes ensued, which were diligently sent to Ogren, who then purchased the Mercury from Garland. Nine month later, Ogren came to the realization that he had neither the money nor the inclination to perform a museum-quality restoration on the car, and offered to sell it to Pinkerton for the amount already invested and the understanding it would be properly restored.

With 24 months to go until the Cougar’s 30th anniversary, Pinkerton pitched an offer to Bob Lutz, then with Lincoln-Mercury: If the automaker agreed to fund the restoration, Pinkerton would lease them the car for $1.00 to display at 30th anniversary events. The plan very nearly worked, but instead Lincoln-Mercury opted to develop an all-new front-wheel drive Cougar, reducing the appeal of displaying the first car for promotional purposes. Pinkerton carried on with the restoration, and thanks to his efforts the Cougar looks just as it did when hand-built by Ford workers back in 1966.

1966 Mercury Park Lane Convertible

1964 Mercury Comet Caliente

1940 Mercury Town Sedan

1954 Mercury Sun Valley

Saturday, February 11, 2017

1980 Mercury Bobcat

Here’s a 1980 Mercury Bobcat, a Ford Pinto with chrome, pretty much. This one looks pretty good other than that rust starting to appear on the bottom of the driver’s door. This Bobcat is on Craigslist with an asking price of $2,450 and it’s located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

This side looks much better! The Bobcat was Mercury’s first compact car first appearing in the US in 1975 and ending with the 1980 model year. The odometer shows 53,481 miles, could that be true?

Bumper bummer, it looks like someone either used it as a springboard or someone backed into something. Maybe that panel can be pushed back into place. Those are pretty sexy bumpers, no? Yeah, you’re right; no. This is a one-owner car according to the seller and it looks pretty good other than that rust on the driver’s side door.

Those seats! Nice, very nice. The automatic floor shifter! Not as nice. In a car with as few horsepower as this one (88), it’s always nice to be able shift through that limited power by yourself. Other than that, things look great on the interior. The back seats are even nicer than the front seats are, probably because they’re hard to get in to and hard to fit in to if you’re older than a teenager. There are no engine photos, but this car should have Ford’s 140 cubic-inch, 2.3L inline-four with 88 hp. If a person were completing their Mercury Bobcat collection and looking for a 1980 model to top it off, this looks like a good one!


1971 Mercury Comet

We’ve seen a few Pintos and Vegas here lately, but not nearly enough Comets! Here’s a fantastic-looking fancy Maverick, it’s a 1971 Mercury Comet. This solid beauty was sent in by Barn Finds reader Pat L and it’s on Craigslist with a healthy asking price of $3,700.

This new Comet design was quite different than the previous generation cars, to say the least. The 1971-1977 Comet was based on the Ford Maverick and it’s easy to see the resemblance. This is the last-generation for the Comet as the Mercury Zephyr followed in 1978.

The photos in this listing aren’t the best, with only two full exterior photos, one passenger-side interior photo, and no engine photos. But, Barn Finds reader AMCSTEVE has a good theory as to why a lot of sellers don’t provide a full bank of nice photos: then they can weed out the tire-kickers and field actual phone calls (the original function of the ancestor to your $120 a month smart phone) from seriously interested folks. That makes total sense to me, sorry for always bringing up the quality, or lack thereof, with the photos in ads.

The interior looks solid with just that one odd wear spot on the upper-passenger seat back and some carpet wear. The seller says that it has a, “new motor, 6 cylinder, automatic transmission, new tires, original condition.” I’m not sure if that means that it has a new transmission or the “new” parts are the engine and tires? You’ll have to take AMCSTEVE’s advice and give them a call to find out! This really does look like a nice, solid ’71 Comet, most of them aren’t in this fine condition so many decades after leaving the factory. It isn’t a Comet GT, but it would be a fun, weekend cruiser for local car shows. Are there any fans of this era of Comet out there?