The Mercury Cougar was always found in the shadow of its more famous Ford sibling, the Mustang, but the Cougar managed to carve out its own identity over the years.

Cougars were a notch above the Mustang and other pony cars in terms of overall luxury, mainly because of its Mercury lineage.

Jim Sutherland

The first-generation Cougar was built to offer a blend of comfort, style and sportiness in a smaller package than conventional Mercury models sold during the late 1960s. The Cougar XR7 is a good example of Mercury’s desire to combine the best of the pony car with the luxury of a typical Mercury model.

However, Mercury upped the ante on the performance angle when it built the Cougar Eliminator model to compete in the factory muscle car wars during the late 1960s.

Sylvio Richard is the proud owner of a 1969 Mercury Cougar XRZ that he modified to reflect the best features of the limited-edition Mercury Cougar Eliminator. The project took place over several years because Sylvio worked in the oil industry and had little spare time to dedicate to the process.

Sylvio told MyStarCollectorCar he worked very long hours and simply could not find the time to complete the Cougar project. The good news is Sylvio was able to approach the project with a careful game plan for his Cougar.

He wanted to add more comfort, style and performance into the mix and we at MyStarCollectorCar believe he accomplished his goals.

For example, Sylvio replaced the Cougar’s original steering column with a tilt/tilt-away steering column donated by another Cougar. The tilt-away steering column was a unique feature that allowed the driver to move the entire column sideways toward the center of the car to allow easier exits and entries into the vehicle.

Sylvio’s ’69 Cougar includes a 351 Cleveland small block engine connected to a new Ford automatic overdrive transmission that gives the car snappy performance out of the chute and lower RPMs at highway speeds, given the Cougar’s 3:89 gear ratio.

Sylvio added the Eliminator touches when he installed a front air dam, hood scoop, and rear spoiler to his ’69 Cougar, features that really pop on the car. He blacked out the car’s front grille to contrast with the Cougar’s bold paint scheme.

He also added black mags with chrome beauty rings to contrast with the bright paint job. The net result is a car that embraces the best features of a muscle car built during the late 1960s. Sylvio told MyStarCollectorCar his car is very comfortable at 70 mph (roughly 112 km/h), a fact that reflects its upscale Mercury heritage.

Sylvio’s custom ’69 Cougar has power steering, power brakes, and air conditioning to add an extra layer to its comfort factor on the road. He also replaced the car’s front seats with high buckets embossed with Cougar symbols to celebrate the car’s heritage.

As mentioned, the ’69 Cougar build process took many years, given Sylvio’s heavy work schedule and the fact it was a “nut and bolt frame-off restoration”, in his words. 

It was also painted in Sylvio’s garage and the result is a stunningly smooth paint job.

These days Sylvio and his wife grab any opportunity to hit the road in their very cool 1969 Mercury Cougar XR7, the one with custom Eliminator overtones.       

Jim Sutherland

BY: Jim Sutherland

Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.