COOL CATS - The 1983-88 Mercury CougarCOOL CATS - The 1983-88 Mercury Cougar


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Revised June 29, 2016

Entering its second year of the new body style, the big news for the sleek Cougar was the addition of a performance XR7 model, while the GS and LS models gained slight refinement and subtle tweaks throughout.

The 1984 Cougar XR7


1984 Cougar XR7

In late 1983 Ford snuck out the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe but Mercury division waited until 1984 for the Cougar XR7's grand unveiling. Under the hood was a 2.3L (140 cid) OHC inline 4-cylinder whose roots dated back to the Pinto, but with a big twist: this motor was now turbocharged. Benefitting from modern electronics and ditching the older downdraft carburetor method of induction, this boosted 2.3L engine was replete with electronic fuel injection and produced a respectable (for its day) 145hp. The standard transmission was a metric C3; optional was a T-5 manual 5-speed, which has proven to be a rather rare option. The combination made this Cat exceptionally balanced and light on its feet. Power was put to the pavement via a 7.5" rear axle with 3.45 gears, Traction-Lok and horizontal axle dampers. Control was via nitrogen-filled shocks and struts, and spring rates were revised for better handling. Sway bars were fatter in both the front and rear. A slightly smaller gas tank lent itself well to the fuel-sipping 4-cylinder and had the added benefit of dropping a little weight. Although most Fox-chassis vehicles in general were not portly, the Cougar's larger overhang behind the rear wheels had the tendency to add weight and reduce balance. Ford engineers did a commendable job in keeping the Cougar XR7 as light as possible.

Visually the Cougar XR7 was set apart from other Cougars by its blacked-out window trim, wide body side moldings, body-colored mirrors, flat unique XR7 hood ornament, grey lower half with tri-band striping, and the "EFI TURBO" badge on the front fender. The XR7s also seem to have lost the chrome accents on their taillights, although this is an undocumented change thus far. Wheel choices were either the 14" polycast road wheels or the metric 390mm TRX wheels. Inside, the interior got a slight overhaul with a classy two-tone grey scheme, and a boost gauge was added due to the turbocharger. Sport bucket seats with manual adjustable lumbar were standard on the XR7.

2.3L Turbo-4 Engine Left: The fuel-injected 2.3 turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine produced 145 hp, and could be mated to either a 3-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual transmission.
1984 Cougar XR7 Dash Left: The XR7 instrument cluster with the integrated boost gauge. Note the lack of temperature and oil gauges. Shown also is the optional XR7-only 4-spoke steering wheel without cruise control. This wheel was used in Mustangs and Capris of the era, but was rather uncommon to be found in a Cougar. It was only available in 1984 on the XR7.
1984 Cougar XR7 Interior Left: The XR7 interior was replete with sporty touches, from the sport door panels to unique dark dash panels to fully adjustable Recaro-style articulated bucket seats. The XR7 also started a trend that stayed with that particular model through 1986: two-tone grey interiors. Shown here is an XR7 with cloth articulated seats in Charcoal and Oxford.
1984 Cougar XR7 Interior Left: This XR7 was equipped with leather seats which were monochromatic Charcoal in color. Door panels on all Cougar models lost the cat head emblem for 1984.
1984 Cougar XR7 Dash Panels Left: A closer look at the unique XR7 ebony brushed dash panels.
XR7 Quad Shocks Left: Also new was the Traction-Lok rear axle with horizontal dampers (aka "quad" shocks) for better axle control. As illustrated here, these special gas-filled horizontal shocks mounted between the axle and framerail mounts. The quad shocks themselves were identical to those introduced on the Mustang, with only the frame mounts being unique to the Cougar chassis. The turbo-4 rear axle featured Traction-Lok with 3.45 gears.


1984 Cougar LS


1984 Cougar LS

The Cougar LS received virtually no exterior changes save for the removal of fender emblems and the new flat hood ornament. The LS retained the chrome strips on the B-pillar trim as well as the electroluminescent coach lamps and bright rocker panel trim.

1984 Cougar LS Interior Left: The interior of Cougar LS in Charcoal with optional leather seats. Note the woodgrain dash panels, which again were LS-only. The steering wheel was still color-keyed but was of a new A-frame design, which helped with visibility of the gauges.
1984 Cougar LS Interior Left: The LS interior in Canyon Red with cloth seating. Cars with the optional full digital instrument cluster (not shown) received a black steering column and steering wheel.
1984 5.0L V8 Engine Left: The 5.0L CFI V8 was again offered as an option on both the GS and LS models. Power output remained the same at 130 hp.
1984 3.8L V6 Engine Left: In the U.S. the base 3.8L V6 engine added computer-controlled central fuel injection (CFI) for 8 more horsepower than the previous year, now up to 120 hp. Canadian models retained carbureted V6 engines until 1985.


1984 Cougar GS


1984 Cougar GS

Changes to the base GS model in 1984 were also very subtle. The B-pillar trim lost the chrome accents, and the aforementioned flat hood ornament was all new.

