Home » How Ford Could Attack The Electric Dodge Charger With A Mustang That’s Not A Mustang

How Ford Could Attack The Electric Dodge Charger With A Mustang That’s Not A Mustang

Mercury Rising Daydream Ts
“Could you change into some khakis or something else, please?”
This is a statement that I get from my Mom as we head out the door to some event that she might see as “formal” and “they might take pictures.” She isn’t pleased with the fact that I’m wearing Levi’s. It doesn’t matter that they’re dark jeans that will be more than fine, nor does it matter that I’m wearing a suit jacket, and it absolutely doesn’t matter that I’m over fifty, married, and have kids. You’re not embarrassing the family (read: her) at this stupid thing, dammit.
Car companies are no different.
There are plenty of instances where proletarian examples of automobiles are mildly dressed up to (fingers crossed) credibly wear the badges of a higher-tier brand. There are notorious cases of this gambit not remotely working (see the infamous Cadillac Cimmaron), but it’s palatable to consumers even if it’s not exactly fooling anyone – kind of like me in a pair of unironed khakis. Vanilla-model fancification to achieve suitable brand cred is still being done today, and for today’s wheeled what-if, we’ll resurrect a famously gussied-up FoMoCo coupe to make a fresh model competitive with a new and much-hyped EV on the scene.

Even Mellencamp Dropped The Cougar

The Mustang has always been the fun, free-spirited compact that attracted younger (or young at heart) people to Ford dealerships. After the runaway success of the Mustang’s 1964 introduction, the other divisions of the Blue Oval wanted in on the action. In the same way that my Mom frowns on me wearing jeans, no matter how dark or well-ironed, to a restaurant that requires reservations, you can’t just drive a ‘Stang onto the showroom floor of a Lincoln Mercury dealership. You can’t seat a greasy kid like Mustang next to Uncle Lincoln at the table; you need to dress it up at least a little.
To make the new-for-1967 Mercury Cougar, Ford kept the basic shape of the Mustang but removed the side “scoops” of the quarter panels and capped off the front end with dramatic full-width chrome-ribbed “electric razor” grille complete with concealed headlamps. In back, the “razor” look repeated with a full-width taillight that included the first use of sequential turn signals (via a mechanical distributor, incredibly). Inside, the dashboard attempted to mimic the wood-plank-with-Smiths-gauges look of European touring cars. The end result was rather brilliant and achieved a more upscale aesthetic without being fussy or stodgy.
1967 Mercury Cougar
Mercury even offered the sport/performance-oriented XR7 package to create a less-luxury-oriented Cougar; the “iron fist in a velvet glove” approach was an attempt at an “import-style GT” rather than a muscle car. The XR7 treatment was a rather superficial way of dressing up an old Falcon chassis and to make two cars that were virtually identical under the skin appear to be wholly different models – but it worked.
James Bond fans know that a Cougar is not only good enough to grace a Lincoln Mercury dealership, but completely acceptable to a Countess. The late, great Diana Rigg’s character in the Bond Outing On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was a crime syndicate head’s daughter with a troubled past who drove not a Maserati,  not a Jaguar, but a red 1969 Cougar XR7 convertible – one of only 127 made with the Cobra Jet 429 under the hood scoop, in fact. Incongruous and enigmatic as it might have seemed driving through Europe, it certainly looked damn cool and seemed to fit the part far better than something of such humble origins should.
Cougar Auction
As with the Mustang, the Malaise era was not kind to the Cougar. In 1974, when the Mustang became the shrunken much-lambasted Pinto-based Mustang II, the Cougar name shifted to a version of the “mid sized” (but even bigger) Mercury Montego (a twin to the Ford Torino, the same model you’ll recall from Starsky and Hutch). That wasn’t the final insult. Later in the decade, when the Mercury Montego moniker was dropped, the Cougar name was slapped onto sedans and a station wagon. And no, it was not a cool station wagon.
Cougar Malaize 4 16
The boxy Fox-based 1980-82 Cougar that followed was no better; this time,  Mercury offered a Cougar-badged Ford Fairmont sedan and wagon as well. Sadly, when Ford finally redeemed the T-Bird and introduced arguably the best examples ever (the 1983 “Aero” and 1989 “Super” birds) the Cougar versions received curious, upright rooflines that ruined the lovely shape of those nice designs.
Cougar Eighties 4 16
The final appearance of the Cougar name was on a rather decent-looking and reasonably competitive front-wheel-drive model that was unfortunately released just as the Great Coupe Purge of the turn of the century arose. The Cougar didn’t really stand a chance with that market segment dying.
Screenshot (168)
Since we’re scraping the barrel for any nostalgia cars these days, it’s a shame that the original Cougar couldn’t see a second life – but I think I have a way for that to happen.

A Mustang Rigged (Get It?)

