I can remember tumbling around on the floor of the Cougar.
I couldn’t have been more than 3 years old, but I remember looking up at my dad from the floorboard below the passenger seat of his 1968 Mercury Cougar. All I knew back then was that the car went fast, was loud and made my dad happy.
I don’t know if I fell off the passenger seat or if my dad had me ride down there on purpose, but I remember laughing and loving every minute of it.
Unfortunately, I never got to fully appreciate the car, because my mom “suggested” that my dad sell it so they could have a more comfortable and practical family vehicle.
That’s a shame, because that ’68 had a 428-cubic-inch 390-hp 4-barrel V8, which certainly explains my inability to stay still on the floor or planted in the seat.
It’s also why the 1968 Cougar is the American classic I’d buy right now if I could.
The topic of classic American cars invokes a passion in people like few other automotive topics. Devotees of the Olds 442 will argue with owners of the ‘64 Pontiac GTO all day long, while classic Mustang buffs will risk friendships if someone dares call a Challenger superior.
I’ve worked on and driven many classics, from Chevelles to Mustangs to helping restore a 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado. All of them were beautiful cars, but that Cougar holds a special spot in my heart. I still live near the winding mountain road my dad used to take me up in that car, and I’ll occasionally go drive it as an adult just to flash back and remember the feelings, sounds and smells of the Cougar.
I also stay firmly planted in my seat, thanks to the invention of the modern seatbelt.
The beautiful thing about classic cars is that they are usually remembered and treasured because of their associations with memories, which go way deeper than horsepower ratings and cubic inches.
What’s your favorite American classic car?