1968 Cougar XR7-G Option
The XR7-G project was assigned to Shelby Automotive. By 1968, Carroll Shelby was losing control of this operation, partly because he had lost his lease on the Shelby production facilities on LAX airport property in Los Angeles, California. Because of this, 1968 Shelby Mustang production was moved to the A.O. Smith factory in the suburban Detroit, Michigan area. A.O. Smith was the fabricator of Corvette fiberglass bodies from 1953 until 1966 under contract to GM, and the firm was happy to get the work since GM had taken the Corvette body contract in-house.
Somehow it was decided to build a Cougar with a performance orientation similar to the Shelby Mustangs. Dan Gurney has maintained in interviews over the years that he had nothing to do with the XR7-G other than posing for advertisements. Carroll Shelby was on the board of directors of Shelby Automotive and was involved in the day to day decisions to some degree.
The XR7-G was Mercury’s equivalent to a Shelby Mustang. Like the Shelby Mustang, vehicles were delivered to the A.O. Smith facility in groups for conversion. A.O. Smith fabricated the fiberglass hood scoops in-house. Many other parts were out-sourced. The original concept of the G included aluminum “Rader” wheels made by Trans American Products, an after market wheel manufacturer. The emblems on the steering wheel, trunk latch, headlight cover, and roof pillars were sourced from ASCO (not to be confused with ASC). Fog lamps were made by Lucas or Marchal. The outside rear view mirror was made by Talbot.
Because all XR7-G consoles have a sunroof switch it could be assumed that all cars were originally intended to have a sunroof, however internal Shelby documents show us that there were cars ordered both with and without sunroofs. In any case, most XR7-Gs were shipped to another Detroit area contractor for sunroof installation. The American Sunroof Corporation (ASC) was started by a pair of German immigrants who had previously worked in Germany installing sunroofs. Heinz Prechter and Werner Miess were the first two employees of the company.
According to Mr. Miess, finished XR7-Gs arrived at the company on rail cars along with standard Cougars. The headliners were carefully removed and sunroof assemblies made by Bosch were welded in place. The original headliner was unstitched at the rear bow and then new material sewn in to make a single panel for the sunroof area. Some XR7-Gs also received a separate fiberglass access panel to cover the mechanism at the front. After the sunroofs were installed a vinyl top was applied. Finished cars went back to FoMoCo for distribution through regular channels.
In 1968, famous race car driver, Dan Gurney, signed with Lincoln-Mercury to promote cars that year and this special Cougar became Lincoln-Mercury’s way of celebrating the contract. Although not a Dan Gurney Special – which is a completely different car – the G did stand for “Gurney”.
The XR7-G hit the showrooms in March of 1968. The only promotions were a full-page ad in the April 26, 1968, issue of Life magazine and a commercial ad for the power operated sunroof.
The 1968 Mercury Cougar XR7-G Option package was based on the XR-7 with certain equipment added to or in place of the XR-7 equipment. The price of the XR7-G Option package was $823.35, which included the price of required items: Power Steering and AM Radio with Antenna. This was added to the $3,231.91 price of the basic XR-7 for a total of $4,055.26.
There were 622 XR7-Gs produced, of which 188 were Hertz cars and 434 were non-Hertz. All 188 Hertz cars had sunroofs and 252 non-Hertz cars also had sunroofs for a total of 440 with sunroofs. The remaining 182 XR7-G cars did not have sunroofs.
The XR7-G could be ordered with any 1968 engine available, except the 289 and 427. Fourteen XR7-Gs came with the R-Code 428 Cobra Jet engine, which also included the black functional hood scoop and black hood stripe.
The special features included:
- Lucas fog lamps
- Unique hood-locking pins and lanyards
- A fiberglass, simulated air scoop
- A bullet-shaped, racing-type rear view mirror from Talbot shipped in from England
- GT exhaust extensions – a pipe-in-a-pipe chrome tips
- Special XR7-G lower front and rear valances
- Unique XR7-G emblems on the pillars, trunk latch, head light door, dash, and wheel center caps
- The spider-webbed wheels which were also known as “Rader Wheels”. Lincoln-Mercury later recalled the Rader Wheels, replacing all XR7-Gs with the five-spoke style steel wheels.
- Lastly, all XR7-G’s had unique consoles with Shelby-type shifter handles, different than all other Cougars.
|6||302 2V (Low Compresssion export)|
The G’s with engine code 6 are within a few units of each other in the 8F936572XXX range and have six digit DSO’s and locking differentials.
Code Transmission Availability
|1||3-Spd Manual||Std with all except 390 4V|
|1||3-Spd Manual (Heavy-Duty)||Std with 390 4V|
|5||4-Spd Manual (Wide-Ratio)||Opt with all except 427 4V & 390 2V|
|6||4-Spd Manual (Close-Ratio)||Opt with 390 4V|
|U||C6 3-Spd Automatic (Normal-Duty)||Opt with 390 2V|
|U||C6 3-Spd Automatic (Heavy-Duty)||Std w/ 427 4V & 428 4V, Opt w/ 390 4V|
|W||C4 3-Spd Automatic||Opt. w/ 289 2V & 302 2v & 4V|
|First Year||Second Year|
Interior Colors & Material
|6A||XR-7||Charcoal Black Levant Grain Vinyl & Charcoal Black Leather|
|6B||XR-7||Dark Blue Levant Grain Vinyl & Dark Blue Leather|
|6D||XR-7||Dark Red Levant Grain Vinyl & Dark Red Leather|
|6F||XR-7||Medium Saddle Levant Grain Vinyl & Medium Saddle Leather|
|6G||XR-7||Dark Ivy Gold Levant Grain Vinyl & Dark Ivy Gold Leather|
|6K||XR-7||Light Aqua Levant Grain Vinyl & Light Aqua Leather|
|6U||XR-7||Pastel Parchment Levant Grain Vinyl & Pastel Parchment Leather with Black|
|6Y||XR-7||Light Nugget Gold Levant Grain Vinyl & Light Nugget Gold Leather|
|8A||XR-7||XR-7 Charcoal Black Crinkle Vinyl & Charcoal Black Clarion Knitted Vinyl|
|8B||XR-7||Dark Blue Crinkle Vinyl & Dark Blue Clarion Knitted Vinyl|
|8D||XR-7||Dark Red Crinkle Vinyl & Dark Red Clarion Knitted Vinyl|
|8F||XR-7||Medium Saddle Crinkle Vinyl & Medium Saddle Clarion Knitted Vinyl|
Choice of 16 Exterior Paint Colors
|Paint Code||Ditzler #||Paint Colors|
|D||13357||Nordic Blue Poly.|
|F||13329||Madras Blue Poly.|
|I||43576||Lime Frost Poly.|
|O||43529||Sea Form Green|
|Q||13619||Glacier Blue Poly.|
|R||43644||Augusta Green Poly.|
|U||12745||Caribbean Blue Poly.|
|X||13356||Wellington Blue Poly.|
|Y||22833||Grecian Gold Poly.|
Several XR7-G’s were ordered with special colors resulting in a 6 digit DSO code and blank color code on the door tag.Known special order colors so far are Dusk Rose (AKA Playboy Pink) and Calypso Coral Poly (Orange).
|15||New York||84||Home Office Reserve|
|17||Washington DC||A1||Central Canada|
|42||St. Louis||B6||Western Canada|
|46||Twin Cities||B7||Pacific Canada|
|52||Los Angeles||13||Export Canada|