(Editors Note: We revisit a story we published in the “More Than 2 Wheels” section of our other publication, MotorCycle Magazine.)
While we were at Davao City in 2009, we met up with our friend, Kenneth Sy, who gave us a tour of his huge storage facility that houses his eclectic collection of cars. At the time of our visit, the current apple of Ken’s eye among his vast collection was his recently acquired 1968 Mercury Cougar GT. Ken narrated that he bought this authentic muscle car through a friend who got it from the original owner, a local Ford dealer, who ordered the Cougar directly from America in 1968. “It was ordered with the best features available at the time”, he continued, “including the S-code 390 cubic-inch (6.5-liter) big block Ford V8 engine with 4-barrel Autolite carburetor, Merc-O-Matic three-speed automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, front disc brakes, factory A/C and luxury interior package.”
The Mercury Cougar was introduced in 1967 as the more upscale version of the Ford Mustang. It had a more mature styling, upscale interior appointments and rode on a longer wheelbase than the Ford pony car. While based on the Mustang platform, the Cougar’s suspension was upgraded with a hook-and-eye joint at the lower front A-frames to dampen ride harshness and worked in conjunction with longer and better-rated rear leaf springs and axle attachments. Produced only as a two-door hardtop – Ford Motor Company limited the sporty fastback to the Mustang – the Cougar came with standard simulated leather bucket seats, hideaway headlights and a choice of V8 engines. It was also named by Motor Trend magazine as their Car of the Year in 1967.
During its introduction, two trim packages – the XR-7 and the GT – were offered separately or together while in 1968, buyers can order the XR-7G version, where the “G” stood for American racing hero Dan Gurney, who raced for Mercury at the time. Ken’s 1968 Cougar GT features its original simulated walnut dash, power front disc brakes and special “6.5 LITRE” and “GT” identification badges while its numbers-matching 390 S-code V8 makes 335 hp at 4,800rpm and 427 lb-ft of torque at 3,200rpm . It had a published performance of 0-60 mph (0-100 kph) in 8.1 seconds and the quarter mile (0-400 meters) in 16 seconds at 92.3 mph (148 kph).
There were 81, 014 Mercury Cougars produced in 1968 with more than 32,712 XR-7 models and an undetermined number of GT models. Cougar GTs are becoming increasingly rare these days and only a few have survived with their original equipment intact. Kenneth Sy is one lucky guy because his 1968 Mercury Cougar GT is the real deal – an authentic American muscle car, a real survivor and one truly muscular cat.