About the Mercury Cougar

     Lincoln-Mercury introduced the Mercury Cougar in the 1967 model year and entered into an exploding pony car market.  By mid-1967, virtually every auto company competed to sell pony cars, so Lincoln-Mercury added several trick titles for the Cougar, like GT, XR7, and Eliminator--among some of the titles adopted between 1967-73.  Which brings me to the XR7-G. 

      In 1967, famous race car driver, Dan Gurney, signed with Lincoln-Mercury to race in the Group II sedan series as team manager for the Cougar racing team.  His name and image were used to promote the cars that first year with great success both on and off the track.  Ford first used his name on a special promotional model, the Dan Gurney Special Cougar. 

     The Dan Gurney Special Cougars were offered in both 1967 and 1968.  These cars were standard, base model Cougars with very low option status. To make a Dan Gurney Special in 1967, a dealer would install full wheel hubcaps and chrome engine dress up package consisting of valve covers, air cleaner top and oil dip stick.  Then the dealer would install a sticker on the right (passenger side) rear quarter window that read "Dan Gurney Special".  There was also a later 1967 sticker that read "Dan Gurney Special Motor Trend Car Of The Year".  In 1968 the engine dress up package was not included, only the wheel covers and the sticker were installed.

     The XR7-G is a totally different and unique car from the Dan Gurney Special and is the focus of this web site.  The XR7-G started life as the high option XR-7 as produced in the Dearborn plant in 1968.  The idea was to provide a "status" car similar to the Shelby Mustangs being sold and raced by Ford and to bring traffic into the showroom.  Dan Gurney was a race car builder and driver who was uninterested in building a car carrying his already over used initial so the job fell to Fordís old buddy Carroll Shelby.

     By 1968, Carroll Shelby had ceased to modify production Mustangs in his Los Angeles Shelby American factory because of expansion at LAX airport where the facility was located.  Ford founded a new corporation based in Michigan named "Shelby Automotive Incorporated" to continue production, and Carroll Shelby was now a board member of the new corporation whereas he had been and continued to be president of Shelby American Inc.  Got all that?  As confusing as that sounds, it gets worse because Shelby Automotive subcontracted the work on the Shelby Mustangs and Cougar XR7-Gís to another Michigan based firm named A.O. Smith Incorporated.  A.O. Smith had been a supplier to Generic Motors for the Corvette fiberglass bodies until they lost the contract in 1967.  So while Carroll Shelby and Dan Gurney donated their names, and in Danís case an initial to these cool street machines, neither man had much to do with the design or production. 

     But wait! thatís not all!  If an XR7-G were scheduled to receive a sunroof (most did) it was installed by yet another Michigan company the American Sunroof Corporation (ASC). 

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So to boil it all down: 

     Cougar XR-7ís intended for XR7-G conversion were built in the Ford Dearborn assembly plant and loaded onto rail cars for shipment to the A.O. Smith facility.  All modification work was performed at A.O. Smith to transform the XR-7 into an XR7-G.  If the XR7-G was to receive a sunroof, they were loaded back onto rail cars and shipped to American Sunroof Corporation.  ASC would install the sunroof, new headliner and vinyl top before the car would finally enter Fordís distribution system for sale or lease or in some cases rental under contract with Hertz.  Dan Gurney appeared in some ads and got paid handsomely.  Carroll Shelby attended a few meetings and was paid even more handsomely.

The XR7-G Package

Lucas fog lamps hood locking pins GT exhaust extensions
      Lucas fog lamps       Hood-locking pins      GT exhaust extensions

G hood scoop Bullett-shaped rear-view mirror Special G console
      Simulated air scoop                      Bullet-shaped      Special "G"console
                         rear-view mirror

XR7-G wheel caps XR7-G emblem on pillars
XR7-G emblem designs for center wheels caps, head light door, and pillars

Maurader 390-4V GT engine
Maurauder 390-4V GT engine 
Pictures above are from Jim and Elaine Pinkertonís Hertz XR7-G

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