1976 Mercury Cougar: Hot Tub Time Machine

Why a time machine? Because of this gaudy dealer sticker:

Yes there really is a Kalamazoo.

Yes there really is a Kalamazoo.

I lived near there. I discovered cars about the time I moved to that side of town. On Saturdays in the summer, I would ride my bike to the car dealers on Stadium Drive or downtown. Sometimes both. I could hit everybody but the Buick and GMC dealers (opposite ends of the city, with monstrous hills between me and them.)

Somehow, using performance car names for these sorts of badge-engineered relics* made sense and made them worth a teenager’s ogling. Anyway, it was a fun diversion for a kid.

Now this cat is back. It loved me so much it followed me to Arizona.

As a “Cougar,“ I hate it. It’s only redeeming “Cougar” value is to make me love the 1977-79 XR7s so much more. As peak mid-70s “personal luxury“ coupe, though, it’s aces - every bit a challenger to the Monte Carlos and Grand Prix of the day. Much more classy than the Ford “Elite.“

*This car is a Montego with a tweaked nose, grill inserts and taillight stripes. The Montego was a Torino with a different front endcap. The Ford Elite was this car with a different front endcap. Toss on a few more pounds and some unique pieces and you get a Thunderbird. Throw on even more pounds (“road-hugging weight”) and inches and you get a Mark IV. Tweak the chassis and get some fresh panels and name badges for 1977 and repeat the same LTD II = Cougar =Cougar XR7 = Thunderbird = Mark V.