XR7S and XR7S Inspired Taillight Bars

I have started this thread topic because there seems to be a lot of interest in one of styling treatments that never seems to have made it onto any 1st generation production Cougars, the XR7S rear taillight bars. I’m starting this thread to document what I know and in hopes that other Cougar enthusiasts will add information accordingly to help shed light on this great styling feature. I personally like the XR7S taillight bars that I made a set for my 1968 Cougar convertible conversion.

So lets start with a picture of the Cougar that started it all, the Cougar XR7S:

During the last quarter of 1966 black and white photos were issued by the factory introducing the XR-7S. Sadly the XR7S never made it into production but some of it’s styling features did on the 1968 Cougar GT-E. The silver two-tone argent paint scheme, unique side moldings and front grille bars. Henry Ford II had an XR7S and drove it until it was sold as a used car to a Ford employee. The car was last shown in public in 1980. A member of the Classic Cougar Community knows the identity of the owner and he knows location of this rare Cougar.

The taillight bars of the XR7S prototype. This Cougar in fact had taillight bars and it’s believed that this Cougar was a clay studio model. Note the lack of a trunk lock, side mirrors and rear fender extension seams.

HFII’s XR7S as stated earlier was last shown in public in 1980. In the photo below HFII’s Cougar clearly has the taillight bars. I don’t want to cast doubt on these bars but there appears to be photos of HFII’s license plates being on a Cougar XR7S article but it seems that there are no taillight bars visible in the article photo showing the rear of the Cougar. Maybe the bars are not visible because of the low resolution of the photo. If anyone has a higher resolution photo of the article showing the taillight bars can you please post it?

The former Mustangs Unlimited Cougar GT-E. The special and rare Cougar was falsely branded as a rebodied Cougar for many years. Photo evidence has come to light from the current owner showing sheet metal date codes and VIN number stamping’s that shows in fact that it’s is a real Cougar GT-E. This special Cougar GT-E also has a set of taillight bars. Now it’s not exactly clear how these bars came to be or ended up on this Cougar but one thing is for sure, they exist and have been photographed as much as possible without damaging them. It can also be noted that this GT-E has what appears to be a truck latch emblem that never made it to production, a “walking Cougar”. The only other Cougar to have this emblem is Cougar #1 and during it’s restoration the lone example was found in a designers file cabinet and later installed on Cougar #1 to bring it back to concurs correct.

Steven Dara’s Taillight Bars. As stated earlier I personally like the XR7S taillight bars so much that I made a set for my 1968 Cougar convertible conversion. I’m sure that my Cougar will never get confused with it’s taillight grille bars being genuine Ford “pre production” parts. My convertible conversion is my tribute to the designers of the Mercury Cougar. I have fabricated many one off pieces to reflect my “what if Mercury had done this” with the 1st generation Cougar. I will post a DYI on how I did my XR7S inspired taillight bars as this thread grows.

So here we have it. As of this writing there are three Cougars known to have taillight bars. I hope to learn more as this thread progresses.

Great thread! What would be a good price for a pair of these?

If you notice in the photo of the XR7S the bar ends at the last vertical whereas the GT-E bar extends slightly past it.

Thanks Bill. I have very little money tied up in my taillight bars. I’m a fabricator by nature and when I’m off duty from the fire department I work in the construction field so I used material I had on hand at the time in our fab shop. I have been contacted by a few members about making some or doing a DYI. Mine are thinner in depth than the red GT-E’s. I used a material called alumacore. It is aluminum wrapped plastic sheeting. Before Rob posted the photos I was sure the ones on the red GT-E were removable and that turned out to be the case. My bars are not removable. I adhered them with a black latex weather proof adhesive. Once dry the bars look like they are part of the grilles. I guess my bars could be removed but that would take a little effort on my part. The red reflective material is made by 3M and is engineer grade vinyl (which is used for highway traffic signs). It’s a pretty straight forward process to make them and I’m surprised more people haven’t done so. I also made my front headlight grille bars as to match the prototype XR7S grille bars that look thinner than standard GT-E grille bars.

I spoke to one of my metal suppliers Thursday and we quickly flipped through his extruded aluminium supply book and saw different stock that could work for the taillight bars. I think the largest cost involved is setting/making the jig for the relief cuts for each rib of the grille assembly. I feel confident that a set could be made for $150, the total cost would have to figure in the ROI before setting a retail price.


That is correct. The other difference between the bars is that on the XR7S they appear chrome where as the red GT-E and mine are black.


I have a source for extruded aluminium that is very close to the bars on the red GT-E. I have laid out the measurements to fabricate a jig for the the rib cuts on each bar. Once I get a set or two complete I will figure my total cost which I feel will be fair. I am going to send out two sets to be test fitted by Classic Cougar Community board members for an unbiased opinion as to the quality of the bars before I sell any. I will keep everyone updated on the progress.


Fantastic! Will they be all black?

I like the black but a polished set might not look bad either.

Just to note if it hasn’t been already, but the vertical grill bars on the XR7S are chrome.
I’m not sure which would look better, polished rears to match the front horizontal bars or
black ones to match the black GT-E taillight covers.

Steven - If you go ahead and make these, which would be great, is there a way to make them removable?

Bill I’m thinking I will be able to do both. I have a sample piece that I’m going to try working with when I have some down time, I don’t want to take up family time. The sample piece I have is 3/8" wide but has a polished finish. Here is a picture reflecting yellow caution tape on the shelf in our work shop. Not the best picture but it gives everyone an idea.
Bar Sample .jpg

Gary the way I mounted my taillight bars will leave the grille ribs unmolested. I could remove them with a little work. Now doing something for a quick removal for a Cougar like yours will take a little thought on my part. I’m sure I can come up with something that won’t require drilling the ribs. I just have to put on my thinking cap. :smiley:


Maybe a small improvement on the deal would be to lay in a strip of LEDs tied into the park and/or brake circuit.

I’m building a set using these as indicators and backup lights



Very cool Leon. Have you started yet do you have any pictures?


I have only tested the light strips (shorter ones taped across light bars) and found some extrusion that should work. I need to get find a cover for the strips as they need better UV protection and an efficient way to notch the extrusion. I’ll try and do another test with them taped on in a couple of weeks

They are going on the 69, which starts a tear down and rebuild in October. Should be back on the road around March next year

Project Plan for refresh is already at 195 tasks

It sounds like a cool project for your ‘69. I’m sure it will turn out well with your skills.

If the board members don’t want to test fit them I’ll be happy to do it :slight_smile:
Are you talking fronts or rears or both that your going to make up?

The rear taillight bars only. I did my own front bars for a style similar to the XR7S. The front bars are already available through several vendors.


Wow, great info and nice work on the taillight bars. Not sure I’d want them, though as they’d just be another place for snow to pile up. Are fender mounted mirrors next?