Q: Hello Greg. I recently read your article “Which Mercury Cougar is the Rarest of All?” I’ve read your other articles in the Star News here in Wilmington, N.C., so I know you know your stuff about cars.
However, some of the production numbers quoted in your article are outdated. I help the Cougar Club of America and the Eliminator Registry track and document Cougar Eliminators. I’m also an Eliminator owner and enthusiast. (See photo).
You mentioned that only 264 of the GT-E models were ever delivered, most with the 427 powerplant. While lack of records existed in the past, the complete production number and breakdown by engine can now be found on the GT-E Registry page, here at http://gte.mercurycougarregistry.com/production/
To summarize, 394 GT-E’s were built, with 357 of those having the 427ci side-oiler engine, and 37 with the 428CJ engine. On the subject of rarity, only three of those GT-E’s were equipped with a 4-speed manual transmission. One of those cars sold at auction in 2015 for $228,800.
I think you will find that most Cougar enthusiasts disagree with grouping it with the other GT’s. The GT-E is simply in a league of its own, as far as Cougars go, accounting for both rarity and drivetrain.
As for the Cougar Eliminators, many previous numbers are now outdated. Instead of 2,411 1969 Eliminators and 2,200 1970 Eliminators ever built noted in your column it has now been confirmed that in 1969 there were 2,250 Eliminators built, while in 1970 there were 2,268 built.
Interestingly enough, there was one Boss 302 Cougar recorded as having been built without the Eliminator Option - which was not supposed to exist. We were finally able to track down that Boss 302 Cougar and prove that it actually did leave the factory with the Eliminator Option and that the Ford factory database had an error!
This brought an end to the “mystery Boss 302 Cougar” legend and simultaneously increased the production count for 1970 Eliminators by one.
I think the most rare Cougar would have to be the two 1969 Boss 429 Cougars you mentioned in your article, although these can hardly be considered regular production vehicles (as you also mentioned). Regarding these two cars, there is a lot of confusion on this subject because of period literature advertising the availability of the Boss 429 engine in the Eliminator. However, no Boss 429 Eliminators were ever built and neither of these two (special) Boss 429 Cougars was equipped with the Eliminator option. They began life as 428 Cobra Jets and were rebuilt to house the Boss 429.
Another Cougar rarity to consider is the XR7-G, with only 619 units built according to the XR7-G Registry (with statistics provided by Ford and Marti Auto Works. (http://xr7g.mercurycougarregistry.com/production-data/). Also very uncommon is any Cougar with the factory electric sunroof option. For example, there were only 101 Eliminators built with a sunroof in 1969 and 102 built in 1970, while the XR7-G sunroof cars number around 200.
As part of tracking/documenting Cougar Eliminators I search for recent posts related to “Cougar Eliminator.” The Eliminator Registry currently has about 1,100 Eliminators recorded, out of the 4,518 built. Some cars are known to have been destroyed, and others are only known by a VIN stamp on an engine block or a random document or newspaper advertisement However, we add around 10 to 20 new VIN’s each year as cars are pulled out of garages and barns, or parts and documents turn up.
Details aside, I want to say thank you for your article. The Mercury Cougar sees so little print that it is good to know the Cougar is not forgotten completely. Please also know that the little details I’ve touched on don’t matter to most people - except those of us who are just a bit too focused on our favorite car. Thanks again for everything you do for the collector car hobby! Michael Banks., Wilmington, N.C.
A: Michael, thank you very much for your excellent letter. Researching production figures is always a difficult proposition, and there’s so much misinformation out there. Now I know where to go when it has to do with the Mercury Cougar!
Noteworthy, too, were two other letters amongst some 25 I’ve already received from happy Cougar fans. A gent by the name of “Johnny Cougar” who reads the Cape Cod Times informs us of the same production number discrepancy in my original article. He’s the owner of a special ordered 1970 Cougar 428SCJ Convertible that he bought new 35 years ago. His beauty is ultra rare (perhaps the only survivor of just three built) and he has no plans of parting with it. He, too, enjoyed the extra coverage the Mercury Cougar received in his newspaper and has shared it on social media. (See photo)
Then there was Phil Jameison, also a Cape Cod Times subscriber who was also thankful for Mercury Cougar exposure and assisted in the production number tracking.
Thanks Mike, Johnny and Phil and all who wrote. Enjoy the upcoming holidays.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other Gatehouse Media publications. He welcomes reader input at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, Pa. 18840 or email at email@example.com.