©2020 courtesy of RM Auctions
  • 428-ci Cobra Jet Ram Air V8 engine
  • C6 automatic transmission
  • One of 2,250 with Eliminator package
  • One of just 304 with this engine/transmission
  • Accompanied by original build sheet and Elite Marti
  • Report
  • AACA Senior National First in 2006

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1969 Mercury Cougar Eliminator 428 CJ
Years Produced:1969–70
Number Produced:2,250
Original List Price:$4,077
SCM Valuation:$44,500
Tune Up Cost:$250
Chassis Number Location:Tag under windshield
Engine Number Location:Front right-hand cylinder bank
Alternatives:1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 428, 1969 Pontiac Trans Am, 1970 Plymouth ’Cuda 383
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot 310, sold for $69,300, including buyer’s premium, at RM Sotheby’s Online Only: Palm Beach sale held March 20–28, 2020.

Envisioned as a Mustang that went to a European finishing school, Mercury’s Cougar set out to entice buyers with upscale “GT” appointments and better ride (thanks to a three-inch-longer wheelbase), while retaining the Mustang’s performance credentials. On its debut in 1967, it sold 150,000 units — about one-third of the Mustang’s sales for the year and nearly double that of the also-new Pontiac Firebird.

Hot cat

When the longer and wider ’69 models were introduced, Ford executives decided to grab onto the burgeoning performance market. The new Mustang Mach 1 was a sales success, so not wanting to be left behind, the company introduced the Cougar Eliminator mid-year.

Not technically a formal model with a VIN identifier code, “Eliminator” was an option package added to the base (non-XR-7) Cougar. For $130, you got a 351-ci Windsor 4-bbl rated at 290 hp, performance handling and axle packages and belted 14-inch tires.

Exterior features included a blacked-out grille, hood scoop, front and rear spoilers, a racing mirror and subtle side graphics. Inside were high-back buckets and a full gauge cluster in a crackle-finished dash.

Standard colors were limited to orange, blue, yellow and white. A mandatory option was the $70 Eliminator décor group, which included a deluxe steering wheel, special door trim, interior lights and moldings. At $3,216 (an $80 premium over a similarly powered Mach 1), you received a car, in the words of the sales brochure, “unique in its blend of European road-car manners with American fine-car elegance.”

The 351 was just the starting point; optional engines included the 390-ci, 320-hp, 4-bbl V8 and a pair of 428-ci big blocks with or without Ram Air, each rated at 335 hp. Either 428 could be upgraded to Super Cobra Jet specification, which included an oil cooler, drag-friendly axle ratios and internal engine upgrades. The only engine that was unique to the Eliminator was the new Boss 302 mill, which produced 290 hp at 5,800 rpm.

Detailed restoration

As you would expect from an online-only sale, the RM Sotheby’s example was well illustrated in their Web catalog. A former magazine feature car and recipient of a 2006 AACA National First Prize Award, it was presented with an original build sheet, reproduction window sticker and Marti Report.

Paint and chrome look first-rate, with excellent bodylines. It has an entirely stock exterior with OEM Goodyear Polyglas tires on the standard Eliminator steel wheels with dog-dish caps. With 77,100 miles showing on the odometer, the interior and dash look unworn.

Under the hood, the 428 Ram Air engine is clean, stock and well detailed, with assembly marks and OEM belts, wires and hoses.

The Marti Report tells us this is one of just 304 with the R-code 428 and auto. Dave Wyrwas, the Eliminator registrar for the Cougar Club of America, reports the Ram Air big block was the third-most-popular engine ordered (after the base 351 and 390), selling well ahead of the Boss 302 (just 169 sold), with the least popular being the 428 non-Ram.

Right price

The $69,300 sale price for this car is substantially ahead of the ’69 Eliminator’s $44,500 median in the ACC Pocket Price Guide. It’s worth noting that the guide doesn’t list a separate value for the 428s; however, this sale is a bit above the $66k value for a 428-powered Mach 1.

Along with the engine spec, another factor at play here is rarity. While Ford produced 72,000 Mach 1s in 1969, Mercury turned out just 2,250 Eliminators (of which 469 appear today on the club registry). The next year, Ford sold nearly 41,000 Mach 1s, while Eliminator production stayed essentially the same at 2,267. So even taking both years into account, the Eliminator is a rare cat.

Of course, values change over time, and in the case of 428 Eliminators, longtime owners should be pleased with this result. Back in ACC #13 (January–February 2014), B. Mitchell Carlson named the big-block Eliminator as an undervalued sleeper at $35,000. This car brought double that, and the price is in line with today’s market.

The latest Eliminator 428 in the ACC Premium Auction Database sold for an identical $69,300 at the Leake Scottsdale sale in January (ACC# 6925344), while a #2 condition 1970 428 auto sold for $60,000 at RM Auctions’ Fort Lauderdale sale in March 2019 (ACC# 6899751).

Lesser-engine Eliminators seem to be stuck in the doldrums. A ’69 390 brought $30,800 at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale this year (ACC# 6923956), and $34,185 was the all-in price for a 390 at McCormick’s Palm Springs event in February (ACC# 69304479). So, if you want a bargain, 351- and 390-powered cars are still sleepers, especially compared with Mach 1s. And in case you’re curious, according to our Premium Database, the few Eliminator Boss 302s (combined ’69–70 production: 315) regularly sell in the $90,000–$110,000 range — well above the $67,000–$68,000 price-guide values of the 8,252 1969–70 Mustang Boss 302s.

While the Cougar, even in its potent and rare Eliminator form, may not be the first Pony Car to come to mind, it’s clear that it’s finally getting the attention it deserves. Well bought and sold.

(Introductory description courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.)

Comments are closed.