Blue w/Blue interior 428 C.J./335hp, 4-spd. manual transmission.
The turning point for the Mercury Cougar came in 1969, which is widely considered the peak of muscle car performance. The not-quite-a-Mustang cousin from Ford’s slightly upscale division came into its own that model year, adding a convertible and, more importantly, the Eliminator option, finally putting some fangs to the feline name.
Wider, longer and ultimately heavier than the ’68, the ’69 kept the same 111-inch wheelbase, three inches more than the Mustang, in a nod to giving the Cougar better legroom. The body took a stylistic departure from the Ford pony car as well, getting a sharp crease along the flanks that started at the nose and tapered down each side, ending just at the leading edge of the rear wheel arches–not all that much different from the way a Buick Skylark of the era distinguished itself from a Chevy Chevelle.
The Cougar grille took a 90-degree turn, going from vertical bars in ’68 to a fully horizontal affair while still retaining the car’s signature hideaway headlamps. The rear end, too, got a refresh, with the tail lamps going the width of the rear and the license plate getting moved from above the bumper to below it.
FoMoCo pulled out all of the stops to give the Cougar its promised European flair, particularly inside, where designers attempted to distinguish the car from the slightly shorter Mustang, notably with the woodgrain-look of the XR-7 models and the “camera case” blacked-out image of the Décor Interior Group. Those early Cougars were all V-8-powered, but with the Eliminator option bowing mid-year in 1969, Mercury served notice that its pony car could deliver all-American horsepower with an in-your-face attitude just like the hottest Mustangs.
Announcing its presence with the authority of four bold colors, the Eliminator came with a four-barrel-equipped 351 Windsor as standard kit. Though this 290-hp-rated engine was no slouch, it was just the primer for fans of horsepower. The four-barrel 390 served up 320 hp, and the wicked, solid-lifter, race-inspired Boss 302, also rated at 290 hp like the 351, provided plenty of high-RPM antics. At the top of the engine heap was the 428 Cobra Jet, which was rated at 335 hp and came with quite the wallop of torque. Although the 351 and the big-block engines were available on any Cougar, to get a Boss 302 in a ’69 Cougar meant ticking the boxes for the Eliminator first.
Ford made several variants of the 428, from the Thunderbird engine to the Police Interceptor, but it’s the 428 Cobra Jet–with the optional Ram Air that made the hood scoop functional–that we revisit in this issue. Used across many Ford and Mercury car lines, the 428 C.J. was a less expensive replacement to the 427-cu.in. variant of the long-running FE family. Though the 428 Cobra Jet was down on power from the race-ready 427, it’s slightly smaller bore, and hence wider spacing between cylinders, helped prove more suitable for large-scale manufacturing.
This amazing example is one of the nicest and rarest Eliminator’s to ever come out of Dearborn! As a matter of fact, it’s 1 of 1 with the equipment it has! The car has been completely restored and features its correct 428 C.J. engine mated to a 4-spd. manual transmission. Comes with a Marti Report, Window Sticker and more.