In the interest of fairness, we’ve finally decided to share information about other 1983-88 Fox Cougars here. And by “other” we mean…well, just different cars that don’t fit into any other section of this site. They might not be everyone’s cup of tea but they do represent cars that originally began their lives as Fox Cougars, and their owners are every bit as passionate about them. We thought they’d like to have a little love thrown their way while we document their cars for the ages.
Tiffany Classic Coupe (1983-88+)
The Internet was our first exposure, many moons ago, to one of the most extravagant and outrageous Cougar conversions we’ve ever seen: the Tiffany Classic Coupe. Admittedly we didn’t really know much about them but have seen them consistently pop up for sale, and commanding uncommonly high prices at that. We’d even spotted a few at car shows. So we decided to get a little more information about them and share it here.
The Tiffany Classic was created by Classic Motor Carriages (CMC) in Florida. They had previously made various other replicas and the new Fox Cougar’s lines led them to complete their version of a “neo-classic”. From the outside it appears that the doors and roofline, as well as the windshield and rear window, are the only vestiges of the Cougar. Everything else was chopped, cut, and replaced with fiberglass parts that covered the extended 145″ custom frame. It seems like there isn’t a square inch on the car’s exterior that hasn’t been modified in some way. The overall look suggests cars from the 1930s but with much more flamboyance. (We understand that the spare tires on the fenders are actually real.)
Fortunately there wasn’t much change with the drivelines. While we believe there are likely some 3.8L V6 examples out there, it seems like the 5.0L V8 was the engine of choice and that’s a good thing, with the extra low-end torque providing much needed off-the-line acceleration for the now-heavier creation. We’ve been told that the ride is very smooth due to the greater wheelbase. It seems the fuel tank was replaced with a larger 25-gallon version but the standard Cougar rear axle was untouched.
The interior was all Cougar, and most of the Tiffany Classics were based at least LS models which meant the “high” series door panels and thicker carpeting, plus the usual luxury amenities. Cougar emblems were replaced with custom CMC ones but otherwise it was Cougar fare all the way, down to the radio and switchgear. Leather seating was seemingly more popular than cloth.
There also seemed to be many different color combinations on the Tiffany Classics. Some were more or less monochromatic while others were two-toned or even tri-toned. A half-vinyl top appears to have been an option at some point, possibly from the factory, although we’ve seen more without the top than with. We understand that each car was unique, as far as color combinations, and that CMC worked with the future owners to customize the appearance.
Interestingly, the cars still retained their Mercury VIN numbers and they are still considered Mercury Cougars as far as title and insurance purposes even today.
Classic Motor Carriages eventually found themselves in a bit of hot water. First, the famous jewelry maker Tiffany & Company took objection to the name of the car being called just the “Tiffany”, so it was renamed the “Tiffany Classic Coupe” to avoid any legal issues. And apparently CMC was over-charging and under-delivering to customers, to the point where a lawsuit in the 1990s effectively ended their business. No exact figures for the total production of Tiffany Classics are known but most estimates are in the neighborhood of between 150-500 vehicles from 1983-90. (The MN12-spec Tiffany Classics are very, very rare–maybe just a handful were made for each model year). The production records were destroyed and the true total is forever lost to the ages.
We would be remiss if we didn’t talk about pricing. Because of the extensive conversion, the initial Tiffany Classic cost was pretty steep at around US $33,000. That’s about US $20,000 over and above the car’s cost new. (For comparison, a Cougar convertible of the era was about US $8-10K over the car’s cost). That was an incredible amount of money at the time. So right from the start this was intended to be a rather exclusive vehicle for a discriminating buyer.
However, over the years a very interesting thing has happened. Because these cars are still technically Mercury Cougars, and because the Tiffany Classics have held their value incredibly well even after three decades, they have slowly but steadily started to increase the average values of “normal” Cougars.
We do realize that the Tiffany Classic is a polarizing design. But we’ve also had the opportunity to converse with quite a few owners over the years, and they love the cars for what they are. We can’t ask for anything better than that.
Special thanks to Bishop Charles B. Brinson for sharing his photos.
