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Eighties muscle in formal attire: 1989 Mercury Cougar brochure

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Images from the author’s brochure collection.

Only two years after its most recent facelift, the mid-year 1989/1990 Cougar got an even smoother, more aerodynamic design. This complemented the car’s newfound sophistication, which was evident in features like its electronic speed-sensitive, variable-assist power steering, four-wheel independent suspension and the XR7’s electronic automatic/firm ride control system, detailed in the illustration below.


Rather than using the supplanted V-8, that new XR7 followed the lead of its sister car, the Ford Thunderbird SC, in using a supercharged and intercooled 3.8-liter V-6 engine that made 210 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque. Both of those figures were nice boosts (pardon the pun) over the naturally aspirated Cougar LS’s 140 horsepower and 215 pound-feet of torque.


The LS’s ruched-and-pleated velour upholstery, like its faux wood interior trim, appealed to a different type of buyer than did the perforated leather and textured metal trim of the XR7, and further underscoring the latter’s sporting appeal was the standard five-speed manual transmission. We wonder what the take rate on that choice was! Either way, this generation of Cougar was pretty cool, and the last for traditional rear wheel-drive, before Ford took a chance with the comparably wild “New Edge” eighth-generation Cougar.

Which late-model Cougar is your favorite?

Click on the brochure images below to enlarge.