Hello there deja vu, it’s been a while. About three years ago,I did an article about this particular model and it was a nine paragraph tongue bath about the kit’s quality and praising it through and through. I’m a sucker for these mid-eighties through mid-nineties kits cause they, just like the kits of old, actually feature a car of its day. We as modelers love, and I do mean love to sit in a particular era. Wading in the pool of the 1930s through the 1950s are getting all the attention with some here and there winks to the 1960s, while anything from 2010 or over is wholly in the hands of the Asian kit manufacturers. To each their own, I don’t piss in their pool, they don’t come pissing in mine and that’s fine by me. But back then, especially around the turn of the 1990s, Revell and MPC were doing a damn fine job making model kits of contemporary vehicles.
And by some weird turn of events, Revell got to do the newly restyled Cougar of back then. In my opinion, the best Cougar since 1974, but that’s not saying a whole lot. The Cougar is, well, just like a real life Cougar, difficult to keep up with and seems to have the desire to change everything about itself every few years, just like the well uh, female kind of cougar. Tasteless jokes aside, the Cougar came to be as in my wretched opinion the best styled vehicle ever. I mean, the canvas is nothing short of muscle car perfection; it started off as a 1967 Ford Mustang coupe, the car that defined the muscle car era which by that year got a little update on the body, then they got rid of the rounded off edges on the front and rear and added sharp corners and angles. “It’s gotta look more European”, Ford made the bottom line, taking Jaguars and Mercedes’ as points of inspiration, which let’s be honest… Not exactly a bad place to look for inspiration.
Then, the best thing about the 1960s and 1970s: hidden headlights. Yeah, fair, they never fucking worked and in the Cougar’s case, it’s wickedly cool looking electric-razor grille would stay frozen in that look if the vacuum pump system for the headlights failed on the ’67 and ’68, which is a bit of a whoopsy if they failed at night or something. At least they kind of mended it in 1969, when the car also got it’s more aggressive longer look. The “Cougar Line” as it’s known by is the long, angled down slope that follows the whole side of the car, kind of giving it a stretched look even though it was only about 15cm longer from the ’68 model, though they absolutely ruined it in my once again, wretched and yet oh-so humble opinion with the horizontal grille. But, I hear you think, they totally fixed that in 1970 by combining the aggressive, awesome body of the ’69 Cougar with the front and tail end of the ’68. And I would say, why yes, yes they did! The 1970 Cougar is the best of them out there, it’s aggressive, it looks like a Bond villain car and it was lightning fast to boot. Also, worth mentioning – it was luxurious as all hell in there.
You know, Plymouth can boast about the ’67 through ’70 GTX were the “gentleman’s muscle car” ’til the damn chickens come home to roost, I’d argue no GTX was ever quite as dastardly gentleman’s as the Cougar. It’s air dam looks like it hovers up the souls of lesser beings and if you see that closed headlight grille come up behind you, you’d think you landed in a scene of Mad Max. It easily was the best looking 1970 muscle car out there, and it had some fierce competition. And the best thing about it is that with the fully loaded and equipped XR7, it was the same weight as a ’70 Mustang Boss 429, only weighing about 84lbs less(the 429 had a c.w. of 3560lbs and the XR7 sat at 3476lbs), it looked like it could’ve been a half a tonne less, it just eyed… less, well… chunky! The 1971 redesign was nice and all but I’ve never been a fan of it, personally not being very sold on the buttress grille and the look of the rear quarters where it looks like someone who was hellbent on making it a fastback had to compromise with the person who demanded a notchback, so they met in the middle. Not to mention, the bumper always looked like it was installed upside down or something.
Then of course when the ’73 oil crisis came to knock, they separated the Cougar entirely from the Mustang once and for all, now being closely related to the Mercury Montego/Ford Torino instead of the Mustang. While the Mustang was being opted for scrapping before Lee Iacocca came in to save it by letting it share the Pinto platform, the Cougar fully embraced the ‘luxury compact’ nameplate. It did so all the way through the seventies, being shifted to the Thunderbird/LTD II platform in 1977 which was arguably the most important thing to happen to the Cougar since ’73, cause this would be the sister-model it would be tied to for the rest of its lifespan until 1997. Though once again, it was a strange, yet really cool and unique mash-up of Ford’s greatest hits. It got the Continental tire trunk from the Lincoln Continental, it got to share its body with the Thunderbird and it had all the luxury bits and innovations from all three brands.
