Car Blog Showdown: ’69 American sports cars

1969 Mercury Cougar

1969 Mercury Cougar

This is CarGurus’ first Car Blog Showdown. tgriffith and jgoods were each invited to select their favorite 1969 American sports car and tell us 5 reasons for their choice. Each also noted 3 reasons why they disagree with the other’s choice. We plan to run this feature weekly – let’s get our first Showdown started! (And please tell us which is your favorite 1969 American sports car!)

tgriffith’s 5 reasons why the 1969 Mercury Cougar is the best ’69 American sports car:

  • The available 428-cubic-inch V8 with 335 horsepower could rocket from 0-60 in 5.6 seconds. Booyah!
  • The front grill is intimidating, unique, and stronger than other cars of the same year.
  • This car could squeal the tires between 2nd and 3rd gears with an automatic transmission.
  • 1969 was the last year Cougars were true performance machines; this car is a legacy of American Muscle.
  • Mercury infused the Cougars with a touch of class that Mustangs, Camaros, and GTOs didn’t have.

jgoods’ 3 reasons why it isn’t:

  • The interior is cheesy.
  • The rear styling is bland and boring.
  • Do you like Merc-o-Matic transmissions?
1969 Pontiac GTO

1969 Pontiac GTO

jgoods’ 5 reasons why the 1969 Pontiac GTO is the best ’69 American sports car:

  • The muscle car that started it all in 1964, the ’69 GTO beats out all its competition with a 400-cid producing 366 hp, later a 400 block Ram Air V that could take you to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.
  • “The Judge” option with its phony hood scoops is one of the great chick magnets of all time.
  • Values (for good ones) keep climbing in the used-car market.
  • The GTO has the sleekest styling of all the muscle cars and charisma like no other.
  • Arrogance: Pontiac stole Ferrari’s sacred GTO name.

tgriffith’s 3 reasons why it isn’t:

  • It’s a money pit – if you buy one, you’d better open a second checking account, because a GTO will drain it faster than it burns through a gallon of gas.
  • The original build quality was questionable at best.
  • It’s a good-looking car…until you see it from behind. Why buy a muscle car that looks weak in the rear? After all, on the road that’s what people will be seeing.

What’s your favorite 1969 American sports car? Why?


  1. Hey tanner you need to go look up the definition of a muscle car because you apparently don’t know what it is. The cougar was the same as a mustang drivetrain only the cougar was offered only with a v8 ranging any where from a 351 through a big block 428. If you consider something a muscle car by just its name your stupid. So next time you feel like opening the hole in your face make sure you know what the hell your talking about.

  2. I’m a big Cougar fan, but have to take issue with tgriffith’s choice for a couple of reasons.

    1. I prefer the 1967-1968 body style. I feel they’re actually the more agressive and nimble looking Muscle cars. The body re-style in 1969 by the Lincoln Mercury folks got a bit too clunky in my opinion. Also, the 1968 Cougars could be had with the 427 or 428 big blocks as well, and with the lighter curb weight they were better straight line performers. Think GT-E or even plane jane 1968 Cougars with the 428 like this one:

    2. To say that 1969 was the last true performance year of the Cougar is just flat wrong. What about 1970? Like the Eliminators with the Boss 302 or 428 Cobra Jet engines.

  3. Having actually been alive and driving in 1969, none of us gearheads called them sports cars. They are muscle cars. Sports cars were made by Triumph, Porsche and the like and driven by college professors.

    I was actually working at PMD building GTO’s in 1969, but my heart belonged to the Camaro Z-28. The essence of the muscle car was a basic compact vehicle platform with a performance power train, and enthusiasts were hot to turn their back on weight-adding options and get the most basic vehicle with the best engine and drive train.

    The Merc’ is a prissed-up Mustang that was bought by women who wanted to look like they were part of the action without actually participating. I can’t think of any Ford enthusiast I knew who took the car seriously, even in 1969.

    And although the GTO had some good power options, it was a heavy car with a drive train that needed a lot of work to get that torque to the pavement. I’m firmly in the camp that feels that anything past the 1964-1967 goats just weren’t very good muscle cars.

    On the other hand, 1969 was the acme of the Z-28. It really appealed to those who wanted a great handling car as well as a fast straight-line racer, and optioned correctly it could out-handle and out-stop any other muscle car. Driving the high-revving small block was an entirely different experience than the high-torque big blocks. In other words, it was truly fun to drive on the street, at the strip, and on the track. At the time I drove a 1964 Belvedere Hemi, but I enjoyed driving my friend’s Z-car more.

  4. Clearly you both forgot one major issue, what screams AMERICAN? Mercury does very little in terms of American muscle. It’s clearly a wanna be American muscle car. One of the most true tests of an American muscle car is it’s ability to cross the decades of change. The Mercury Cougar is gone and therefore has little relavance in the history of American muscle. Yes it’s a fast car, especially for it’s time, but come on… a Mercury, that’s the best you could come up with? What about a Hemi Cuda, Better 0-60 and it’s more relevant in muscle car history.

    As for the GTO, it does scream American muscle. However Pontiac has tarnished the Goat name by introducing a terrible GTO in 2004, it was a knock-off and should have been styled better. They attempted to pre-empt the new mustang and it failed. Couldn’t you have found a better picture? Yes it looks BA, but the judge is known for it red/orange exterior. You included cost or upkeep? That’s foolish, the people who own these cars don’t care what it takes to fix them. Hello, whenever you park a Judge outside a restaurant people stop and take pictures and dream about what it would be like to have one. One simple suggestion, if you don’t have the money don’t buy the car or park it in the garage until you do. It’s worth more not working than not even having one.

    What about a 1969 Corvette ZL-1? This car makes either of these look like tuner cars. 0-60 in 4 seconds? Come on guys, u think 5.6 is fast, I have a truck that beats that. 4 seconds still beats Ferrari and Lamborghini today. Oh and by the way, the GTO was not what started the muscle car era, clearly it was corvette or mustang (another good conversation piece). The corvette is still rated as America’s favorite muscle car, Pontiac was a good try and Mercury was far fetched or even ludicrous.

    Sorry guys, you both missed the ball this time. Good luck next time.

  5. For the first time all year, I wholeheartedly agree with jsgoods. I had one of these, a convertible, and never had a problem with it, ever. Agree that the best adjective describing its being: arrogance! Its only annoyance was the cheesy vinyl seating which would fry your thighs in summer and make your manhood withdraw inside your loins in the winter. Not good when with your favorite squeeze.

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