HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: 1968 Mercury Cougar GT-E

Pick of the Day: 1968 Mercury Cougar GT-E

This XR-7 with a 427 was FoMoCo’s last hurrah

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Mercury introduced the GT-E package in 1968 for Cougar and Cougar XR-7 models. Standard was the NASCAR-bred 427, now with 390 horsepower thanks to a hydraulic camshaft. An automatic transmission was the only way to go, but everything else about the GT-E was fabulous, including how it was trimmed: horizontal bars on the grille, blackened taillight louvers and silver trim running below the character line. A nice example of the 1968 Cougar XR-7 GT-E is our Pick of the Day. It is listed for sale on ClassicCars.com by a private seller in North Liberty, Indiana. (Click the link to view the listing)

cougar, Pick of the Day: 1968 Mercury Cougar GT-E, ClassicCars.com Journal

What’s interesting about the Cougar GT-E is that it’s the only 1968 FoMoCo product to be produced from the factory with the 427. The engine was listed as an option in brochures for the Mustang, Fairlane/Torino and Comet/Montego/Cyclone, but FoMoCo only installed the FE-series engine in the Cougar. While not a drag scorcher like its equipment may imply, that part was solved in April 1968 when the 428 Cobra Jet was introduced. CJ-equipped GT-Es can be identified by a noticeably larger, functional black hood scoop (the 427’s was non-functional) and black stripe running from the scoop to the nose. Only 37 were built — much rarer than the 357 built with the 427, but collectors gravitate to the 427 due to its NASCAR connection and mystique.

cougar, Pick of the Day: 1968 Mercury Cougar GT-E, ClassicCars.com Journal

This 76,351-mile Cougar XR-7 GT-E has received a frame-up restoration in 2010, with NOS parts used when needed. Augusta Green may not resonate like Cardinal Red, but it’s the same shade that was used on the Bullitt Mustang, so maybe being green ain’t so bad after all, especially with the contrasting silver. Being an XR-7, the leather interior was standard, with this one being black with center console. Other options per the Marti Report include power steering, power front disc brakes, black vinyl roof, AM radio, tinted glass, 3.50 gears sans Traction-Lok, chrome styled steel wheels and headrests, plus the most unusual options of the bunch: rear shoulder harness. This Cougar is also shod with period-correct Firestone Wide-Ovals.

cougar, Pick of the Day: 1968 Mercury Cougar GT-E, ClassicCars.com Journal
(Marti Report courtesy of Marti Auto Works)

“Email with serious questions about the best-of-show-winning 1968 Mercury Cougar XR-7 GT-E,” says the seller. “Registered with the Cougar National Database and the Cougar GT-E Registry.” These cars aren’t cheap, so the $129,900 asking price is not unusual. But compare it to a Shelby Mustang and you’ll be paying just as much but wouldn’t have the legendary 427, so perhaps this is a better value than initial impressions would suggest.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Hagerty
Diego Rosenberg
Diego Rosenberg
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle. But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in the Southwest.

13 COMMENTS

      • You are correct BUT they sold for UNDER the sticker. Basically all Big Three or AMC cars were sold at below the sticker price if the buyer had a double digit IQ. Folks who knew nothing about cars were familiar with the popular phrase, “You never pay the sticker”.

        That phrase entered the American vocabulary in the late 50s, early 60s after the rush to buy a limited number of cars was made by returning GIs. So for example the phrase is used in litigation negotiations or commonly, Salesman to builder, “50 windows will run you 135$ a window installed” Builder “You think I am going to pay sticker”?

        The sticker on my 1968 Cougar XR7 with a 302, A/C, PS, Power front discs, landau roof, AM radio, no power windows, vinyl seats was $3,668 w/o taxes or “fees”. My very educated guess is that $3,450 cash would have bought that car. Remember $250, 54 years ago on a $3,600 item was a significant reduction.
        The model being sold has a sticker which looks to me to be $4,900 ish. I can’t tell if the sticker here covers taxes or “fees” including destination charges. The car w/o the extra charges could be purchased for about $4,350 – $4,500 cash w/o “extra fees”.

