1987 Mercury Cougar LS

Building upon the previous Cougar’s aero look, Ford gave the big Cat a major overhaul for 1987. The same basic shape and chassis remained but with much more refinement. Most noticeable was the graceful new aerodynamic front end, with flush headlights and turn signal/side markers better filling out the front. The waterfall-type grille was resurrected, and for the first time in quite a while, a Cougar had no hood ornament—the cat head crest now resided in the center of the grille. The front bumper gently rounded down to a much-lower air dam, with a chin cut-out for the grille. All-around flush glass helped cut down on wind noise and give a finished look. The roofline was made slightly longer, and with the highest point just behind the windshield, to help with aerodynamics. The Cougar’s drag coefficient dropped from .40 to .36 as a result.

The 1987 Mercury Cougar was now down to only 2 models: the luxury-oriented LS and the sporty XR-7.

The Cougar’s formal—and controversial—backlight remained, but with a new twist: the back glass now had a double curve, which was very difficult to produce without major optical distortion. The side quarter glass now swept back even more, to inversely match the angle of the door windows. The trunk and rear areas had totally different shapes now, with a higher shoulder and more defined trunk edge. With its more squared-off stance, the Cougar now had a very proportioned shape, visually smoothing out the slight rear awkwardness of the previous car. The new taillights wrapped around further into the rear quarters; integrated reflectors gave a vertical bar look at night. The cat head once again was the backup light, similar to 1983-84 models. C-pillar emblems were slightly smaller now, and the body side molding was now wide between the wheel wells. New rubber splitters surrounded the outside mirrors to help cut down on wind intrusion, and additional weatherstripping inside the doors also helped keep the Cat quiet.

Above: The 1986 Cougar XR-7 on the left, and the new 1987 Cougar XR-7 on the right.

Structurally, the trunk pan was slightly modified to allow the mini-spare tire to sit in a small well on the driver’s side of the trunk. Otherwise, minor bracing was added underneath. The suspension was revised slightly, adding front A-arms borrowed from the rear-drive Lincoln Continental that allowed for a bit more suspension travel. This resulted in a .3″ stretch in the wheelbase (now officially at 104.2″). Spring rates and shocks/struts were also revised for crisper handling. The interior was virtually carried over with the same seating, dash and instrumentation, but new sail panels, molded headliner, door panels and package tray carpeting were ordered. And finally, after several years of promises, Ford finally delivered: the hood received new counterbalanced hinges, meaning the prop rod was gone for good.

For the first time since 1983, the Cougar was now down to only 2 models: the luxury-oriented LS and the sporty XR-7. Marketing again showed that the base GS model was maybe too low-end for the demographics of Cougar buyers, so it was dropped altogether for 1987. Ford continued to market Cougars this way for the next 5 model years.

The only down side to this freshening was a little added weight. Ford graciously addressed some of the NVH issues from the previous body style, and also beefed up the suspension in needed areas, but at the expense of extra heft. A basic LS model with the V6 was still under 3200 lbs. but the V8-powered base XR-7 pushed to nearly 3400 lbs., and either model could easily top 3700 lbs. with all options ordered. The good news is that Ford kept an eye on the weight and made sure that this version of the Cat would not become as portly as some models of the decade before.



1987 Mercury Cougar XR-7

Cougar XR-7

The big news for the 1987 Cougar XR-7 was that Ford dropped the previously-offered turbocharged 4-cylinder in favor of the standard output 150hp SEFI 5.0L V8 (which was optional on the LS model as well). Marketing reports suggested that the turbo-4 was not really in keeping with the Cougar’s image or heritage, and the slightly underwhelming torque and performance from that motor in the previous XR-7 was a testimony to the reports. The added torque of the V8 was a welcome addition to the rather portly XR-7 model, even though total horsepower was about the same as the 4-cylinder engine.

The added torque of the V8 was a welcome addition to the XR-7 model.

Also gone was the 5-speed manual transmission, as once again Ford felt that an automatic transmission better fit the image that buyers expected. The standard and only transmission was the 4-speed AOD overdrive transmission.

