A plush cougar overlooks its mechanical counterparts at the the 20th annual Fordnutz Cougar Club “Claw In” show and shine at the historic Fort Langley. The event marked the 50th anniversary of the Mercury Cougar. Dan Ferguson Langley Times
Mercury Cougar fans celebrate anniversary in Fort Langley
It was 50 years ago that the first Cougar rolled off the assembly line
The first Mercury Cougar rolled off the assembly line in Dearborn, Michigan 50 years ago, in 1967.
The first-generation Cougar was a two-door “pony car” that came in hard-top and convertible configuration.
It was meant to fill a gap between the Ford Mustang and Thunderbird by providing what the designers meant to be a more European, Jaguar E-type look with hidden headlights and a vertical bars on the front, often referred to as the “electric shaver grille.”
Twenty years ago, in 1997, the new Fordnutz Collector Club was started in Metro Vancouver, with members of the dormant West Coast Cougar Club among the first to sign up.
“The discussion centred around what the club should be,” president Scott Ferguson wrote on the club website.
“Should it be exclusive to Cougars, or opened up to other products manufactured by the Ford Motor Company and its Lincoln Mercury divisions? The decision was made to open it up to all enthusiasts with FoMoCo products.”
Like the name implies, Fordnutz is open to more than just Cougar owners, but judging from the line-up on the lawn outside the historic Fort Langley on the Canada Day weekend, they make up a substantial portion of the membership.
There were 123 vehicles at the show, 48 of them Cougars.
It was the Fordnutz “Claw In,” a celebration of the club’s 20th, the Cougar’s 50th, and Canada’s 150th birthdays.
Among the cars lined up, gleaming in the sun was an immaculate 1956 Mercury Montclair owned by Claud and Darlene Muench of Langley.
“There’s millions of dollars in cars here,” Muench told a visitor.
“Some beautiful cars.”
His car came with a mannequin of a teenage-sized drive-in restaurant car-hop in a classic A&W uniform, complete with roller skates, assembled from thrift store purchases with the aid of his wife Darlene.
Muench said he decided to go with an A&W theme because 1956 was the year the first A&W opened in Canada.
And the car has two-tone paint job with one of the colours a familiar-looking shade of orange.
“The colour was approximately right.”
He also found real-looking fake burgers for the car tray clipped to a car door from a company that supplies them for television ads.
His display also featured drive-in speakers.
The case was authentic, but the speakers were a considerable upgrade over the tinny-sounding originals.
The Montclair came standard with state-of-the-art safety features like a “deep-dish steering wheel” to help protect the driver from the steering column, safety door locks, breakaway rear view mirror, and optional seat belts and padded dashboards.
The Wikipedia entry about the Mercury Montclair says Ford historians are at a loss as to where the name originated, but the consensus is that it’s taken from the upper class community of Montclair, New Jersey.
The last Mercury Cougar rolled off the assembly line on Aug. 9, 2002.
Ford stopped making Mercury cars in 2011, but the company still holds the trademark.
Claud Muench applies some TLC to his 1956 Mercury Montclair at the 20th annual Fordnutz show and shine in Fort Langley on Sunday; below: Judge Kerry Spry instructs son Cole on the finer points of assessing an entrant.
Dan Ferguson Langley Times
Judge Kerry Spry instructs son Cole on the finer points of assessing an entrant at the Fordnutz 20th anniversary show at historic Fort Langley on Sunday. The event also marked the 50th anniversary of the Mercury Cougar and Canada’s 150th birthday. Dan Ferguson Langley Times