1986 Cougar XR-7

The 1986 model year was a virtual carryover from the previous year.

Now in its fourth and final year of the first-generation aero Cougar, not much had been slated as far as updates, so the 1986 model year was a virtual carryover from the previous year. There were color changes inside and out, and the addition of a U.S. federally-mandated center high-mount stop lamp (CHMSL) in the rear window helped differentiate the 1986 models from the 1985s. The V6 and V8 models gained a larger 22.1 gallon fuel tank. Otherwise the car received very few other changes.



Cougar XR-7

Relatively few but significant changes were made to the XR-7 model in 1986. In a switch, the 5-speed manual transmission was now standard; the 3-speed automatic was optional. Exterior mirrors were now black instead of body color. Some new exterior colors added a little spice to the XR-7’s lineup, and no longer was grey the only interior color choice.


The 2.3L turbo-4 engine was again virtually untouched from the previous model year. Automatic-equipped cars were rated at 145hp while 5-speed cars had 155hp.


A slight visual change to 1986 XR-7 models is the addition of the large “TURBO” badge on the trunklid, with the “XR-7” now moved up from the taillight reflector next to the new “TURBO” badge. This seems to be a mid-to-late-model year running change.


A closer look at the lower stripes on the XR-7 model. There were a few more exterior color choices for the XR-7 for 1986, some of which have proven to be exceedingly difficult to find these days.


The previously-offered Oxford and Charcoal interior was no longer available for 1986. Instead, the base grey interior was a combination of a new medium warm grey called Smoke trimmed in a deep charcoal grey named Raven. The optional two-toned leather seats now blended in much better with the rest of the interior colors. And that wasn’t the only big news: the XR-7 could also be outfitted with Canyon Red or Desert Tan interiors. Those are considered rare cars today.


Cougar LS

The Cougar LS received no major updates in 1986.


The Cougar LS interior in Desert Tan cloth.


The Cougar LS interior in Smoke Grey leather.

The 3.8L V6 rated at 120 hp was still unchanged from its debut in 1984. A new option for the V6 was the AOD 4-speed automatic overdrive transmission.

Perhaps the biggest change in the drivetrain for 1986 was the upgrade of the 5.0L V8 to sequential electronic fuel injection (SEFI) adopted from the Mustang. The roller lifters were a running addition, making this the debut year for the Cougar roller block. The new parts and fuel injection resulted in an additional 20 hp, now up to 150, and greatly improved torque output. The Cougar/Thunderbird cam was ground for torque output at lower rpms—perfect for towing. Unfortunately, the Cougar/Thunderbird did not receive the same High Output (200 hp) treatment as the 1986 Mustang, nor did it get the performance dual exhaust. But at least the 5.0 became more modern. This was the only year for the SEFI 5.0L in this body style.

The LS interior in Smoke Grey vinyl.

Optional electronic cluster had a configurable left module with digital tachometer.

The electronic cluster’s right module had a built-in fuel computer with instantaneous economy.

1986 Cougar GS

Cougar GS

Like the LS model, the GS had no major alterations for 1986.


The GS interior, shown here in Regatta Blue cloth, remained the same as the previous year.


The GS interior in Sand Beige, shown with optional vent windows. Note the optional full console, which was a package with the individual bucket seats.

The US federally-mandated third brake lamp (CHMSL) was often the only visual difference between an ’85 and ’86 model.

The factory vinyl half-top roof was still a semi-popular option through 1986.

The base wheel for 1986 was a steel wheel with chrome ring and minimal center cap, similar to SSP Mustangs.

Power Moonroof Option

An exceedingly rare, late-year running addition was the factory power moonroof. Scheduled production was for March 3, 1986. While all indications are that moonroof-equipped cars were produced, it’s been extremely difficult to find a real specimen out in the world, since the cutoff date for ordering cars was usually around late May or early June of a particular model year. That left a window of mere weeks to order the power moonroof. It’s only been recently that we’ve corroborated the existence of such cars.

