Mercury Cougar – Zebulon, North Carolina - Atlas Obscura

Mercury Cougar

Zebulon, North Carolina

A giant cat slowly prowls the parking lot of Zebulon's car dealerships. 

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When driving down Gannon Avenue, don’t be shocked to see a giant, snarling cougar looming over the horizon.

The cougar was manufactured by a company that had previously created giants for Disney. Two identical cats were made, one that went to North Carolina and another that went to Washington D.C. They were part of a promotional stunt for Ford, which was advertising its Mercury Cougar series. The cougars, which stood about two stories tall, sat atop Lincoln-Mercury dealerships, beckoning car-buying customers with a ferocious snarl.

This particular cat was placed atop the Leith Lincoln-Mercury dealership in 1972. It remained up there for several decades until the dealership closed, at which point it was removed. Locals assumed the cat was gone for good until it mysteriously reappeared in front of Howden Classic Cars.

The cougar is tended by its original owner, Mike Leith, who managed the Mercury dealership. The car dealership is now closed, but the cougar still stands. Mike and other Zebulon natives feel fondly towards the cougar, an emblem of their town for more than 50 years.

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