Restoring

Emblems & Decals

Page Revised: 10 May 2019

Mode:

Article by
Eric Dess

The finishing touches on any project are always a welcome sign. For these cars, steeped in a rich history of embracing the brand image, there are no better examples of said finishing touches as the emblems. Lincoln-Mercury division always made sure that the cat emblem was one of the most prominent features on the Cougar, so much so that the logo itself was the brand image of L-M for many years. The Fox Cougars had no shortage of exterior nomenclature, but over time these bits get pitted and degrade with the elements and sunlight. Or, if you have factory-style vinyl decals, they might be cracking or peeling, or missing altogether. You might be thinking about replacing these parts, so we've prepared some helpful information about doing just that.

Note: Please refer to the Emblems page here for visual references and part numbers where applicable.



Types

Emblems on these cars, for the most part, used real elements:

  • Things like the C-pillar emblems, grille emblem, etc. were made of real metal.
  • The plastic nomenclature (interior, trunklid, taillights, etc.) were made of high-grade OEM chromed plastics and have held up quite well in a lot of cases.
  • Some special emblems were cloisonné, which is glass laid into a metal mold. Most of the 1987 20th Anniversary Cougar's exterior emblems were this way, along with a few Blue Max and other special edition Cougars of the era.

 



Metal Emblems

1987-88 Cougar Grille Emblem

It's possible that the metal emblems originated as pot metal and then were chromed. Regardless, they can be rechromed again if you don't have any serious pitting. Minor scratches and abrasions can usually be fixed during this process. You will need to find a shop that specialized in chroming and get a price quote from them; it won't be cheap, as government regulations particularly in the U.S. have made this process a lot more costly. You can always hunt down a better, used or even NOS piece if you so desire. That may end up being cheaper in the long run. But either way you can definitely get a better looking end result.

 



Plastic Emblems

COUGAR Trunklid Emblem

While we've seen the chrome portions pit, more often than not the plastic can break. Either one of these situations will require replacement of the emblem, as these problems cannot be fixed easily. The trunklid/taillight nomenclature, in particular, are the most susceptible to pitting and damage since they stick out from the surface.

Good, used emblems are out there, so be sure to check eBay and swap meets, as well as your local salvage yard. Also, if you know the part number, you can search for new old stock (NOS) pieces; see this page for reference photos and part numbers. You may have to hunt for awhile, though.

We have seen a few attempts at 3D printed emblems over on the Thunderbird side, and we're encouraged that this process may lead to new nomenclature available for the Cougar in the future. If there is any good information on that later on then we'll be sure to update this page.

 



Cloisonné Emblems

20th Anniversary Cougar Cloisonné Emblem

These special emblems are essentially glass with metal inlays. They are beautiful to behold and are very substantial pieces. Unfortunately they do have some big downfalls, mainly with the glass portions chipping, and the metal fading or de-chroming under UV light. And we don't know of any way to practically fix either problem. We're fairly certain that there are many drawers full of chipped or faded cloisonné emblems that owners have removed over the years, and just replaced with others. Again, NOS pieces are rare and expensive. Your best bet may be decent replacement emblems but be warned: these require an inordinate amount of patience to find, even on eBay. That's mostly due to the scarcity of surviving cars with said emblems.

There seem to be few places that can restore a cloisonné emblem; Emblemagic or Hibernia Auto Restoration, LLC may possibly be able to refurbish them. Please contact these businesses directly for a quote.

 



Decals & Striping

There were very few factory Cougars that had adhesive-backed decals. The lower sections of 1984-87 XR-7's had applied striping. Two-tone 1983-88 cars had a thick (approx. 1") multi-colored band to bridge the colored sections. The 1988 XR-7 had a special pinstriping that was, in fact, a decal. And some dealer-installed special editions like the Cougar RS and Blue Max cars had additional decals and lower striping.


1984-86 Cougar XR-7 (Lower)
1985 Cougar XR-7

The lower section of these Cougars were set apart from the lower models with their unique tri-band striping. Lower sections were generally silver or dark charcoal, depending upon the main body color. The striping appeared to be white in color. We don't know of any aftermarket kits available but these should be rather easy to reproduce with vinyl or even paint.

Note: If you own a 1984-86 XR-7 and can get us the stripe measurements from your car, please contact us. Thanks!


1987 Cougar XR-7 (Lower)
1987 Cougar XR-7

The lower striping for 1987 XR-7s changed slightly, now four bands of black over a medium silver (argent). Again, we know of no pre-made aftermarket kits. The striping can be reproduced with vinyl or paint. One thing to note is that the striping ends short of each body line and opening by about 1/4" or so, meaning the stripes do not wrap around the wheel well openings, nor do they touch at the bumper-to-fender seams.

Thanks to viewer Niki we have now produced a template guide for the 1987 Cougar XR-7 striping pattern. You can download it here:

Download 1987 XR-7 Striping Template

 


1988 Cougar XR-7 (Upper)

There is upper striping on 1988 XR-7s in the form of decals. Unlike "normal" pinstriping found on LS models, the '88 XR-7 striping is above the upper body crease. At the C-pillar the stripes get larger and wrap around the trunklid; at the front, the stripes taper to a point by the grille. We have looked for these factory stripe kits over the years and discovered that they're REALLY difficult to find. If we ever get part numbers we'll post them here; in the meantime, here are some photos of a mint '88 XR-7 for reference:

1988 Cougar XR-7 Striping 1988 Cougar XR-7 Striping 1988 Cougar XR-7 Striping 1988 Cougar XR-7 Striping

 


Cougar RS
Cougar RS

The enigmatic Cougar RS model was the only other 1983-86 Cougar model aside from the XR-7 to have wide bodyside moldings. It also had decals on the lower section that were very similar to those used on Mercury Capri RS cars. A company called Graphic Express carries the Capri "RS" emblems but we're unsure if they were the same as the ones used on the Cougar version. The lower striping is definitely unique and will need custom cut and color matched by a vinyl shop (or painted on).


Cougar Blue Max/Special Edition
1988 Cougar Blue Max Edition

The lower section of 1985-86 Cougar Blue Max Editions were simply painted silver (argent). However, for the 1988 Blue Max Edition (and other Special Editions) there was a full lower stripe decal that was applied to the car. It essence there were eight separate pieces applied, with the compound curves of the bumper covers being the most difficult ones to apply. Generally they have held up well, although random chunks of the decal can disappear or peel off.

A good, permanent, and rather inexpensive solution would be to simply paint the stripes on. And we wouldn't blame you if you did. The issue becomes the spacing; with so many parallel stripes going on, it's very easy to misalign them and your eye will definitely notice any small errors. It might be something best left to a professional.

We do not know of any pre-made replacement Special Edition/Blue Max striping kits, so you would need to have them custom cut at a vinyl shop, using your existing striping as a pattern. The shop may also be able to apply the kit for an additional fee.

Based upon our own measurements of the stripes on a Blue Max Edition we previously owned, we've compiled a guide to help recreate the stripes for your vehicle should you need to do so. Click the link below to download.

Download Blue Max/SE Striping Template