        To me this is utterly irrelevant. There are any number of 1968 models which cost a lot less and way more than mine did. The value of the car in 2022 is unaffected by say a 2 – 6k price difference 54 years ago. Some Mustangs which cost the same or less than my Cougar in 1968 are worth double what I could get for mine. I can get way more than a person with a 68 Caddy or Lincoln which cost way more than my Cougar did in 68.

        Price when new is similarly irrelevant when valuing homes, land, antiques etc 50, 75 or 100+ years later on when values in 2022 is the only relevant factor.

        If the buyer of my car spent a few hundred dollars more for a 351 Cleveland my car would actually be worth much, much less.

          • I did not say it was a dealer option in either 67 or 68, You can Google the standard engine options for the first generation Cougar XR7s (67 & 68) some argue that 69 & 70 should be included and refer to them as first generation. BUT XR7 is defined as including an interior roof consul which neither the 69 or 70 had.

            Many owners of 67 -68 Cougars had Windsor or Cleveland 351s swapped into their cars replacing their original 289 or 302. A Dan Gurney GT w/ a 390 was/is worth more and a STOCK Cougar gets more money in the market because they tend to have matching numbers and in mint condition are far more rare.

            Factory engines available on 1968 cougar XR7
            289cid, 302cid, 428cid V8s. Power Output 210-335 bhp. A 390 Dan Gurney edition was available. Many Mercury dealers and independents would install 351 Clevelands or Windsors aftermarket when the owners wanted more power of the original engine was shot. Google Cougars 67-68 w/ 351s and you will find lots of them in various condition.
            A 68 XR7 in very good condition with a matching engine/trans go for 27,500 to about 60k. 67s are about the same.

            Every dealer who has made me an unsolicited offer to buy ( I am not selling) immediately asks if the engine is the original AND stock Ford engine that came with the car. Had I or the previous owner installed a 351 the car’s desirability drops dramatically.. Mercury offered the 351 on the 70 Cougar. So many owners of 67/68 would swap in a 351 after X years of ownership either to boost power or because the original engine had failed. A 67/68 with a 351 by definition is not a stock version of the car.

            So a 67/68 can not be pure stock with a 351. F

  1. One error in this article – the Bullitt Mustang was a different color. It was Highland Green, not Augusta Green as this author states.

  2. I have and drive almost daily 1968 Cougar XR7, 133k, 302, 2bbl, pure stock. Mint. I have owned the car for 20 years, bought it with 68k. Has not seen a winter or been driven in snow or salt since I bought it. Last 8 years it is a FL car. PS, Power Front Discs, A/C everything original.

    At 53 years old and 125k we replaced the original carburetor, fuel pump and A/C compressor. In 20 years I have replaced the door seals, front shocks and leaf springs. I show the car and invariably mine is the only Cougar. I get stopped about twice a week by folks wanting to buy the car. Dealers have offered me way, way over what Hagerties and others say is tops.

    The reason is the car is 100% stock. The above car is a beauty. Respectfully, finding Cougars w/ 390s, Dan Gurney GT models etc for 125k and over are less rare than finding a stock, mint 67 (which I had in college) or a 68 XR7 stock.
    Older Cougars are either huge project cars or high end beauties like the one above.

    While stock Mustangs from the era are common, Cougars which cost more when new, are not. I intend to die with my car and it is not for sale. I have received dozens of written offers for way over book because stock, mint Cougars are relatively rare. Lots of folks come over and say ‘what is that”? Mine is the original Saxony exterior, original pin striping, black vinyl roof and black interior. All original badges. Nothing modified. Original hub caps.

    I loved my 67 w/ 289 4 barrel and love my current car which is the car I drive – unless it is raining.

    I bought the car 20 years ago and put about 200$ in it. If I sold it today I would get 550% appreciation.

  3. I was born too late to have any real knowledge about these cars but I do have memories of them and never ever had a chance to ever own or drive one since I was 10 or so when they were the cars of the time incident start driving till I was 21…my family didn’t have cars….i went from riding motorcycles to driving tractor trailer so I never got to drive these cars when they could still be had….its great to see people that even today have such an appreciation for these old s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out mustangs made luxurious and called cougers

  4. Another memory I have is Alpha Bits the cereal had little models of these cars in the box and I had to eat a whole box in two sittings to find mine and it was a light baby sky blue mercury xr7 cougar!

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