Out back, the 7.5″ rear axle with Traction-Lok and quad shocks remained standard on the Cougar XR-7. The suspension was essentially a heavy-duty rated version found under the LS, but with higher spring rates.

Visually the XR-7 was set apart from the LS by blacked-out window trim, black door handles, and XR-7 badging on the C-pillars. The XR-7 also had grey lower accents with tri-band striping, similar to previous XR-7 models. A surprising number of exterior colors were available on the XR-7 for this model year.


The rear three-quarter view of the Cougar was now better proportioned, with a slightly more squared-off look and slim, wraparound taillamps that evoked Cougars of old.


The 1987 Cougar XR-7’s interior was very similar to the previous years. Unlike previous XR-7s, though, the door panels were not of the “high series” variety but identical to those found in the LS. It’s unknown why this happened; perhaps it was to save money or complexity or weight. Shown here is an XR-7 with Smoke and Raven leather seats.


The 1987 Cougar XR-7 had a full electronic instrument cluster as standard equipment, with no option for the previously-offered analog cluster. Apparently Ford felt that full digital gauges meant that a car was fully loaded, which is typically what an XR-7 buyer wanted, so the analog cluster took a one-year hiatus. The full electronic cluster was still an option on the LS.


In addition to Smoke, the XR-7’s interior was available in Scarlet, Shadow Blue and, shown below, Sand Beige.

Cougar LS

The Cougar LS was plenty of car for the money and was a great value at any level.

The Cougar LS was essentially now the base Cougar model, with a prime focus upon luxury. Truth be told, it wasn’t as luxurious as the previous LS models in a lot of respects. In moving to the new body in 1987 there was plenty of cost-cutting involved at Ford. Thinner carpeting, lack of a “high series” door panel, and a less expensive (but also less reliable) way of attaching the door glass to the lift mechanism are just a few areas where corners seem to have been cut. Still, compared to its domestic and foreign competition, the LS was plenty of car for the money and was a great value at any level.

The drivetrain on the Cougar LS was pretty much carried over from the previous model year. Engine choices were the 120hp 3.8L V6, or the 150hp 5.0L V8. The only transmission was now the AOD 4-speed automatic with overdrive. The suspension received springs with higher spring rates to help eliminate the rear sag problem that plagued previous Fox Cougars.


The updated LS interior, shown here in Scarlet cloth, featured the standard consolette, as it did the previous two model years, although the full console was still an option.


This LS is equipped with the full console and floor shifter option. Note that in order to get this combination, the individual sport seats had to be ordered—the floor shifter and console were not regular production options, but rather a seating choice, which is definitely odd in this day and age.


A closer look at the all-new door standard door panel in Smoke Grey. Cloth interior cars got the matching soft cloth door inserts shown here, while leather-equipped cars had an all-vinyl door panel.


The base instrument cluster soldiered on in the new 1987 interior. The new 2-spoke (non-sport) steering wheel replaced the A-frame wheel of previous years. This steering wheel was taken directly from the 1985 Mercury Capri, center horn button and all.

The standard 3.8L V6 carried on with no changes from the previous few model years. Horsepower remained at 120.

The optional 5.0L V8 (standard in XR-7) was also identical to the previous model year, with 150hp.

The new backlite was again a source of some discussion, but this time the roof rounded into the glass for a smoother look.

The new aero front end featured flush lites, with cat’s-eye inner and outer markers, and a single high/low beam flush headlamp.

The new grille was still a signature Mercury waterfall, only with a growling cat head in the center, replacing the older hood ornament altogether.

Wraparound, thinner taillights were a welcome surprise, along with the cat head backup lamps.

Full rear view of a 1987 Cougar LS.

20th Anniversary Cougar

Since 1987 marked the 20th anniversary of the Cougar’s introduction, Ford produced a special Cougar model to commemorate the occasion. Midway through the model year a special 20th Anniversary Cougar model was added, featuring a Cabernet Red exterior with gold badging and gold 15″ wheels. For more information about this model, please see the dedicated 20th Anniversary section.