Ford has done the sneaky marketing move of creating an EV Mustang that really isn’t an EV Mustang. By making a crossover with the name Mustang Mach-E, Ford has simultaneously tapped into the Mustang’s name recognition and avoided at least 80 percent of the weeping and gnashing of teeth from pony car enthusiasts. It doesn’t hurt that the Mach-E is a strong, nicely-priced product, either. Ah, but now we have the new Dodge Charger, available as both a high-powered EV and a gasoline-burning machine in a reputation-be-damned bold move to bring an electric muscle car (not a muscle-crossover, but an honest-to-gosh muscle car) to market.
Screenshot (169)
Ford can pretend that they didn’t see that and go about their business, but this is America: we can’t let a pony car war go unfought, can we? Here’s where the Blue Oval can get tricky. In the same way that Ford does with the Mach-E, they can sell a Mustang that isn’t a Mustang. This time, though, the Mustang substitute I’m suggesting will be an actual Mustang, just disguised as something else to not violate the sanctity of the sixty-year-old name. Enter the Cougar EVR-7.
Cougar Side View Convertible 4 17
Admittedly, the current Mustang was likely not designed in any way shape or form to be converted to an all-electric machine, but that’s not to say it couldn’t be done. Batteries and motors could take the space freed up by the dispatched engine and transmission, and the driveshaft tunnel could also be put to use as there’s no need for a driveshaft with front and rear motors spinning each pair of wheels.
The Cougar was never offered as a fastback, so the Mustang’s fastback look isn’t a candidate. But there certainly was a convertible Cougar. If money and time permit – and as this is all fantasy, they will – I’d make a notchback roof.  But if engineering constraints raise their ugly head – which I cannot ignore, fantasy or not – I would simply do a bolt-on hardtop for winter months to capture the look of the original.
Cougar Side View Hardtop 4 17
The “electric razor” fascia wasn’t working for me, so I went with an homage to the later 1969-70 car and added hexagon-pattern grilles. Retractable headlight covers would likely be needed, as on the latest Volvo SUVs. The Mustang’s vestigial “side scoop” is replaced by the Cougar’s sweeping character line recess. I removed the raised areas on the current Mustang fenders to flatten it out and make the look closer to that of the original car.
In back, a full-width taillight is essential – don’t even ask if it has sequential turn signals. How could it not? If there’s an array of LEDs behind that lens we could even make it spell out  C O U G A R  on startup.
Cougar Rear 4 17

The Sign Of The Cat, Or Charging Block

The big quandary I ended up having with this thing was wondering if this electric cat (hmmm, ElectriCat …) should be called the “Ford Cougar” or “Ford EVR-7.” Mercury advertisements way back in the day told you to come to “The Sign of the Cat,” and readers of a certain age will no doubt recall the feline’s signature snarl. (Not related to our EV fantasy but fun to watch: this video of cougar wranglers making like Seigfreid and Roy as the big kitties flounce around nightmare malaise cars:)
Screenshot (177)
The Cougar was really Mercury’s flagship car, and it seems a bit sad to use the name with the Ford brand. I raised the question to Jason, and he had another idea: what if the Mercury name came back as an all-EV brand?
That’s not as strange of a concept as it first sounds. When you think of many if not most of the electric cars available today, they’re all rather expensive and upscale. Tesla buyers will cross-shop the likes of Rivian, and it’s more difficult when you go to a dealership that mixes electric and ICE offerings. Worse than that, based on my disappointing experiences at Ford dealerships, the proprietors don’t always have it together in terms of positive customer experience. Service and support at Lincoln/Mercury dealers, however, was nearly equal to the deluxe treatment Lexus offers – even when I rolled up in my crappy old Town Car. Assuming they haven’t changed much from back then, you’d be happy to buy an upscale electric car in that environment.
Mercury Boutique 4 17
The reborn Mercury would have more electric offerings than just the Cougar, of course; they could even do versions of the expanded Mustang Mach-E lineup as I suggested a while back, renamed Torino. Or perhaps they could be sold as Mercury Montegos, or even Maruders? Who knows.
Ford Torino 4 14
Tornio Models 4 14

It’s Electric, Boogie Woogie Woogie

Numerous American car brands were laid to rest in the early 2000s, but some (see Hummer) are coming back, and perhaps the battery power will reactivate the brand power of more lost nameplates in the years ahead. The EV market is a tricky one, and automakers need to understand success in the segment requires rethinking not only the products but how and where they’re sold.  Mercury returning to the polished floors of Lincoln dealerships, revived and refreshed with electric power, seems a fitting way for Ford to grow its business in the challenging EV market. Besides, we’ve basically run out of cars for Mercury Mondays, and now I’m having to fabricate them. Isn’t that pathetic?

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Box Rocket
Box Rocket
29 days ago

The “New Edge” Mercury Cougar (RIP) was sold in Europe as the Ford Cougar. So the precedent for the name exists.

It also gives Ford a chance to introduce some additional models with a cat name theme. Like the Puma. And especially the Puma ST.

And, yes, Puma. Not Warthog. Not Chupathingycabra. (RIP Rooster Teeth).

Myk El
Myk El
29 days ago

Mercury should have been recycled into being the performance brand for FoMoCo.

Crab People
Crab People
1 month ago

Really missed an opportunity to propose Mercur-E as the line of electric vehicles from Ford.

29 days ago
Reply to  Crab People

Then they could revive Merkur and Mercury at the same time!

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
1 month ago

With that top pic I was confused why ford would use the (now dead) Camaro chassis, but then I remembered how Camaro-ish this generation of Mustang is at the rear half. Changing the front grille really emphasizes it

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
29 days ago
Reply to  Ecsta C3PO

Maybe a bit, but the camaro was originally a copycat Mustang. With them both using retro cues a bit of overlap isn’t unexpected.

1 month ago

What they call the Electric Mustang should have been called the Ford Galax-E

Last edited 1 month ago by Marathag
Mr E
Mr E
1 month ago

Ironically, I was just watching a video breaking down Al Stewart’s ‘Year of the Cat.’

Make it so!

BTW, Ford did make a one-off electric Mustang coupe (mit stick, strangely enough), so it IS possible to electrify the S550/650 chassis. Maybe.

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