I f you looked for a Lincoln-Mercury dealer in the late 1960s, 1970s and a bit beyond, you looked for the “Sign of the Cat.” Advertising let you know that it was where you found the Mercury Cougar and the rest of the lineup.
The size, shape and market segment of the Cougar changed several times, but the “Sign of the Cat” theme didn’t change.
TV commercials featured several forms of the cougar mascot, from a live cat to a Trojan horse-like structure used in a spot for the 1978 models. It featured a 45-foot long cougar, constructed of steel and plywood.
The 4 ton cougar had a steel frame and body of plywood. It was designed by artist Janice Flatling and constructed by Serrurier and Lofthouse of Pasadena, Calif., creator of several Rose Bowl Parade floats. It took five weeks to complete and was powered by a small, unidentified car for the commercial.
The top of the cat’s head was more than 20 feet off the ground and below it was a door the new models would be driven through. It was all to promote the mid-year Anniversary Editions that were to go on sale in January 1978, coinciding with Ford Motor Co.’s 75th anniversary.
So when the filming started, what kind of Cougar was driven out of the cat?
Well, none. The Anniversary Editions were of the Mercury Marquis and Monarch. Sorry, no Cougars this time around, save for the giant wooden prop.