Ford Cougar – Mexico (1983-88+)
The Fox Cougar’s popularity was evident all over North America and was a huge hit on both sides of the U.S. border. While Canada received relatively modest-sized shipments of the cars, it seems that Mexico got far less. But there was a logical reason for this Mexican Cougar.
As relayed to us by several natives of Mexico that are ardent fans of these cars, the Cougar was allowed to be sold there but only after receiving a certain amount of Mexican content (we’ve heard 20%), after which the U.S.-spec VIN number was replaced with a Mexican one. For example, the radio may have had Spanish nomenclature instead of English and that counts as a Mexican part.
Since there was no Mercury division in Mexico, all Cougars became Ford models and were sometimes badged with the Ford oval on the trunk. They were sold from the initial 1983 model through the early 1990s. At times the model years were one behind: what was 1987 in the U.S. was 1988 in Mexico, for example. This reasoning is unclear but a backlog of cars waiting to be converted might explain it somewhat.
We’ve been collecting Mexican Cougar brochures for many years now and the cars seem to have had certain characteristics. The engines stayed carbureted longer, sometimes by several model years vs. their fuel injected counterparts up north. The standard engine was the 3.8L V6, but we believe that the 5.0L V8 may have been available at some point. Some of the literature of the era lists a 4-speed manual transmission as standard, with the 3-speed automatic (C5) optional, but most of what we’ve encountered are automatics. The air cleaners were the dual-snorkel kind found in mid-1980s Mustangs in the U.S.
As far as options go, it was a rather strange mix compared to normally loaded-up U.S. and Canadian versions. We’ve seen the Mexican Cougars with power windows but no power locks, no cruise control, no map lights, etc. but LS/”high” series door panels. But we have seen cars with added power windows and locks (the non-standard switches are a dead giveaway) which may have been part of its Mexican content requirement.
On the outside, most Mexican Cougars seem to have been adorned with a vinyl half top that may have been applied on the Mexico side of the border (the plain roof was available). They also carried the upright 1983 Cougar hood ornament all the way into 1986. For 1987-88 models, the MERCURY letters in the front bumper cover were replaced by a custom COUGAR stick-on decal. On the driver’s side rear panel, right in front of the taillight, is a key lock that worked a standard alarm system. Taillights were often not “correct” for the U.S. (ex: 1984 taillights on a 1985-86 model). The wheels ranged from a unique spoked Ford-badged aluminum rim to an exclusive geometric, hexagonal-patterned rim whose cousin was a rare option on 1984-85 Lincoln Mark VII’s. (Even though those rims are only 5.5″ wide we’d still love to have a set regardless.)
As far as we’ve discovered, the U.S-spec 1988 model year ran a bit into 1989 in Mexico. And we’ve been told that there were Fox-chassis Cougars running the MN12’s 3.8L supercharged V6, although we’ve not been able to confirm that. We also know that some U.S.-spec Cougars have snuck across to Mexico but don’t know of any Mexican Cougars in the U.S. and that’s likely due to America’s strict imported car laws.
One thing is clear: Mexican Cougar owners are highly passionate about their cars and they are revered as a luxury car there, even after all this time. There are lots of YouTube videos on them and we encourage you to explore them to get a better sense of what a Cougar means south of the U.S. border. Definitely eye-opening.
4-Door Fox Cougars – Mexico
As bizarre as this sounds, apparently there were 4-door Cougars produced in Mexico.
Imagine our surprise when, in 2018, we ran across this 4-door Cougar on a Facebook group. Apparently they were based off a Lincoln-like 4-door car already being sold in Mexico at the time. Essentially the front and back ends of the Cougar were grafted onto the other car’s frame. Inside, the Cougar’s dash was used and the front door panels were shortened to fit. It appears that new rear door panels were fabricated to match the front.
The blue car shown here was recently restored and was for sale shortly thereafter. It appears that a vinyl faux-convertible top covers up some of the welding work, or perhaps it was an option. The owner didn’t give a whole lot of valuable information above and beyond what was already known. We also suspect that there weren’t too many of these sold.
If we get any more information about these cars, we’ll be sure to update the information here.