November 22, 2023
Rocky Mountain Way
On September 24, 2023, the annual High River Brian Chipchase Sr. Memorial show was in full swing, hailed as one of the largest events of the year. Amidst the near one thousand vehicles showcased, a spotlight fell on a particular gem—a 1969 Mercury Cougar. This particular model stood out as possibly the rarest among them all, with a history that intertwines seamlessly with Alberta's rich heritage.
The front of the Rocky Mountain Life Mercury Cougar
The most well-documented chapter in the history of these cars unfolds in 1969 when the Rocky Mountain Life Insurance Company commissioned a distinctive fleet of brand-new Mercury Cougars for their sales team. Each Cougar in their fleet sported a unique purple paint, reminiscent of the Canadian $10 bill of the era, exclusively reserved for the insurance company's vehicles. To enhance authenticity, the RML Cougars were not only graced with special colours but also adorned with inventory tags alongside their VIN numbers, setting each car apart with its individual identity.
The rear of the Rocky Mountain Life Mercury Cougar
The fleet acquisition took place through Calgary's Universal Ford dealership, and these distinctive vehicles made their presence felt at events throughout the province of Alberta. While various accounts provide differing figures for the production of these special RML Cougar XR7s, accounts range from 98 to 115 produced, capturing the essence of the unique and limited nature of these specialty pony cars.
A bushel of flowers that sat near the RML Cougar shared similar hues with the bright purple Mercury
Upon the conclusion of their lease in 1970, the Rocky Mountain Cougars found their way back to the Universal Ford dealership. Subsequently, these purple Mercury’s were dispersed to various dealerships across Western Canada. Over the ensuing decades, these cars underwent transformations, sporting new colours and wheels that concealed their original unique purple hues from the factory. For the past two decades, a dedicated group of enthusiasts has undertaken relentless efforts to locate, recover, and meticulously document the history and existence of these Mountain Cats, ensuring their story is shared with the world.
The Universal Ford Calgary dealership emblem still gleams on the RML Cougar
Owned by Robert Nowland, this particular Cougar stands as a testament to his passion for these unique vehicles. Notably, Nowland is also a curator of RMLCougar.com, a website widely recognized as the premier resource for these cars. It holds a stature comparable to renowned websites like the Tucker Torpedo history and registry site, showcasing Nowland's dedication to preserving and sharing the rich history of these exceptional automobiles.
The original XR7 logo
Robert first encountered the 1969 Mercury Cougar RML in British Columbia during the early 2000s, initially with no intention to buy but rather to inspect the car as part of his research. During this initial encounter, the Cougar was cloaked in an icy white camouflage, effectively concealing its origins and the distinctive RML purple paint. Despite this transformation, all the original identifiers, including the inventory tag and factory numbers, remained intact. A few short years later, Robert received a proposition to purchase the Mercury Cougar, and swiftly, he assumed ownership of this historic Albertan icon.
Inside the 1969 Mercury Cougar RML
Commencing the restoration process in the 2010s, Robert undertook the task of returning the vehicle to its original colour through painstaking documentation and meticulous restoration efforts. Regarded as the most precise RML Cougar restoration to date, it faithfully incorporates the exact paint code from the factory. With pride, Robert showcases the automobile, passionately sharing its history with the world and contributing to the recognition of these remarkable luxury muscle cars.
Inside the 1969 Mercury Cougar RML
The Rocky Mountain Life Cougars represent a brief yet remarkable special production, originally serving as fleet vehicles for the sales team at the Rocky Mountain Life Insurance Company. With a minimum of 98 cars leaving the factory adorned in the distinctive paint, their numbers have dwindled over time, making them increasingly rare. Thanks to the remarkable expertise of individuals like Robert and the dedicated team behind the research and preservation efforts, these bright purple muscle cars are gaining well-deserved recognition in the automotive community. Today, they are becoming known as truly special gems to keep an eye out for at shows. Trust me, my jaw hit the pavement as I rounded the corner and laid eyes on this one—a dream ride well worth seeing in person!
The 351 Windsor powers the Mercury Cougar with a light rumble and reliable power everywhere it travels
Until next time, keep your dreams alive, cause you never know when you might catch a glimpse of yours!
The info sign that Robert brings everywhere to tell the tale of this RML Cougar
- Kyle Hanger of Searching For Classics