. Cobra Ranch Historical Automotive Blog: Featuring Wally Wyss

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cougar II prototype: Opinion sampler

      What if I told you that there's a small block cobra with very low mileage that sits in a dark dungeon in Detroit, hardly ever seen by the public? And that it has a one-off body?  The car is the 1963 Cougar, which was what was called a "dream car" back then, now called "concept cars."   Ford never liked the eggshell thin body of the aluminum bodied Cobra so designed a coupe similar to the Corvette and had one made.
Original Cougar Concept

      It is candy-apple red and is called the Cougar II because there was an earlier Cougar dream car built by Vignale in Italy for Ford.  The Cougar II is a fastback design with a fiberglass body and a 260 High-Performance engine with 4 speed transmission.  It has an all new dashboard.  The top is covered with some kind of brushed metal ( probably aluminum) to reflect heat.  Unlike the production Cobra, it had  concealed "pop-up" headlamps and a serious, fully instrumented interior.
     Where the regular 260 street Cobra would do about 160 Ford  claimed that Cougar II was engineered to reach speeds in the 170 miles-an-hour range. When interior air pressure exceeded 15 pounds per square inch, a relief panel across the rear of the passenger compartment opened automatically.  This panel was required, since there was the possibility that at high speeds, the extreme pressure against the rear window might blow it out. Cougar also had a unique spring-loaded window-lift mechanism that allowed adjustment to the curved side windows.
     Ford said it was constructed on chassis #CSX2004) . They refer in some press releases to the high-performance 289 Ford engine being moved rearward in the chassis so odds are it had a 289 not a 260 as they say elsewhere (maybe it arrived at Ford with a 260).  Ford claims it was designed before the Stingray coupe, which is possible but the timing was close since the Stingray coupe was designed starting in about 1961 for debut as a '63 model.
     Now that Cobra roadsters are worth North of $600,000, the Museum that can't afford to restore it should turn it over to be sold as a fund raiser (we suggest Gooding auction at Monterey) and with the money they could buy ten other prototypes from Detroit automakers.  It is the same argument you would use for a horse breeder who has a potential Secretariat thoroughbred but who can't take it to the big races like the Derby, so why not sell it and buy ten more horses?
     As it is, the Cougar II and the XD Cobra (another prototype on a real Cobra chassis) only see the light of day occasionally as the Detroit Historical Museum does not have space to show them in their regular collection.  Thankfully they have brought them out for special occasions, like for an appearance at the 2011 Detroit Autorama; just enough so we know they still exist!

Comment below if you think would it be more merciful to re-body the Cougar II into a Cobra.

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