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Classic Used Oil Generators: 1973 Mercury Cougar XR-7
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By Vern Parker

Just before Christmas of 1972 an order for a 1973 Mercury Cougar convertible was placed by the Thomassen Lincoln/Mercury dealership on Rockville Pike in Rockville, Maryland.

The order was received on December 6, 1972, and the actual automobile was built on December 14, 1973, one of the first 1973 models to hit the road.

Riding on a 113-inch wheelbase the XR-7 Mercury convertible was one of 3,165 built during that model year.

The handsome Mercury Cougar convertible tipped the scales at 3,530 pounds and had a sticker price of $3,903.

The car was ordered with the following features:

* Console.

* Power steering.

* Convenience group.

* E78x14 belted tires.

* White sidewall tires.

* Body side moulding.

* AM/FM stereo radio.

* Tinted glass complete.

* FX automatic transmission.

* Appearance protection group.

* Air conditioner – Whisperaire.

* White power top with glass backlight.

The above mentioned Mercury had no connection to the pair of Cougars young Jack Brownell passed by every morning in Falls Church,Virginia on his way to work.

Those days may be long gone but they remain the kind of cars that to this day appeal to Brownell.

Still hooked on Mercury Cougars Brownell has since moved to Maryland where he was captivated by a red Cougar in Gaithersburg in 2011.

Soon thereafter he acquired a white Cougar in admittedly poor condition.

In 1999, still enamored with Cougars he bought another one and took it to his new home in Rockville, Maryland.

“I had to be careful,” he says, “because it needed everything.”

There the car sat in a barn for more than a decade. In the summer of 2011 the Cougar was dragged out and sent off for a six month rebuild.

Brownell and his associates attempting to start the car were surprised when the long-dormant engine was cranked over.

It seemed to start okay but nothing appeared to be exiting the exhaust pipe until – the nest that mice had built in the tailpipe finally broke free and with a loud bang blew out the tail pipe at the rear of the Cougar.

Not uncommon, the timetable for the job kept stretching. However, during that extra time the 351-cubic-inch Cleveland V-8 engine was rebuilt.

Additionally, the extra time permitted the blue console, blue carpet and blue dashboard to be installed along with the aircraft-style toggle switches on the dashboard.

Mercury offered the 1973 Cougar in four versions, a standard hardtop coupe of which 21,069 were built. Only 1,284 standard convertibles were produced.

The XR-7 hardtop coupe was the most popular Cougar in 1973 with 35,110 manufactured. A total of 3,165 XR-7 Cougar convertibles like Brownell's were sold.

To this day Brownell marvels at how his attraction to Mercury Cougars began when he lived in Falls Church and he passed the neighbors house with the Cougars out front.

As for his Cougar, with 120,000 miles showing on the odometer, Brownell exclaims, “It's a great car. It's a highway car.”

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