ON THE PROWL – 1968 Mercury Cougar

The Cougar is a unique beast that the Ford Motor company started pumping out in the late sixties from their Mercury division. The first gen models worse the basic foundations of the classic Mustang platform. The car wore new sheet metal and was a little larger than the ‘Stang. A full-width divided grille with hidden headlamps and vertical bars defined the front end – it was known as the electric shaver grille for obvious reasons. At the rear, a similar treatment saw the number plate surrounded by vertically slatted grille work concealing the taillights. The pillarless, two-door coupe wore and aggressive overall look but still maintained an air of class. The designers of the time tried to give the Cougar a European flavour with some of its styling cues which made it slightly more refined. For Peter Hardwicke, you can’t get much better than the Cougar and especially the ’68.

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“As soon as I saw one back in the day I knew I had to have one. It was tough and classy all at the same time. I loved how it was a mix of the Mustang and the Thunderbird. It took me a few years to complete the dream, but I finally got there. I started chasing them online over in the States last year, and when this car came up in my search I stopped right there and offered the coin without hesitation” Peter said.


It’s not hard to see why he grabbed this weapon. The factory Cardinal Red and vinyl roof combo looks the goods combined with the two-toned, 15-inch torque thruster styled wheels that ride on 225/60 treads. The black race stripe sets off the body lines nicely. Even though the car was neat, Peter reckoned he could make it better, so he got some expert help from Todd at Pro Street Polishing. “Todd did a brilliant job. He made the paint look unreal. He took his time and really excelled. I was stoked with his efforts” remarked Peter.


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Inside the car, the cabin has copped some custom work in the trim department. From the factory, they came in the dark maroon colour, but somewhere along the line, black has been thrown into the equation along with a set of different door cards that match the reworked seat pattern. Autometer gauges now fill the factory outlets with a sports styled wheel making an appearance.



Standard issue from the FoMoCo is the 289 cube motor but rest assured, this baby is far from standard. The little Windsor has been bored and stroked and equipped with a SCAT crank that takes the capacity out to 331 cubes. An Edelbrock manifold wears a 670cfm Holley carby while lower in the engine bay are shorty-styled headers that feed a decent sized twin system. The right amount of dress-up goodies makes looking under the bonnet a pleasure. A standard C4 box is matched to the factory 8-inch rear end that wears drum brakes, but back up front are new disc brakes. Peter can thank KYB for making the car sit so comfortably.


With some minor areas needing attention, Peter has managed to grab a real head-turner at the right price and fulfil a life-long goal. ‘The car is fantastic to drive – just enough power and so smooth. People are always asking what it is and taking photos of the car. That little bit of recognition makes the car that much cooler. It makes me realise I chose the right car to dream about all those years ago.”

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