1984 Cougar GS Interior Left: The interior of Cougar GS in Academy Blue cloth. Note the new color-keyed A-frame steering wheel and brushed aluminum-style dash panels, which were slightly darker than the previous model year.

EEC-IV Processor Left: New across the board at Ford Motor Company for 1984 was their fourth generation of engine management computers, known as EEC-IV. This processor was capable of 250,000 commands a second to keep air/fuel mixture, idle, and emissions controls at optimum performance. The difference between the previous EEC-III and EEC-IV is quite substantial. Benefits were better gas mileage, vast improvements in diagnosing engine control problems, and greatly reduced emissions.

1984 Cougar Crash Testing Left: The Cougar did very well in U.S. government crash testing in both 1983 and 1984. Ford's use of progressive crumple zones in the Fox chassis proved to be a very beneficial factor in head-on and front glancing crashes. Massive door beams also helped keep damage in side impacts to a minimal degree. For their time, and in some ways even for today, these cars were very, very safe thanks to the dedication of Ford engineers.



The differences between the 1983 and 1984 Cougars were subtle but refined nonetheless, with definite forward progress. Sales continued to skyrocket, easily becoming one of the most successful Cougar sales years in quite some time. In some markets Ford was selling more of its midsize rear-drive cars with two models (Thunderbird, Cougar) than GM with its four aging G-bodies (Monte Carlo, Grand Prix, Cutlass, Regal). And in NASCAR, the Thunderbird's slippery shape paved the way for many wins over its competition. Still, with its new-found success, Ford was not about to stand pat—the company could now allot funds for the T-Bird/Cougar program and finally address something that needed the most immediate help: the interior.




ENGINES GS: 120 hp CFI 3.8L (232 cid) V6; optional 130 hp CFI 5.0L (302 cid) V8

LS: 120 hp CFI 3.8L (232 cid) V6; optional 130 hp CFI 5.0L (302 cid) V8

XR7: 145 hp MPI OHC turbocharged 2.3L (140 cid) I-4

TRANSMISSIONS 3-speed automatic (C3) - XR7 only, standard

5-speed manual (T-5) - XR7 only, optional

3-speed automatic (C5) - all V6 models

4-speed overdrive automatic (AOD) - all V8 models

BRAKES Front: 10.0" vented disc

Rear: 9.0" drum

SPECIFICATIONS 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: 21.0 gallons (GS & LS); 18.0 gallons (XR7)

Passenger Rating: 4

CURB WEIGHT GS: 3,065 lbs.

XR7: 3,053 lbs.

HOW TO SPOT ONE All 1984 Cougars had the flat hood ornament and the new color-keyed A-frame steering wheel. Carried over were the 3-tier taillights. Chrome trim on the B-pillars (except for the LS model) is now gone. The XR7 model has dark grey lower accents with 3 stripes. The 1984 XR7's have no fog lights.
RECALLS Cougar XR7 4-140 2.3L SOHC Turbo Safety Recalls
1. 477S MAR 84 Identification of Vehicles Requiring Final "D-Ring" Attachment

Cougar XR7 4-140 2.3L SOHC Turbo General Recalls
1. 87M50 APR 87 Inspection and Replacement of Thick Film Ignition Modules

V6-232 3.8L Safety Recalls
1. 477S MAR 84 Identification of Vehicles Requiring Final "D-Ring" Attachment

V6-232 3.8L Emissions Recalls
1. U7J840301 MAR 84 Replacement of the Exhaust Air Supply Control Valve

V8-302 5.0L Safety Recalls
1. 477S MAR 84 Identification of Vehicles Requiring Final "D-Ring" Attachment

V8-302 5.0L Emissions Recalls
1. 90E94 MAY 91 Emissions Recall 90E94



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GS/LS Production

XR7 Production


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Features Unique to 1984 Cougars:
  • Radio panels (satin silver outline was one year only)
  • Color-keyed A-frame steering wheel (only year for color-keyed A-frame)
  • GS brushed aluminum dash panels (darker than 1983 panels)
  • GS gauge cluster (brushed aluminum darker than 1983 cluster)
  • GS door panels (no emblems)
  • LS door panels (no emblems)
  • XR7 front bumper cover (no fog lamp cutouts like the Turbo Coupe)
  • XR7 taillights (lack of chrome accents)
  • XR7 dash panels (dark ebony brushed treatment)
  • XR7 gauge cluster (one year only)
  • XR7 4-spoke sport wheel center (only year for this wheel)
  • XR7 door panels (no emblems; some had cargo net instead of map pockets)
  • XR7 interior (Charcoal/Oxford combo would show up later but this is the only year for this dash in an XR7)
  • XR7 14" polycast road wheel center caps (XR7 logo instead of cat head)
  • Wheat interior color (one year only)
  • Pastel Academy Blue Metallic exterior color (light blues were unique to each model year)

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