Mercury Cougar Eliminator History

Lincoln Mercury's Zip Code: CJ428

Hottest of the hot: L-M's muscle car line-up for 1969 was topped off by the new Cougar Eliminator and Mercury Cyclone, powered by an optional ram-air induction version of Ford's Cobra Jet 428 engine.

For muscle cars, 1969 was a banner year.  For Lincoln-Mercury Division, 1969 brought the introduction of “Streep Scene” (street and strip), an advertising theme coined by L-M to introduce hot new muscle Mercurys to the auto show circuit.

Cougar's New Look for 1969

Cougar's new look for 1969: An increase in size, restyled body and new convertible models led the way for the introduction of the Eliminator.

The Cougar, itself, took on a whole new look for 1969.  The new design was a little longer and wider than the first generation 1967/68 Cougars, with side sculpting that swept from the front fenders to the rear wheel wells.  The hideaway headlights were now covered by a horizontal grille and Cougar’s trademark sequential taillights became concave, ending in wrap around back up lights.

Dyno Don and the First Eliminator

"Dyno" Don and the first Eliminator: Drag racing legend "Dyno" Don Nicholson and his 1968 Cougar funny car made the Eliminator name a household word in drag race circles.

In the performance arena the Eliminator concept got off to a fast start when the name appeared on the drag strip funny cars driven by “Dyno” Don Nicholson and powered by the legendary 427 SOHC engine.  Then there was the “Eliminator” show car, a one of a kind concept car that was introduced to the auto show scene and to the media to test consumer response and capture pre-production publicity.

Production Eliminator

Production Eliminator: This 1969 Cougar standard hardtop was ordered with the Eliminator option package, bright orange paint and the optional 320 horsepower 390 GT engine. (1969 Eliminator restored by Jeff Trainer.)

The actual production Eliminator made its debut in the spring of 1969 in an attempt to boost an otherwise lack-luster public reception to the new model year Cougars.  This production model closely followed the design of the original show car and was initially offered in four special colors: white, bright yellow, bright orange and bright blue metallic.

Historical information on the 1969 Eliminator is somewhat murky, making it difficult to determine exactly what was offered and when it was offered.

Base Eliminator Engine

Base Eliminator engine: The base engine with the 1969 Eliminator option package was this 351 CID Windsor 4V. With a 10.5:1 compression ratio, the 351W developed 290 (gross) horsepower and 385 lbs/ft of torque. (1969 Eliminator restored by Bruce Haaland.)

However, we do know that, initially, three engines were available with the Eliminator option package.  In addition to the base 351 Windsor 4V, there was a four barrel version of the venerable 390 GT/Marauder engine and the Cobra Jet 428 engine, with or without ram-air induction.

The Little Boss

The "Little Boss": The Boss 302 engine was introduced to Cougars late in the 1969 model year and remained available throughout 1970. The Boss 302 cranked out 290 (gross) horsepower at 5,800 RPM. This example is found in John Benoit's rare 1970 four-speed Eliminator.

Late in the 1969 model year, the gutsy Boss 302 engine also became available in the Eliminator.  While the Boss 429 also appeared on some Eliminator option lists, this engine is only known to have been installed on two 1969 Cougars, the drag racing cars of “Dyno” Don Nicholson and Eddie Schartman.

1969 Eliminator Restored by Jim Trainer

Move over pony cars, Eliminator is here: With its rear wing, front air dam, hood scoop, and graphics, the 1969 Eliminator quickly became a contender in the muscle car market. (1969 Eliminator restored by Jeff Trainer.)

While the new Eliminator option package had to share the introduction spotlight with the first Cougar convertible, it more than held its own with bright colors, graphics and high-powered rock & roll engines!  Move over pony cars, Eliminator is here!  In total, 2,250 Eliminators were produced during the 1969 model year.

For 1970, the new Cougars showed up in dealership showrooms with a redesigned split, vertical grille more reminiscent of early Cougars, and a slightly different tail light treatment.  A new base engine was also announced, the 351 Cleveland, but short supplies resulted in many standard Cougars receiving the 1969 Windsor 351.

Password for Action Ad

Password for action: L-M Division made frequent use of this 1970 magazine ad to show off their newest Eliminator to muscle car enthusiasts.

The Eliminator option package entered its second year with bolder graphics, a black hood scoop and a new slogan: Password For Action!  The 300 (gross) horsepower 351 Cleveland 4V became the 1970 Eliminator’s base engine.

1970 CJ428

The CJ 428: Developing 335 horsepower and 440 lbs/ft of torque with 10.5:1 compression, the Cobra Jet 428 remained the Eliminator's big stick in 1970. (1970 CJ 428 Ram-Air Eliminator restored by Rich Ladd.)

While the 390 CID engine was dropped from the Cougar’s engine option list, the scrappy Boss 302 and pavement pounding CJ 428 were carried over from 1969 as optional Eliminator power plants.  The Boss 429 was also on the option list again, but there is no record of one going into any 1970 Cougar.

Even though 1970 Eliminator option package production (2,267) was up slightly over the 1969 figure (2,250), the end was near.  As 1970 faded into history, unfortunately, so did the Eliminator.  Drastic changes were occurring in the auto industry and muscle cars were not exempt.

Pollution regulations, escalating insurance costs and high gas prices were the major contributors to the demise of the American muscle car.  When the 1971 Cougar was unveiled, it was an entirely different Cat and the Eliminator had been eliminated.

1970 Eliminator Restored by John Swanson

End of the line: After only two years of production, pollution laws, high insurance costs and skyrocketing gas prices spelled the end of the Eliminator. (1970 Eliminator restored by John Swanson.)

Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Company, “Dyno” Don Nicholson, Jeff Trainer, and TCCN.

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