While we all think of our Cats as "special," Lincoln-Mercury did produce a few option packages that resulted in especially unique Cats during the classic Cougar years. Our purpose here is to take a closer look at the "Special Cats" and, perhaps, eliminate a few myths along the way.
The very first performance package available on Cougars was the GT option. In fact, it was available on standard models before XR-7s began rolling off the assembly lines. The GT was also the longest running special option package, being available from 1967 through 1969 and again from 1971-1972 in a different form.
While the 1967-1968 GT packages varied slightly, the key components were the same. They included the 300+ h.p. 390 4V engine (code S) done up with chrome trim and a "low restriction dual exhaust" system, performance handling package, Wide-Oval nylon F70-14 white sidewall tires on six inch rims, power front disc brakes, and GT emblems on the front fenders (behind the wheel wells).
While the S code engine was still available in 1969 (its final model year) it was not included in the GT package and the entire GT option was gone in 1970.
When the GT returned in '71, it packed considerably less punch and had no specific engine as part of the package. The 1971 and 1972 GTs featured a high-ratio axle, heavy-duty suspension, racing mirrors, simulated hood scoop, performance cooling package, performance gauges, special wheel covers, F78-14 whitewall tires, and badges.
Dan Gurney Special
The Dan Gurney Special (DGS) was an appearance package available from the middle of the 1967 model through the 1968 model year.
In magazine ads from the period, the DGS package was advertised as including:
- Turbine wheel covers
- F70-14 wide-oval nylon cord whitewall tires
- Chromed engine dress-up kit
- Dan Gurney signature decal
- Cougar 289 cu. in. V-8 (standard engine)
The Dan Gureney Special was part of a two-year deal between L-M and Dan Gurney which also included Gurney's involvement in the 1967 Cougar TransAm series. Gurney appeared in a variety of print and television ads promoting the DGS and, to a lesser degree, the 1968 XR-7G. (See XR-7G below.)
The letter "E" was Ford's in-house code for their 427 CID 4V fire-breather (VIN code W in 1968). When L-M decided to build their first "muscle car" around this engine, the natural choice (to them) for a name was GT-E.
The GT-E option package was only available during the 1968 model year and, in their desire to make the muscle Cat distinctive, L-M designers gave it a unique silver gray lower body trim panel and a blacked-out grille with a horizontal chrome bar. There was also a twin hood scoop, blacked-out tail lights, and unique badges.
But the "E" was built to go. Typical quarter-mile times were in the low fifteen second range with speeds of 90 or better. What made the so quick was that 427 with a 10.9:1 compression ratio and 390 horsepower at 5,600 RPM. It should be noted, however, that the 427 was replaced mid-year with the CJ428, which many claim made for a more driveable car.
Priced at just over $4,000, the equipment list for the GT-E included:
- Competition-style, horizontal grille bar
- Blackout grille and taillights
- Twin-Scoop Power-Dome hood
- Bright lower side moldings
- Two-tone paint treatment
- Quad exhaust extensions
- Styled steel wheels
- Select-Shift Merc-O-Matic transmission
- Power steering
- Power front disc brakes
- Higher rate front and rear springs
- Large diameter stabilizer bar
- Adjustable, heavy-duty shock absorbers
The black/burgandy GT-E pictured here belongs to Jim and Elaine Pinkerton. It was selected as TCCN's Dream Cat in a subscriber survey earlier this year.
The XR-7G--sometimes referred to as the "mystery Cougar"--was also a 1968-only option package. The "G" stood for Gurney, who was under contract to L-M during 1967 and 1968 (see Dan Gurney Special, above).
The mystery (or confusion) surrounding the XR7-G package has mostly to do with what it actually included. The only magazine ad promoting the G described it as equipped with: "fog lamps, hood-locking pins, simulated air scoop, racing-type rear view mirror, GT exhaust extensions, etc., etc." But the actual cars varied considerably in the way they were equipped. For example, some had only one "racing-type" rear view mirror--others had two. Some Gs had quad-type exhaust extensions while many were equipped with the more common XR-7 type.
The "etc., etc." part of that ad copy also covered a lot of ground. The etceteras included a unique console and a few Gs were also built with leather wrapped steering wheels and/or Cobra-style shifter knobs. XR7-G identification included special badges (similar to the 1969-70 XR-7 badges, but with a large "G" at the bottom) on the C pillars, the dash and in the center of the stylish wheels. However, some Gs also had badges on their grilles.
Another element adding to the XR7-G mystique is the fact that it was a "special order" package, which meant each one was custom tailored to its buyer with items from the general Cougar option list. In other words, no two XR7-Gs were identical!
The final XR-7G mystery concerns how many were actually produced. They became available as a mid-year addition to the Cougar line-up in March of 1968 and the production numbers range from 304 to 421. While 304 is the traditionally accepted number, some Lincoln/Mercury Division documents indicate that 421 may actually be correct.
The lime frost green G pictured here belongs to northern Californian and Stray Cats Cougar Club member, Charlie Jourdain.
Available during the 1969 and 1970 model years, the Eliminator is the last and best known of the "Special" Cougars. The Elim was L-M's official Cougar entry in the muscle car market and it actually consisted of a combination of two (or more) option packages added to the Standard Hardtop. Elim production for 1969 was 2,411. In 1970, a total of 2,200 Eliminators were produced.
In 1969 the Eliminator Equipment and Decor packages included the following major items:
- Anti-lift front spoiler (air dam)
- Rear deck spoiler
- Styled steel wheels
- Blacked-out grille
- Hood scoop
- Remote control driver-side racing mirror
- Black curb molding
- Eliminator graphics
- Unique Eliminator paint colors (Orange, Yellow, Blue,and White)
- Hi-back bucket seats w/Comfort-Weave vinyl
- Black crackle-finish dash w/tach, rallye clock, trip odometer, and warning lights
- Rim-blow steering wheel
- Custom door trim
- Rear seat armrests
- Door-mounted courtesy lights
- Padded interior moldings
- Interior colors: black, blue or white with black or blue carpet
- Eliminator badges
- Performance axle
- 351 4V 290 h.p. (Windsor) engine
- Performance handling package
- F70 14 belted BSW traction tires
For 1970, the Eliminator packages included:
- Black-out die cast grille with vertical bar texture
- Black body side tape stripe
- Black hood scoop (functional w/Ram Air)
- Black hood tape
- Black front stone shield
- Black Front spoiler
- Rear spoiler, color-keyed w/black "Eliminator" tape stripe
- Left hand remote-control racing mirror (color-keyed)
- Right hand racing mirror (color-keyed)
- "Eliminator" tape on rear fender replaces Cougar script
- Wheel opening molding deleted
- Black 14" x 6" wheels
- Hub caps w/bright trim rings
- Black back panel and tail lamp bezels
- Bright cat medallion on fuel filler door replaces L-M crest
- Thin dual upper body paint stripes deleted
- Eliminator paint colors: Competition Green, Competition Blue, Competition
- Orange, Competition Gold, Competition Yellow, and Pastel Blue
- Black finish instrument panel
- 6,000 rpm tachometer -- 8,000 rpm w/optional Boss 302 engine
- Elapsed time clock
- Visual check panel with "door-ajar" and "low fuel" warning lights
- Full instrumentation including alternator, temperature and oil pressure gauges
- Simulated wood grain shift knob w/optional Select-Shift
- Eliminator badges
- 351-4V (Cleveland) 300 horsepower V8 engine (premium fuel)
- 3.25:1 rear axle
- Competition handling package
- F70 14 belted BSW traction tires with raised white letters