The Thunderbird shown below has all the correct gear for a power moonroof, so we will accept it as fact. This car in particular was produced in January 1986 as a test mule, then donated to a vocational school for mechanics to learn their trade. Unfortunately the car is not in good shape anymore but it does have the unique distinction of being the first documented 1986 moonroof car we’ve ever run across.

A 1985 issue of Motor Trend magazine speculated on the Cougar’s refresh for 1986. Although reality was quite different, the spirit of the article was true for its time: Ford really was planning to refresh the Cougar and Thunderbird for the 1986 model year. But delays in the next-generation platform, code-named MN12, pushed back the big Cat’s refresh to 1987. Therefore the 1986 cars were sort of filling in the gap. Ironically, it turned out to be one of the most successful sales years in all of the Cougar’s history.


Sales jumped up again for 1986, thanks to the additional V8 power, and things were definitely in full swing for the aero Cougar and Ford in general. Because of cars like the first generation aero-look Cougar, Ford now had a solid foundation for its new rounded styling and the American buying public flocked to the new shapes in droves. As pleasing as the results were, Ford wasn’t exactly sitting still. For the next two model years the Fox-based Cougar would receive a mild freshening, further pushing the envelope of its aerodynamically-formed shape, and modernizing the car even more. But for 1986, the raw lines of the Cougar remained the style leader.

  • TURBO badge on XR-7 trunklids
  • Steel wheels (only year for this option)
  • Smoke interior color (only year in this body style)
  • Taupe interior color (only year in this body style)
  • Midnight Wine exterior color (one year only)
  • Regatta Blue Metallic exterior color (light blues were unique to each model year)

Tech Specs



GS: 120 hp CFI 3.8L (232 cid) V6; optional 150 hp SEFI 5.0L (302 cid) V8
LS: 120 hp CFI 3.8L (232 cid) V6; optional 150 hp SEFI 5.0L (302 cid) V8
XR-7: MPI OHC turbocharged 2.3L (140 cid) I-4; 145 hp (automatic) / 155 hp (manual)
3-speed automatic (C3) – XR-7 only, optional
5-speed manual (T-5) – XR-7 only, standard
3-speed automatic (C5) – V6 models, standard
4-speed overdrive automatic (AOD) – all V8 models, optional on V6 models
Front: 10.0″ vented disc
Rear: 9.0″ drum
Wheelbase: 104.0″
Overall Length: 197.6″
Overall Width: 71.1″
Overall Height: 53.4″
Cargo Capacity: 14.6 cubic feet w/mini spare; 13.2 cubic feet with full spare
Fuel Capacity: 22.1 gallons (GS & LS); 19.0 gallons (XR-7)
Passenger Rating: 5 (4 with full console option)
GS: 3,083 lbs.
XR-7: 3,169 lbs.
1986 Cougars had flat taillights, new interior, new-style grille, and a third brake light in rear window.
Cougar XR-7 4-140 2.3L SOHC Turbo Safety Recalls
1. 87S36 SEP 87 Recall 87S36 Fuel Line Retainer Clips
Cougar XR-7 4-140 2.3L SOHC Turbo Emissions Recalls
1. 93E45 SEP 94 Recall 93E45 – Catalyst Replacement
V6-232 3.8L Emissions Recalls
1. 91E14 MAY 92 Recall 91E14 Catalyst Inspection/Replacement – 49 States
2. 91E03 JAN 92 Catalyst Inspection/Replacement Emissions Recall 91E03
3. 90E88 SEP 90 Recall 9OE88 Catalyst Replacement, 49 State
4. 89E83 DEC 89 Recall 89E83, Emissions Control Modifications
5. 89E77 AUG 89 Emissions Recall 89E77 Emission System Modifications
6. 88E73 APR 89 Recall 88E73 CAT Convertor and Y-Pipe Replacement
V6-232 3.8L General Recalls
1. M56 FEB 88 Heater and Engine Bypass Hose Replacement – Program M56
V8-302 5.0L Safety Recalls
1. 87S36 SEP 87 Recall 87S36 Fuel Line Retainer Clips
V8-302 5.0L Emissions Recalls
1. 89E79 DEC 89 Recall 89E79, Emission Control System Modifications

Production Breakdown

TOTAL: 135,904

Note: 17.7% of 1986 Cougars had the V8/AOD drivetrain.

