AJ's Car of the Day '68 Mercury Cougar XR7-G 428 Cobra-Jet

Car: Mercury Cougar XR7-G 428 Cobra-Jet

Year: 1968

What makes it special: The first generation Cougar finally gave Mercury its own "Pony car," and slotted between the Ford Mustang and the Ford Thunderbird, the Cougar would be the performance icon and eventually the icon for the Mercury name for several decades. The Cougar was available in base and XR-7 models, and only came in a two-door hardtop body style.

What made it famous: Mercury was serious about the Cougar being the performance icon for the company. The XR7-G was named for Mercury road racer Dan Gurney and came with all kinds of performance add-ons, including a hood scoop, Lucas fog lamps, and hood pins. Powerplant selection was limited only to the 302, 390, and 428 V8. A total of 619 XR7-G's were produced, and of those, only 14 G's were produced with the 428 Cobra-Jet V8. Conservatively rated at 335 hp, the 428 Cobra-Jet could produce 410 hp from the factory.

Why I would want one: I've had two Mercury Cougars in the past, ( a 1967 and a 1968 ) and loved them both. I swapped out the original 302 from the 1968 and replaced it with a 351 Cleveland Ford V8, and that changed it's performance a great deal. I can only imagine the pavement melting action that the same car would have with a 428 Cobra-Jet V8. Wow....

Fun fact: The last Mercury Cougar rolled off the assembly line on August 9, 2002.

( 1968 Mercury Cougar XR7-G photo from cougparts.com )