Carlisle Ford Nationals to feature serial No. 1 Cougar

Ed. Note: Story and images courtesy of Carlisle Events.

The 2017 Carlisle Ford Nationals show is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Mercury Cougar, including the appearance of the serial No. 1 Cougar.
The will be held Friday-Sunday, June 2-4, at the Carlisle Fairgrounds in Carlisle, Pa.

The special Cougar will be on display in Building T, along with dozens of special Cougars, including the XR-7, GT, Eliminator, Dan Gurney Special, Sports Special, XR7-G, XR7-G Hertz, GT-E, Cougar 500, Ski-Pac Special, Calypso Coupe, Rocky Mountain Special, Hounds-tooth Top (both white and ginger colors), R-code Cougar, 429 Equipped Cougar, Blue Max Cougar, 25th Anniversary Cougar, 30th Anniver-sary Cougar and the Roush Cougar.

The serial No. 1 Cougar has its origins in 1966. Ford Motor Co. put in a deepwater shipping facility on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick/Nova Scotia.

Lee Iacocca and other Ford executives were present for the dedication. Dryden Motors, of Moncton, New Brunswick, which was the oldest Ford-Lincoln-Mercury dealer in Canada at the time, sent their dealer principal to the event.

He had the opportunity to talk to Iacocca to try and get his Mercury Cougar orders in quicker after finding he was way down on the list for fulfillment.

Iacocca agreed to send him a factory show car to put in the showroom. After a call to Special Vehicle Operations, Iacocca had a vehicle for Dryden Motors.

However, he was unaware that they were sending him Cougar One and it turned out it couldn’t be sold because it didn’t have the Manufacturers Statement of Origin. Dryden Motors then put it out on a closed-end lease to the owner of a local car wash across the street from the dealership.

After returning the lease to the dealership 35 months later, Cougar One was parked at the dealership until 1979. After the dealer principal died, the dealership lost its personal service contract with Lincoln Mercury, the dealership filed bankruptcy and the car was auctioned off.

Local hardware dealer Dale Garland won the auction and tried to sell the Cougar in 1982 in Cars and Parts magazine, with no luck.

The car sat in a Quonset hut south of Moncton until 1994, when Cougar Club of America member Mark Ogden found the old issue of Cars and Parts at a swap meet and saw the old classified ad.

He was able to contact Garland and found the car was still in storage in the hut.

Fellow club member Jim Pinkerton found out about the Cougar through Ogden and drove to New Brunswick to check the Cougar out.

After digging some snow out of the way of the door, Pinkerton made his way into the hut and inspected the car, finding that all the numbers identifying the car were still available.

Pinkerton offered Ogden the first chance to buy the car, since he was the one who originally found it. Ogden purchased the Cougar and owned it for about nine months, but decided the cost of restoration would be too much for him.

Ogden offered the car to Pinkerton for the price of what Ogden had put into the car, with the agreement that Pinkerton would restore it to the way it should be.

Pinkerton contacted Bob Lutz at Lincoln Mercury and made an agreement with them to lease the car for $1 for 30th anniversary events of the Cougar if Lincoln Mercury would pay to have the car restored.

The car was restored in time for the 30th anniversary after it was acid dipped and had many NOS parts purchased to replace old parts.