We will post additional breakdown figures when we get them.

1986 Cougar XR-7

1986 Cougar Wheels


Left to right: Performance 15″ aluminum wheel; TRX 390mm aluminum wheel; 14″ locking wire wheel cover; 14″ polycast road wheel; 14″ luxury wheel cover; 14″ 5-spoke wheel cover, 14″ styled steel wheel.



NOTE: S=standard, O=optional


3.8L V6 engine with electronic central fuel injection (CFI) S S
2.3L EFI 4-cylinder turbocharged engine S
Electronic fuel-injected 5.0 liter V8 SEFI engine with automatic overdrive transmission O O
Five-speed manual transmission with floor mounted shifter in leather wrap S
Automatic three-speed transmission with locking torque converter S S O
Variable-ratio power rack-and-pinion steering S S
Power rack-and-pinion steering with 15:1 non-variable ratio for increased power steering effort and road feel S
Power brakes (front disc, rear drum) S S S
Disc brake audible wear sensors (front only) S S S
P205/70R14 WSW all-season steel-belted radial tires S S
P225/60VR15 BSW Goodyear Eagle VR60 tires on 15″x7″ cast aluminum wheels S
Four-bar link coil spring rear suspension with Nitra-cushion front struts and rear shocks S S S
Hybrid MacPherson strut front suspension with stabilizer bar S S S
Handling suspension with Quadra-shock rear suspension O O S
18.2-gallon fuel tank S
22.1-gallon fuel tank S S
Dual braking system with brake failure warning light S S S
Dual rectangular halogen headlamps S S S
Lower bodyside protection S S S
High-mount rear stoplamp S S S
60/40 cloth front twin comfort seats with consolette S S
Full console O O S
Luxury cloth seats O S
Functional sport seats S
Luxury door trim and quarter panel S S
Three passenger rear seating S S
Four-way front headrest O S
Rear seat with integral headrests and center fold-down armrest O S S
Side window demisters S S S
A-frame steering wheel with center hub horn control S S S
AM/FM stereo radio with 4 speakers (could be deleted for credit) S S S
Steering column-mounted controls for wiper/washer, high/low headlamp beam, and turn signal S S S
Full, soft door trim panels with door pull straps, door map pockets and carpeted lower portion S S S
16-oz floor carpeting S
24-oz carpeting S S
Passenger side vanity mirror S
Rear compartment courtesy lights S
2-spoke sport steering wheel S
LCD digital speedometer / odometer readout S S
Full analog instrumentation with tachometer and boost gauge S
Warning chimes S S S
Woodgrain instrument panel appliqués S S
Bodyside accent stripes S S
Lower body accent stripe S
Left-hand remote control mirror (bright) S
Dual power remote-control mirrors O S
Dual power remote-control mirrors, body color S
Front air dam with fog lights S
Vertical bar grille with bright surround molding S S S
Deluxe wheel covers S S
Bright accent moldings S S
Power windows O S S
Tinted glass O S S
Lower bodyside molding with black vinyl insert S S
Wide vinyl bodyside molding S
Luggage compartment light S S S
Bright rocker panel molding O S
Bright wheel covers O S
Hood accent stripes O S O
Electroluminescent coach lamps O S
Air conditioning, manual control O O O
Air conditioning, automatic control O O O
Traction-Lok axle O O S
Heavy duty battery O O S
Front license plate bracket O O O
Electronic digital clock O O S
Front cornering lamps O O O
Electric rear window defroster O O O
Illuminated entry system O O O
Front carpeted floor mats O O O
Dual illuminated visor vanity mirrors O O O
Dual power remote-control mirrors O S S
Automatic dim day/night rearview mirror O O O
Automatic parking brake release O O
Clearcoat metallic paint O O S
Two-tone paint O O
Half-vinyl roof O O
Flip up open air sunroof O O O
Fingertip speed control O O O
Leather wrapped steering wheel (require speed control) O O O
Tilt steering wheel O O O
Hood accent stripes O S
Vent windows (require tinted glass and dual electric mirrors) O O O
Interval windshield wipers O O O
Power antenna O O O
6-way power driver’s seat O O O
6-way dual power seats O O O
Power moonroof (Late availability)*
Production began approximately March 3, 1986. Very few examples have been found.
BSW = black sidewall; WSW = white sidewall
P215/70R14 WSW S S
P215/70R14 BSW O O
P215/70HR14 BSW O O
220/55HR390 BSW O O
P225/60VR15 BSW S
Performance 15″ aluminum wheels S
TRX-type aluminum wheels O O
Polycast 14″ road wheels O O
Wire locking wheel covers O O
Luxury wheel covers S
Styled steel wheels O S
Electronic AM/FM stereo search with cassette O O O
Premium sound system O O O
Graphic equalizer with Premium sound system O O O
Warning lights for the following: check oil, low fuel, low washer fluid, low beam out, taillamps out, door ajar, brake lamp out
Includes digital speedometer, graphic display tachometer, oil pressure and temperature gauges, voltmeter, and Tripminder computer
Includes auto-lamp on/off delay system and autmatic headlamp dimmer
Includes engine compartment light, dual-beam dome/map light and instrument panel courtesy lights
Includes power door locks and power decklid release
Includes illuminated entry system. Requires power lock group
1986 Cougar XR-7