And this is where it turns to be a ugly little ducking for a decade or so. While it lost 15 inches in length and damn near half a tonne in weight(900lbs) and got placed onto the Fox platform for the 1980 model year, it joined the ‘adapt and live’ stage it so wildly bucked in 1973. It was still luxurious, it was still quite rapid with the 302 V8 and 255 V8, if you desired for it of course but it just became dreadfully ugly on the exterior. It was a sign of the times, the 1977 oil crisis put a vice grip on the future of the automotive sector in the US and the strategy had shifted to cost efficiency over everything. The car looked like any other 1980s sedan/coupe at the time, it may as well have been a Dodge Aries in Ford drag. Though in ’83 it got changed up drastically once again, this time giving the car its shape it would quite literally perish in. Still, it’s worth mentioning – no kits of these cars exist in the common 1/24th or 1/25th scales, just the ’67-’68 and ’69 kits by AMT and the ’70, ’71-’73 by MPC, that’s it.
The sixth generation Cougar was… well, uniquely styled. It came to be after the previous generation just was utterly hated. Barely any kind words were said about it, and credit to Mercury, they took it to heart and actually went about fixing up the model. Still sitting snug on the Fox platform, it chugged onwards. Being reduced to only two models as time went on, the base LS model which was the ‘fancier’ and ‘luxurious’ of the two while the XR7 was more performance oriented and leaned more to Mustang than Thunderbird in terms of undercarriage get-up. Just like the Mustang, the Cougar had shifted what it actually wanted to be several times but it’s pretty safe to say that by 1988, they settled on what they had so far; LS for luxury, XR7 for speed and no more inbetweener bull. In 1989, they changed the car up and about one last time before it would stay the same until its death, getting rid of the uniquely angled rear windows and making it slightly less chunky by narrowing down the lines quite a bit.
It looked like Revell-Monogram held onto the Ford license by 1990 for a while by that point, having made the ’87 Thunderbird, the ’89 Lincoln Continental Mark VII(though in this supremely strange pro street get-up) and a couple others, so them landing the ’90 Cougar XR7 design isn’t out of the ordinary. And luckily, especially back then, Revell jacked up the detail to a stupendous level. Even the little supercharged script on the fender under the XR7 emblem is there. It’s worth mentioning this again, this kit is 30 years old! It holds up in just about every area in terms of detail to modern day counterparts, in some cases even better. I’ll start with the front and work to the back in reviewing each and every section, just for the sake of really putting this one on a pedestal.
So you get a body kit with this one, as Revell was one to do back in those days. It’s a ungodly ugly, chunky bodykit that replaces the headlights and makes the car look like a gummybear that was left on a car dashboard on a hot summer day, but one can’t complain about choices when it hasn’t adversely impacted the rest of the kit I suppose. The front fascia is supremely detailed, headlight buckets with depth and the grille is separate from the hood which is always a good thing, the whole front axle and power train is detailed up the wazoo; the 3.8L Essex V6 is there in all it’s glory, which I tried to amp up the detail on a little more by wiring up the engine, though I ran out of supplies literally in the middle of it and during the COVID-19 crisis, it’s hard enough to find things online as it is, getting ’em to the Netherlands in under a month from the US is a nigh impossibility now. So I couldn’t wire up the home-made A/C unit I had crafted from some spare parts, so I left it out with the holes bored so I can add ’em when it the wires end up in my mailbox sometime in the next decade or so. Gotta repaint the radiator brace anyway, the paint turned blue from the superglue.
There is a massive problem with the engine bay though, which is unfortunately entirely to blame on Revell making a handful of mistakes. This was a issue on their ’90-’91 Thunderbird SC kit as well which shares the 3.8L V6, the rear duct for the intercooler is supposed to slot in on the back end and worms under the headers, easy peasy you’d think. Well, not so much, there just isn’t room for it to go where it needs to go, making me think that this wasn’t really planned out all too well. The real issue here is that the damn instructions flip-flop on which hose goes where; the air cleaner intake and the intercooler duct have their positions flipped in the first slide, then correct in the second, then incorrect again in the third so you’re left wondering what the fuck you did wrong when it all goes pear shaped. Another thing that doesn’t help is the damn intercooler duct snapping like a twig, but that’s a issue I’ll get to in a moment.
