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
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“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
Bonhams
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
Ford
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
Ford
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)
Ford
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)
Stellantis
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
Ford
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
Ford
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
Ford

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
Ford
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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Chartreuse Bison
Chartreuse Bison
1 month ago

Calling a crossover a mustang is a much worse insult than making an EV muscle car. The can have Mach-E, but it should just be “Ford Mach-E” It can even keep the taillights, but it doesn’t deserve the pony

And honestly the nameplate should just die when they can’t make it ICE anymore. Same with the charger and camaro. They exist to make big V-8 noises. Call your electric sports car something else.

Last edited 1 month ago by Chartreuse Bison
Gene1969
Gene1969
1 month ago

I like it! Great job!

Acid Tonic
Acid Tonic
1 month ago

I honestly think the styling of the last cougar was rather unique and still looks good.

Andrew Vance
Andrew Vance
1 month ago

Maybe a Capri??

Stop Making Us Register To Comment
Stop Making Us Register To Comment
1 month ago

That nee Cougar looks a million times better than the new Mustang…Ford make it….and I am not some Boomer, I am 29….and have owned both a 2014 and a 2000 Mustang…..in that order….but please offer a gasoline powered version with a manual transmission, not interested if it does not have both of those.

Last edited 1 month ago by Stop Making Us Register To Comment
Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
1 month ago

My god I had not seen your ‘e-Torino’ photoshop before. I’m going to have nightmares in my sleep now.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 month ago

Or…hear me out here: they could finally make an electric Mustang.

(The Mach-E—a car we all just call “Mach-E” anyway!—isn’t it.)

Greensoul
Greensoul
1 month ago

Did love my Cougars, though. The cars, not the old women that tried stuff….did they not se the flag???

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago
Reply to  Greensoul

Are you kidding? It was the 70’s.

“Cougars” were the customer base for these cars just like antisocial jerk attention-whore manchild is the core market for Dodge Chargers today.

Greensoul
Greensoul
1 month ago

Love it. Remember when the now departed Camaro made a come back and folks were proposing Pontic Trans Am versions based off of it? I have always loved Cougars. Had a 74, 77, 78, 79, 81, 84, 86, 1990, 1993, 97, and 2000 model at one time or another in my life. Loved every last one of them. My car friend’s would say I must love the kitty cat, and then I would whip out my pride flag…….

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago
Reply to  Greensoul

I thought that flag also ment “maybe, sometimes” too.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago

Even Mellencamp Dropped The Cougar”
I liked him better before he dropped the Cougar from his name.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
1 month ago

My SIL called him “John Cougar Menstrual Cramp.”

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 month ago

This is sort of a logical extension of Ford’s desperate attempts to reorient the Mercury brand in the 2000s – first they tried to reposition it to appeal to women, with a specific focus on professional, career-types; then they proposed using it as an outlet to sell European Fords in North America (which died with the One Ford concept); then, the last proposal, right before the brand was axed, was to turn Mercury into an all-hybrid brand, selling vaguely upscale eco-cars. Had that last proposal been implemented, an EV Cougar would have been the logical next step 10-15 years later.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 month ago

My long-gone mullet threatened to re-sprout when I saw the Torino Sport Coupe 🙂
You’ve presented a good argument, and I quite like the renders. I’d say I would buy one, but, let’s be honest; it wouldn’t be until it was 10 years old and on its 3rd owner

Spyrius Robot
Spyrius Robot
1 month ago

Ah yes, the ThunderCougarFalconBird.

Tim Cougar
Tim Cougar
1 month ago

You have my attention.

If they made a Mercury version of the F-150 Lightning would it be the ThunderCat?

Geekycop .
Geekycop .
1 month ago
Reply to  Tim Cougar

It would have to only be available in Canada.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
1 month ago

Heeey Bishop, great work here….also you should check out my comment on Thomas’ article about the Fiata and maybe do an Alfa Romeo version of the ND/Fiata. K, thanks bye!!

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
1 month ago

If Hemmels can convert Pagoda SLs to electric, if the SLShop and Monceau can convert R107’s to electric – and Maserati can convert the Gran Cabrio to EV – then Ford can surely convert the Mustang platform to electric.

Bear in mind tho that the Cougars from 1967-70 had @2″ longer wheelbases than the concurrent Mustangs – I don’t recall if the 71-73 Cougars rode on longer wheelbases too.

There were actually 3 identical XR7 Ram-Air CobraJet Cougars ordered up from Dearborn and shipped to Europe for the Bond film. Two of which were completely demolished, tho I believe I read that one of those was restored?

