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1973 Mercury Cougar - Junkyard Crawl

Here, Kitty Kitty

By Steve Magnante, Photography by Steve Magnante

The Mercury Cougar has always lived in the shadow of the much more popular Ford Mustang. And sales figures prove it-Mustangs generally outsold Cougars five to one. But as Mustang prices spiral out of reach for most of us, the beefier Cougar starts looking pretty good. Here's a sweet '73 XR-7 that's ripe for resurrection. Though all Cougars built in 1973 were powered by 351 small-blocks (the Boss 302 and 428 Cobra Jet options were eliminated after 1970, the 429 Cobra Jet after 1971), buyers in 1973 could still choose between the basic 168hp two-barrel or the 351 Cobra Jet four-barrel, which was nearly 100 hp stronger at 264 hp. Also available for the final time in 1973 was the optional Top Loader four-speed for Cougar Cats with a penchant for power shifting. Let's dig in and see what this desert relic has to offer.

Groovy Factoids
•75 percent of all fullsize '73 Mercurys (Monterey and Marquis) were built with vinyl roofs. By contrast, 98 percent of all '73 Cougars were vinyl clad, as luxury replaced raw performance.

•The original Cougar XR-7 option debuted midyear in '67 and included a woodgrain dash, a leather interior, and special trim. Do not confuse the XR-7 with the awesome GT-E 7.0L option, which mandated 427 or 428 big-block power.

By Steve Magnante
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