The interior of this kit is arguably the very, very best. Like, Revell was absolutely on it back in the 1990s with their interiors. It’s not only crisp and goes together like a piece of absolute perfection, it’s also super detailed. Every button, every slider, every piece of upholstery, it’s all perfectly detailed. Unfortunately, there’s no decals of any type to accentuate the dashboard(I’m on it, don’t worry, the ’90 and ’92 Cougars will see some love soon), so the dashboard remains bare unless you do some nice paint magic to it. I opted for a gray, light gray, muddy gray interior for a change instead of black on black, the lazyman’s route, thinking it would mesh really nicely with the metallic red(Tamiya TS-95 “Pure Metallic Red”). I found this used ’90 Cougar on the web that had this particular interior, and had a color keyed steering wheel instead of the black which I actually was quite into. Yes I wish the rear seats were separate and I wish the kit had seat belt mounts on the door panels like the modern day Golf kits(man can wish, eh) so the interior would be truly complete, but I was out of seat belt material anyway. Quite literally the only problem I had with the super detailed interior is the pedals, which are just molded on squares and look so jarringly low detail compared to the rest.
The rear end of the car also has some unique touches that I’m fond of, Revell enjoys these really well detailed lights and I for one am a massive fan of this. The super detailed headlights are a good example of this, but the attention given to the rear end shouldn’t go uncredited either. They give you two decals to mimic the striped design, which it does quite well but I wish they had skipped on the red in there so a more reflective substance could shine through but that’s just me. It has nicely detailed raised letters on there that are easy to detail with a marker or brush, plus it slots in really well. The whole kit is actually quite fuss-free bar the engine bay. The suspension is a nice, complex and still simplified to being quite easy to paint and place, again something I’m fond of. I know it’s a shitty excuse but given the chassis is usually the last place you’d look and is the least interesting of the mechanical parts, it’s nice to have a solid level of detail and user friendliness, not some hideously complex tangle of loose plastic bits that all snap in a heartbeat because it can’t handle any pressure for when the wheels go on.
Speaking of which, aha! Remember two paragraphs back when I mentioned my intercooler tube snapped like a twig while placing it? Well, it wasn’t the only bit that snapped. In fact, a lot snapped. See, back in the old days of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, model kit companies were prone to putting their entire kit in one bag. A flimsy, hole filled bag. Pieces would get tangled up, bend, break and so forth. MPC was particularly vile in this respect, as their tires would mate with whatever it was laid against and leave a bold lettered ‘Goodyear’ with tire thread on whatever it was stuck to. Revell did alleviate that by placing the tires and chrome outside of the main bag, but still left roughly 100 pieces ripe for the snappin’. A short list of what snapped; both axles(lost the right one which I had to fix up poorly, hence the leaned stance), intercooler hose, radiator fan and housing, exhaust pipes, front engine mounts on the chassis, air cleaner mount of the chassis, the A-arms and rear window(fortunately in the corner that the body would obscure) and the driveshaft. That’s a heck of a list, and it was not a whole lot of fun to fix but really, it’s just a foible of age. Revell couldn’t have guessed back then that whatever compounds they were taking away or adding(or requesting to at least) that it would turn the whole thing rigid as fuck over the years. Hell, if the snapped plastic wasn’t a pain enough, the whole body was warped, which you can easily see on the window where the A pillar has bend outwards and the front fenders face ever slightly inwards.
That being said though, these kits are absolutely wonderful. I hope to obtain another Thunderbird SC kit someday, re-do it and do it some damn justice for a change unlike my previous attempt. The pre-colored body isn’t so bad either, I liked it so much previously I just clear-coated it and left it as it was! Though it leaves me a bit melancholy too, for the times where model car kit companies would still invest in well, modern cars. But y’know, lamenting doesn’t help. Now onto the future prospects; making some damn decal sets out of it. And answering emails related to those decals. And putting up the article for the Hasegawa ’74 Civic. Oh boy it’s a busy time.
’90 Mercury Cougar XR-7 specifications:
Skill Level: 2
Molded in: Dark Gray/Black(Metallic)