In 1962, Ford debuted the Cougar I concept - the first in a three car series of concepts named the ‘X-cars'. At the time, the first car was named the Cougar 406. This first concept car was meant to illustrate ideas for the next Ford Thunderbird. It featured Mercedes 300 SL-type gullwing doors, and was originally painted in Candy Apple Red. The car was unveiled at the 1962 Chicago Auto Show. It was more of a far-reaching vision than a pre-production preview.
The next year, Ford showed the other two concepts. Both were designed by Eugene Bordinat, the head of Ford Styling at the time. The first was a roadster, which developed the moniker of the 'Bordinat Cobra.' The other one, a coupe, was called the 'Cougar II.’ Neither received much fanfare. Not much was known about either car beyond the fact that they were concept cars, and were never intended for actual production, despite looking very much like they were pre-production grade builds.
The Bordinat Cobra, which was legitimately named the XP Cobra, was the first coil-spring chassis Cobra. Just like the Carroll Shelby version, power was from a 289 High-Performance engine, but the more touring-centric concept was mated to a C4 automatic transmission. The engine was set farther back in the frame in order to clear the low hood line.
The body of the Bordinat Cobra was vacuum-formed out of a new (for the time) plastic material called Royalex, developed by U.S. Royal. Rumor had it that three bodies had been molded; one used for this car, with the other two unaccounted for.
The final car of the series was the Cougar II. It was a two-passenger GT-grade sports car that appeared to be direct competition for the Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray. The Cougar II had a very similar fastback roof, concealed 'pop-up' headlights, and a fully instrumented interior - just like the Corvette.
If the visuals weren’t enough to show the similarities, the Cougar II had a fiberglass body, a 260 High-Performance engine and a four-speed manual transmission. The high-performance 260 cubic-inch V8 engine was theoretically capable of pushing the Cougar II to an estimated top speed of 170 miles per hour.
One really novel feature of the concept was that when interior air pressure exceeded 15 pounds per square inch, a relief panel across the rear of the passenger compartment would automatically open. The purpose of this panel was to relieve the extreme pressure that would be caused at high speeds, which could have resulted in the rear window being blown out. Another feature to the car was a spring-loaded window-lift mechanism to the curved side windows.
The second two cars were arguably the more beautiful of the three X-Cars, but ultimately seemed to not be very influential in terms of styling for Ford.