Car: Mercury Cougar Convertible
What makes it special: For 1971, the Cougar was restyled, weighed less, and had only a one-inch-longer wheelbase than its predecessors, which was similar to GM’s intermediate-sized two-door models. The front end now featured four exposed headlights; the disappearing headlights were eliminated. The center grille piece was now larger, sharing its appearance with the 1971 Mercury Cyclone. The rear featured a semi-fastback with a “flying buttress” sail-panel. The convertible returned, as did the XR-7 and the GT package.
What made it famous: During its production life, as was common practice within the Mercury division, the Cougar shared much of its underpinnings with a Ford counterpart. At the time of its introduction, it was based upon the Ford Mustang. For 1971, the Eliminator package was dropped, but the Ram Air option remained. The engine lineup was revised for 1971, as well. Now only three engines were offered, such as the standard 240 hp 351 Windsor 2-barrel V8, the 285 hp 351 Cleveland 4-barrel V8, and the 370 hp 429 Cobra Jet 4-barrel V8.
Why I would want one: I’ve had the first-generation Cougar, but have yet to own the second-generation. I love the fact that it’s a convertible, although I do love the”flying buttress” sail-panel of the semi-fastback model. It gives it a late 60’s / early 70’s Corvette feel.
Fun fact: For many years the Cougar was important to the image of the Mercury division; advertising often identified its dealers as being “at the sign of the cat”. In the early 1970’s as part of advertising for the Cougar and Mercury, female models held big cats on leashes.