This is not a prototype for the 1963 Corvette Stingray, though you can be forgiven if you thought it was. And it did not spring from Bill Mitchell’s GM styling studios, though it certainly looks as if it could have. This is, in fact, the 1963 Ford Cougar II, a design and engineering exercise developed under the direction of Ford styling director Gene Bordinat that, unfortunately, got no further than the concept stage.
3D photos and video, plus a vintage promotional video of the Cougar II after the jump.
The Cougar II was one of a series of Cougar concepts that Ford developed in the early 1960s. It was based on an AC Cobra tubular chassis rather than a production Ford platform and was powered by a 260 cid V-8 and 4-speed manual transmission with floor mounted shifter. The running prototype was said to be capable of speeds of up to 170 mph.
Standing at just under 4 feet tall and with a wheelbase of 90 inches and overall length of 168 inches, the two seat Cougar II was very small and shares some lines with the original Mustang concept, drawn by Phil Clark under Bordinat’s direction. A Popular Mechanics article described the car as having a removable targa-style roof that would have turned the car into a big air scoop at high speeds. To counter this effect, engineers gave the car a pressure relief panel below the rear window which would open if interior pressure exceeded 15 psi.
The Cougar II hit the stage at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and was shown around in other venues for a short time. With the production Mustang reaching showrooms shortly after this, there was no place in Ford’s product planning for a car like this and when the company did bring out the Mercury Cougar three years later it bore no resemblance to the concept car. Ford never ended up using the styling language of the original Mustang and Cougar concepts on a production car, though, interestingly, a photograph accompanying the 1964 Popular Mechanics article shows an instrument panel on the Cougar II that is quite similar to that of the production Cougar.
None of this is to suggest that the Cougar II had no influence on later Ford products. Though they were configured very differently from the Cougar II, one could argue that both the De Tomaso Pantera and the Ford GT are spiritual successors to the 1964 concept. If you squint, you can even see a bit of Cougar II in the front end of the Pantera.
The Cougar II concept was on display at the 2011 Detroit Autorama. It’s part of the Detroit Historical Museum‘s collection.
UPDATE: I found a promotional video for the Cougar II that was part of a larger mid 1960s Ford video on styling.
Click on the image gallery to launch a Flash player to view the images in your choice of 3D or 2D formats.
Start the video, pause, then click on the 3D button in the menu bar to select 3D or 2D format.
Promotional video (2D) of the Cougar II: