Since its introduction in 1977, the Kougar Sports has represented the opportunity for enthusiasts to acquire a traditionally styled sportscar, reminiscent of a Healey Silverstone, built using relatively modern automotive technology. Beautifully finished and necessarily very expensive (over $6,000 at launch) the Sports was originally based on Jaguar S-Type components, with Rover's V8 becoming a power-plant option in the 1980s, but was subsequently offered in Jaguar XJ6-based form only. The chassis was a tubular spaceframe, around which was wrapped door-less, two-seater coachwork in glassfibre. Whether constructed in six- or eight-cylinder form, the lightweight Kougar possesses formidable acceleration and affords owners an involving and exciting driving experience.
This must be one of the best known examples in this country, for it was bought new by long term Road and Track Editor, Tony Hogg and was later owned by the automotive icon himself David E. Davis Jr. If one puts this into context, these guys had quite literally the opportunity to drive virtually any car through the '70s and '80s and yet both chose to have this car in their stables.
David E. had been fascinated by the Kougar from its debut, as to him it captured the essence of the sports racing cars of the 1950s. When his friend Hogg had bought this one it only served to further peak his interest and he had apparently "quizzed him about it, endlessly". Sadly Tony Hogg died in 1983, but by '86 the curiosity just got the better of Davis so he acquired the car from his widow.
There are many words written about these great cars, but David E.'s Road & Track article written during his ownership probably has the best sound bites you'll find anywhere. In an article sub-captioned "No, ma'am. It is not a Mercury. It is a Kougar. With a K! It will separate your retinas," he sums the car up perfectly: "it has no top, no windshield, wipers, no doors, no seat adjustment, no sound-deadening insulation of any kind, no radio, no heater (not that it needs one) and no fuel gauge. It is just about perfect. . . The great whomping engine note is the best sound this side of E. Power Biggs playing Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor . . . The handling and road holding are up to modern standards, and the car has no quirks – you drive it as though it were just a regular automobile, and it rewards you with a memorable ride every time."
From Davis the car has passed through a number of other appreciative hands and remains on the button and ready to have fun with. All told only 15,000 miles have been accumulated over the course of the 35 years since its build date, but you can bet that almost every one of them provided the driver with a grin from ear to ear.