It would not be that difficult to weld a notchback steel roof onto to the convertible body, and trim it out appropriately. I seem to recall that Bentley essentially did that to create the Brooklands from the Azure.

I’d much prefer the razor grille tho – and a much revised interior, with wood (“The Original Carbon Fiber”) and leather/plastics/carpets that are actually of a color or two.

And I’d make the Cougar a Lincoln.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
1 month ago
Reply to  The Bishop

I had the feeling that it was that one.
Isn’t there another one in a museum collection someplace in Europe?

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
1 month ago

Not that I don’t like this, I do like it! But an alternative would be to make the Mercury version of the Mach-e the Cougar and call the EV Mustang coupe a Capri. Then use either the 70’s Euro Capri or the Fox-based mid 80’s Capri as the design inspiration.

The Bishop
The Bishop
1 month ago

That’s a great idea!

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
1 month ago

Always loved the Capri!

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
1 month ago

I like your vector vicar, er sorry- Bishop (maybe-Your Vectorness?).
The gauntlet has clearly been thrown, and must not be ignored!

The Bishop
The Bishop
1 month ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

Indeed- what’s the point of one electric muscle car if there’s no competitor for it to battle?

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 month ago

We need more electric convertibles!

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 month ago
Reply to  The Bishop

I looked into buying one and importing it. Sadly federalization is stupid, literally the drivetrain is US approved, and the convertible chassis is US approved, and replacing the various lighting bits with US approved ones is cheap and easy, but that’s not enough to federalize it.

I could have still used it under show and display, but you’re limited to like 1000 miles a year, which I would have easily gone over,

JKcycletramp
JKcycletramp
1 month ago
Reply to  MrLM002

As soon as the Model S dropped, I started hoping Ford would answer with a full size convertible EV called Galaxie.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
1 month ago

I’ve had a similar thought for a while but I am quite artistically challenged so these renders are amazing to me! Cougar should have been a four-door Mustang and test bed for new technologies (3.5 EB instead of a v8 for example). If Ford was smart they’d make a coupe, convertible AND sedan to rival the new Charger and the public would eat it up

Dennis Frederickson
Dennis Frederickson
1 month ago

I believe I commented year ago on this site that the Lincoln name should be abandoned as dead presidents (or live presidents, or any politician for that matter) are no longer looked upon as positive role models in society or aspirational figures, particularly for the younger generation. (I hasten to add I am not in any way sullying the great Abraham Lincoln but times have changed.) Ford has a wonderful name from the past that they have used off and on over the decades for various models on several continents (again, as mentioned previously) that would be an ideal substitute for Lincoln or a full EV offshoot as suggested in this article and that brand could be FUTURA.

MAX FRESH OFF
MAX FRESH OFF
1 month ago

Ford lost the rights to use Futura, after they stopped using the name Pep Boys started using it for tires. Ford sued and lost.

Dennis Frederickson
Dennis Frederickson
1 month ago
Reply to  MAX FRESH OFF

Yes, and I see they lost that right in the USA twenty years ago. Futura was used in Australia until 2008. I am humbled. Apparently I don’t get out much.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

Aah Bishop I have to say this is my favorite idea of all the ones you have submitted. Of course I always preferred the Cougar to the mustang. I didn’t see it mentioned but I hope you kept the taillights, those traveling blinkers were great with the flip up headlights. I suggest calling it the Mercury Cougar under the Ford brand. Use the Roman God Mercury as a spokes icon. The most clever of the Olympian Gods, he was the winged messenger of the gods, he ruled over wealth, commerce, good fortune, fertility and trickery
I see Joe Isuzu in a toga traveling on and throwing lightening bolts. You design leave the marketing to me.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mr Sarcastic
StillNotATony
StillNotATony
1 month ago

As long as it does not also mimic the new Charger’s FIVE THOUSAND, EIGHT HUNDRED AND THIRTY-EIGHT POUND curb weight, I approve of this concept!

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
1 month ago

As soon as I saw Torino, I was hoping for the Starsky and Hutch paint.

The Bishop delivers.

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
1 month ago

“…the first use of sequential turn signals…”

I thought the 1964-66 Thunderbird used them.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 month ago
Reply to  The Bishop

Small caveat: the sequential signal lights were developed for the ‘64 T-Bird, but were actually introduced on the ‘65 because Ford had to wait until all 50 states approved this innovation before they sent it out into the world.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

Yeah comparing apple seeds to my moms apple dumplings. My mom’s dumplings and the Cougars taillights were far superior.

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