Exterior Colors

All information about your interior and exterior colors can be found on the vehicle certification label, located inside the driver’s door jamb. For the exterior colors listed below, the paint code is also listed next to each color.

NOTE: Colors are an approximate representation. Due to differences in screen types and settings, true accurate color representation is not possible.


Standard Exterior Colors
1C / Black
9L / Oxford White
3U / Midnight Regatta Blue
2E / Light Canyon Red
8L / Sand Beige
81 / Dark Clove Brown

* There have been verified instances of code 1R, which is Black Clearcoat normally reserved for Lincolns. There is currently no published evidence that 1R was officially offered for the Cougar during this model year, even though real-world examples do exist.

Clearcoat Exterior Colors
1F / Smoke Metallic
1Q / Silver Metallic
2M / Medium Canyon Red Metallic
2Y / Midnight Wine
7C / Deep Shadow Blue Metallic
8M / Sand Beige Metallic
3W / Regatta Blue Metallic
5E / Light Taupe Metallic
Tu-Tone Exterior Colors
1C Black / 1F Smoke Metallic
1Q Silver Metallic / 1F Smoke Metallic
2Y Midnight Wine / 5E Light Taupe Metallic
XR-7 Two-Tone Exterior Colors
1C Black / 7Z Dark Charcoal
9L Oxford White / 7Y Argent
1Q Silver Metallic / 7Z Dark Charcoal
1F Smoke Metallic / 7Y Argent
2M Medium Canyon Red Metallic / 7Z Dark Charcoal
3W Regatta Blue Metallic / 7Z Dark Charcoal
8M Sand Beige Metallic / 7Z Dark Charcoal
7C Deep Shadow Blue Metallic / 7Z Dark Charcoal


Interior Seating and Door Panels

Cougar GS
Standard Twin Comfort Lounge Seats in Smoke Cloth

Cougar GS
Optional Individual Seats in Canyon Red Cloth

Cougar GS
Optional Twin Comfort Lounge Seats in Taupe Vinyl

Cougar LS
Standard Twin Comfort Lounge Seats in Regatta Blue Cloth

Cougar XR-7
Standard Functional Sport Seats in Smoke Cloth

Interior Color and Trim Availability

This is a two-character code on the vehicle certification label. The first character is the material and seat type; the second character is the color.