Saturday, April 8, 2017
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
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.
Saturday, February 11, 2017
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!