The new, refined look for the aero Cougar proved that Ford could successfully build upon a great car and produce another winner. Its profile now suggested a more mature Cat, with its muscular stance and squared-off flank. Meanwhile, rumors kept circulating about an all new Cougar, possibly front-drive, but with an independent rear suspension. This turned out to be only half-true: the IRS was a go but the chassis would continue to be rear-drive. Still, that reality was more than a model year away, and dealers were selling Cougars as fast as they were delivered. It was a great time to be a Cougar dealer—and a Cougar buyer.

  • Two-toned XR-7 model (only year for this body style)
  • XR-7 C-pillar emblems (only year for the smaller size)
  • Sand Beige XR7 interior (only year for this body style)
  • Taupe interior color (only year in this body style)
  • Light Regatta Blue/Medium Shadow Blue two-tone exterior color (one year only)
  • Light Taupe/Medium Taupe two-tone exterior color (one year only)
  • Light Regatta Blue Metallic exterior color (light blues were unique to each model year)

Tech Specs



LS: 120 hp CFI 3.8L (232 cid) V6; optional 150 hp SEFI 5.0L (302 cid) V8
XR-7: 150 hp SEFI 5.0L (302 cid) V8
4-speed overdrive automatic (AOD) – all models
Front: 10.0″ vented disc
Rear: 9.0″ drum
(Rear 10.0″ drums with optional towing package and/or XR-7)
Wheelbase: 104.2″
Overall Length: 200.8″
Overall Width: 70.1″
Overall Height: 53.8″
Cargo Capacity: 14.6 cubic feet
Fuel Capacity: 22.1 gallons
Passenger Rating: 5 (4 with full console option)
LS: 3,133 lbs.
XR7: 3,379 lbs.
Newer body styling; XR7’s have grey lower accents.
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. 90E89 OCT 90 Recall 90E89, 49 States Exhaust Emissions Unacceptable
V8-302 5.0L Safety Recalls
1. 87S36 SEP 87 Recall 87S36 Fuel Line Retainer Clips
V8-302 5.0L General Recalls
1. 93B31 DEC 93 Throttle Body Lever Grommet – Recall 93B31

Production Breakdown

TOTAL: 105,847

Note: We will post any other figures when we get them.

1987 Mercury Cougar LS

1987 Cougar Wheels


Left to right: Performance 15″ aluminum wheel; 14″ luxury wheel cover; 14″ locking wire wheel cover; 14″ polycast road wheel; 15″ aluminum wheel (20th Anniversary model only).



