Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mercury Cougar: The First, Best Generation

Ford had a huge success on its hands in the form of the Mustang sporty car introduced in the spring of 1964.  So they figured that if you succeed, then try, try again.  What they tried was a slightly lengthened and more up-scale Mustang in the form of the 1967 Mercury Cougar.

Here is the starting point, the 1967 Ford Mustang.  Fearless styling critic that I fancy myself to be, I need to announce that the Mustang was not, and has never been, a great design.  I should do a complete analysis some day, but for now I'll just assert that the front end is awkwardly busy and that the fake side air scoops on many Mustangs are too obviously fake.  It's by no means a poor design, but improving it probably wasn't a big challenge to the Mercury styling staff.

Here is the 1967 Mercury Cougar, the best of the lot, in my opinion.  No fake air scoops.  A cleaner grille featuring Mercury's traditional vertical grille bars.

The feature I like best is only a small detail.  Notice how the top fender line crease makes a little J-hook matching the lower rear radius of the side window outline, and then it continues on to the rear.  This was new, neat and appropriate.  To me, it "made" the design.  Later Cougars didn't include this feature, and therefore didn't seem Cougar-like to me.

Here is a view of the rear.  Again, a clean (but not boring) design.  The vertical pattern on the tail lights mimics the grille bars thereby helping to tie the design together.

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