Car: Mercury Cougar Eliminator Drag Pak Coupe
What makes it special: Mercury raised its muscle car profile with the introduction of the 1969 Mercury Cougar Eliminator. Taking its cue from such rivals as Z28 and SS Camaros, as well as Ford’s own Boss 302 and Mach 1 Mustangs, Ford introduced the Eliminator in April 1969. The Eliminator came with a range of engines, from the Trans Am-inspired solid-lifter 302 cid small block to the 428 cid Cobra Jet big block. Mercury in these years was deeply involved in racing. It backed a variety of record-setting Comet and Cougar drag specials, as well as NASCAR winning Cyclones. It wasn’t until the release of the 1969 Mercury Cougar Eliminator that Mercury was able earn a reputation for muscular Detroit iron.
What made it famous: Like Mustang, the Eliminator offered the 428 cid CJ with and without Ram Air, as well as in Drag Pak guise with an oil cooler and a 4.30:1 gear-ratio Detroit Locker rear axle. The Eliminator didn’t use the shaker hood; its standard scoop was functional only when Ram Air was ordered. A blacked-out grille, side stripe, and front and rear spoilers enhanced the muscular look, and Mercury offered the Eliminator in a palette of “high-impact” blue, orange, and yellow exterior colors. More impact could be obtained over dealer parts counters, which offered not only headers and dual-quad carburetors, but exotic hop-up components like deep-sump oil pans and quadruple Weber carburetor setups. From the factory, or with these available parts, the 1969 Mercury Cougar Eliminator was true American muscle.
Why I would want one: There weren’t many of these made, plus they aren’t as common as Ford Muscle Car offerings, making these perfect for those of us that want something out-of-the-ordinary.
Fun fact: The Eliminator wasn’t the first attempt at a Mercury Pony Muscle Car. Cougar contributed with the 1968 GT-E, which like the Mustang, opened the year with an available 390 horsepower 427cid V8, then switched to the 428 Cobra Jet. The image was still more Euro luxury touring car than American muscle, though.
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