NOTE: S=standard, O=optional


3.8L V6 engine with electronic central fuel injection (CFI) S
Electronic fuel-injected 5.0 liter V8 SEFI engine O S
4-speed automatic overdrive transmission with locking torque converter S S
Power rack-and-pinion steering with 20:1 ratio S
Power rack-and-pinion steering with 15:1 constant ratio S
Traction-Lok rear axle S
Dual hydraulic power brakes (front disc with audible wear sensors, rear drum) S S
Four-bar link coil spring rear suspension with Nitra-cushion front struts and rear shocks S S
Hybrid MacPherson strut front suspension with stabilizer bar S S
Handling suspension with Quadra-shock rear suspension O S
22.1-gallon fuel tank S S
45 amp-hr maintenance-free battery S
58 amp-hr maintenance-free battery O S
60 amp-hr alternator S S
Engine block heater O O
Front air dam S
5-mph impact bumpers, front and rear S S
Aero halogen headlamps S S
Wide vinyl bodyside molding S S
Tinted glass S S
Air conditioning S S
Automatic temperature control O O
60/40 cloth front twin comfort seats with consolette S
Articulated sport seats with console S
Individual bucket seats with console O
Cloth upholstery S S
Leather seating surfaces O O
6-way power driver’s seat O O
Dual 6-way power seats O O
Rear seat with integral headrests and center fold-down armrest S S
Courtesy lights S S
Door map pockets S S
Power windows O O
Dual power mirrors S S
Side window demisters S S
Electric rear window defroster O O
Interval windshield wipers O O
Tilt steering wheel O O
Sport steering wheel O
Leather-wrapped steering wheel O O
Fingertip speed control O O
Automatic parking brake release O
Luggage compartment light S S
Quartz analog clock S
Electronic digital clock O S
Illuminated entry system O O
Dual illuminated vanity mirrors O O
Electronic LCD digital display with speedometer, odometer, trip odometer, speed warning and service interval reminder feature S
Electronic instrument cluster with digital speedometer, odometer, trip odometer, fuel, coolant, oil and voltage displays, diagnostic alert lamps and trip computer O S
BSW = black sidewall; WSW = white sidewall
P215/70R14 WSW all-season steel belted radial tires S
P215/70R14 BSW all-season steel belted radial tires O
P225/60VR15 BSW performance steel belted radial tires S
Performance 15″ aluminum wheels S
Polycast 14″ road wheels O
Wire locking wheel covers O
Luxury wheel covers S
Electronic AM/FM stereo with 4 speakers (could be deleted for credit) S S
Electronic AM/FM stereo with cassette and 4 speakers O O
Premium Sound – power amplifier, two additional door-mounted speakers and premium rear speakers – 80w total O O
Graphic equalizer O O
Power antenna O O
Includes auto-lamp on/off/delay system and automatic headlamp dimmer
Includes engine compartment light, dual-beam dome/map light and instrument panel courtesy light
Includes power door locks, power decklid release and power fuel filler door release
Allows driver’s door to be unlocked by depressing numbers above door handle in proper sequence. Passenger side door and decklid can also be opened with additional numbers.


Preferred Equipment Packages (PEP) – Cougar LS


Interval windshield wipers
Electronic digital clock
Tilt steering wheel
Fingertip speed control
Electric rear window defroster
Electronic AM/FM stereo cassette radio
Power windows
Light group
Power lock group
Front carpet floor mats
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
6-way power driver’s seat
Polycast wheels (or locking wire wheel covers)
Dual illuminated vanity mirrors
Dual 6-way power seats
Premium Sound system
5.0L EFI V-8 engine
Electronic instrument cluster
Conventional spare tire


Preferred Equipment Packages (PEP) – Cougar XR-7


Interval windshield wipers
Tilt steering wheel
Fingertip speed control
Electric rear window defroster
Electronic AM/FM stereo cassette radio
Power windows
Power lock group
Front carpet floor mats
6-way power driver’s seat
Dual illuminated vanity mirrors
Premium Sound system
Light group
1987 Mercury Cougar LS

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
1K / Smoke
2D / Medium Scarlet
9L / Oxford White
2H / Medium Cabernet Red (20th Anniversary model only)

* 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
14 / Silver Metallic
18 / Smoke Metallic
26 / Bright Red Metallic
33 / Light Regatta Blue Metallic
5B / Driftwood Metallic
5W / Light Taupe Metallic
55 / Medium Taupe Metallic
77 / Medium Shadow Blue Metallic
8Z / Sandalwood Metallic
Tu-Tone Exterior Colors
1C Black / 18 Smoke Metallic
14 Silver / 18 Smoke Metallic
33 Light Regatta Blue Metallic / 77 Medium Shadow Blue Metallic
5W Light Taupe Metallic / 55 Medium Taupe Metallic
XR-7 Two-Tone Exterior Colors
1C Black / 73 Medium Smoke
14 Silver Metallic / 73 Medium Smoke
18 Smoke Metallic / 73 Medium Smoke
26 Bright Red Metallic / 73 Medium Smoke
33 Light Regatta Blue Metallic / 73 Medium Smoke
5B Driftwood Metallic / 73 Medium Smoke
77 Medium Shadow Blue Metallic / 73 Medium Smoke
9L Oxford White / 73 Medium Smoke


Interior Seating and Door Panels

Cougar LS
Standard Twin Comfort Lounge Seats in Sand Beige Cloth

Cougar LS
Optional Individual Seats in Taupe Cloth

Cougar XR-7
Standard Functional Sports 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.