Treasure Hunter Unearths Incredibly Rare 1968 Mercury Cougar, Complete with Numbers-Matching V8

Dennis Collins has been hunting rare classic cars for years now. He's usually after low-production first-gen Ford Mustangs and old Jeeps, but from time to time, he spices things up with something different. His latest "Coffee Walk" brought a super-rare 1968 Mercury Cougar to his shop.

The Cougar arrived in late 1966 as the division's take on the extremely successful Ford Mustang. But even though it shared underpinnings with the latter, the Cougar had a slightly longer wheelbase, a unique front fascia with hidden headlamps, and a more luxurious interior. And unlike the Mustang, it only came with V8 engines.

While it wasn't as successful as the Mustang, the Cougar exceeded initial sales projections and remained in production all the way until 1997, and then made a brief comeback from 1999 to 2002. With almost three million examples produced, the Cougar is the highest-selling Mercury nameplate, while its 34-year production run is second only to the Grand Marquis.

The first-gen Cougar is by far the most desirable iteration of the nameplate. Not only does it look hotter than all the Cougars that followed, but it also comes with all the cool V8 powerplants that Ford offered during the golden muscle car era. The fact that Mercury also offered limited-edition models like the Eliminator, XR7-G, and GT-E also helps.

But there's at least one package that's often overlooked. I'm talking about the GT bundle. Available for both the standard Cougar and the XR-7, it was the company's first high-performance take on the Cougar. It came with an upgraded suspension, larger brakes, and a low-restriction exhaust system. More importantly, it was fitted with the 390-cubic-inch (6.4-liter) FE "Marauder" as standard.

Come 2023 and 390-equipped Cougars are quite rare. That's because only 8,100 out of 113,720 examples built in 1968 were selected with the said engine. That's only six percent of total production. And only a few of them were also fitted with the GT package. The car you see here, for instance, is one of only 20 Cougars that left the assembly line with the 390 V8, the four-speed gearbox, and the GT bundle.

If we also factor in the original Cardinal Red paint, which was Mercury's equivalent of Ford's Candyapple Red, this Cougar is probably one of fewer than five cars built like that or even a one-of-one gem. Yeah, it's the kind of classic that Dennis Collins usually hunts to rescue and restore.

Even though he found the car sitting on the owner's front lawn, the Cougar looks like it spent a lot of time in storage. The paint has faded away, the body shows a few rust holes, and it appears to be missing a few components. But it's mostly an all-original survivor that still rocks a numbers-matching 390 V8. And that's very hard to find nowadays.

Fortunately, he's planning on restoring the car, so we might just see this thing on public roads or at an auction event as early as 2024. It definitely deserves a second chance given the rare specifications and unmolested condition.

Dennis also bought a very cool 1981 Honda CM200T from the same owner. Despite being more than 40 years old as of 2023, the bike is in pristine condition and has only 358 miles (576 km) on the odometer. Check out both of them in the video below.

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