By on April 1, 2016


car brochure. Shutterstock user Executioner

Sajeev writes:

It’s ironic that as the initial Jaguar story neared publication, I ordered an aftermarket part to complete the (somewhat) light restoration of my 1988 Mercury Cougar XR-7. I mentioned getting “a factory part when buying the aftermarket brand” and nobody had a problem with this assessment.

But you won’t believe what happens next in this shameful attempt at clickbait…  


The most readily available and cheapest part was from AutoZone under their Duralast house brand. No surprise there, I guess.

But what came out of the box was a pleasant surprise: the more expensive Ford part with a legit FoMoCo part number! Choosing aftermarket on my Cougar isn’t living dangerously, as a Ford Fox chassis is a far less fussy feline than a Jaguar S-Type. But still, it proves my point about the “quality” of aftermarket parts.


Every time I depress the clutch and twist the ignition, I will remember the factory switch that came from a low-brow box.

[Images: Shutterstock user Executioner; Parts, © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars]

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31 Comments on “Piston Slap: The Cat’s Meow for OEM or Aftermarket Parts? (Part II)...”

  • avatar


    My mom had a 1987 Mercury Cougar LS with all the options. My first car that didn’t have hand-wind windows (all my uncles had Mercury Capris)

    It was Maroon (Wine Burgundy) and very powerful.

    Her next cool car was a Mercury Cougar XR7 1993. V6 instead of a V8 this time. She constantly complained that the car felt lighter and less substantial. Gas back then was less than $1.25 so no one really cared about a V8 over a V6.


    Not my fault really. Taxi cab making an illegal U-turn.

    Ended up upgrading later to a 2002 Ford Expedition because by then, they’d made the Cougar a tiny, Euro-looking econo-car.

    I’d like to see them modernize the car – but it won’t happen.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Funny she felt the 93 MN12 based car was less substantial. The chief knock on that platform was that it was a pig. I had a 95, an 88, and a 68. The 88 was my favorite though I would have liked a sportier version than my beige, column shifted V6 model. Ideally I would have liked the 88 Turbo Coupe drivetrain complete with T5 manual in the 88 XR-7 body.

  • avatar

    daughter works in GM facility N. of Cinci.
    she repacks other’s mfg’d. components in ” genuine GM ” dress

    • 0 avatar

      if they’re from the OE supplier then I don’t see what your problem is.

      • 0 avatar


        • 0 avatar

          Ethics, standards, legality as well.

          • 0 avatar

            oh come on. if e.g. Lear designs a part to GM specs, gets production approval from GM, ships that part into GM assembly plants, how is it somehow “unethical” for them to put it in a box labeled “Genuine GM” and ship it to dealers as a service part?

            some of you take being unreasonable to a whole new level.

          • 0 avatar

            Nothing unethical or illegal about having a supplier make parts for you. Fact is that huge numbers of OE parts are from outside suppliers.

          • 0 avatar

            Yup. Not uncommon at all to rebrand auto parts. I have seen it happen multiple times – they will send the parts from store inventory back to the warehouse, where they unbox the parts and rebox them, with new branding and part numbers, and then send the same parts back to the stores.

          • 0 avatar

            We’ve got a parts supplier for Honda around here as well.

          • 0 avatar

            @ redmondjp, that is different. It was frequently done when a store changed lines, everthing was fine except when the cross referencing was not right or when they switched to a quality brand after problems with a cheapo brand and the new supplier chose to rebox the crap rather than scrap it.

            Now it is more common to destory the parts, often on site and dispose of them. I know a guy that was a sales man for Carter and what he would do when they would do a switch over is take a hat pin and poke a hole in the diaphragm through the weep hole.

            I also know when my friend switched to being a NAPA store they showed up with a dumpster and replaced his stock with NAPA stuff and all his stock went in the dumpster.

  • avatar

    This used to be very common in the 1970’s , especially with Chrysler suppliers ~ we’d buy no brand things that came in plain white boxes and get left overs or contract over run original parts .


  • avatar

    Hi Sajeev, it appears that you have the Ford redundant third pedal on your vehicle.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    My buddy had one of those gen Cougars with a stick and turbo 4. It was a “FILA” edition. FILA still around? Anyways, pretty dang nice car at the time.

    I bought an air compressor for my ’07 LTZ Chevie ‘Hoe off Amazon last fall and you could not tell a difference in any way between it and the original corroded mess I pulled off the truck. One of GM’s better designs to put the electric compressor for the rear air shocks right behind a wheel where it can get sandblasted with road salt all winter.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Remember FILA edition T-Birds of the ’84-85 era (we had one) but not the Cougar? The FILA edition was supposed to be an upmarket, limited run, ‘go faster’ model. It came with a sport bag with some FILA labelled swag. Generally in pearl white.

    • 0 avatar

      The window sword-cut line on these Cougars always put me off. I much prefer the more formal look of the Mark.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve heard it referred to as “half moon”, I’m not sure if this was the LM name for it or not.

        • 0 avatar

          I always thought it (along with the square rear glass) gave the Cougar more of a gangster look, like the G body Cutlass and Regal, although not to their degree.

          • 0 avatar

            I’ve owned both an ’83 Cougar (no AC, crank windows, light blue, white walls) and an ’84 Regal (white w/brown Landau top, “LeMans” raised white letter tires), bought from old ladies in mid-90’s. Drove them for a few years each, spent a weekend detailing them and sold the to young Hispanic males for a profit. If I could have located the inventory, I could have made some nice coin on the side doing this…

  • avatar

    Yup. One time at Autozone I received a hib assembly with a duralast sticker on one side and a AC delco sticker on the top. Have also seen parts with a dorman sticker on one side and a duralast on the other. And lastly, on calipers wiper motors, if you peel off the duralast/whatever sticker there is an A1 card one or other manufacturer sticker underneath. I also have seen MANY OE branded parts in aftermarket boxes, and most house brands like that are actually Moog or another supplier rebranded. I manage commercial parts sales so I see this a lot.

  • avatar

    I would say though this is the exception rather than the rule.

    Most “house brands” at places like AutoZone will have a junky Chinese made part. Sometimes, however a deal can be struck with an over run from the factory and it’s cheaper to simply rebox an OEM part. If you can figure out when this happens, it’s a great deal vs the dealer markup.

    Also, a “factory” part is not what it used to be. When you bought something like AC Delco years ago, it was almost always exactly what was on the new GM car originally and held to a higher set of tolerances. Now, the “factory” part is something that has been outsourced to an entirely new manufacturer once the car is no longer made, but with the factory labels and sold in a dealership. You’d be amazed how many AC Delco parts now are made in China, yet these parts were not made in China when the car was sold as new.

    • 0 avatar

      Dad’s 1982 Celebrity ate the alternator around the 120,000 mile mark, went through two cheap a$$ replacements before he bought the “Genuine GM” part. That alternator lasted another 100,000 miles as the rest of the car continued to disintegrate around the engine and transmission.

    • 0 avatar

      Bought factory spark plugs for a GM car. They said AC Delco all over the Red, white and Blue boxes.

      On the bottom, in small black block letters. “product of Germany”. Looked just like the Bosch plugs that came out of the engine.

  • avatar

    I once owned a 1987 AUDI 5000 Quatro Turbo, wonderful car and I had very good reliability from it. It did have an erratic blower motor speed controller and I was able to find the problem easily. It needed a new controller module; I went to AUDI and it was around #$750.00. When I balked at the price for a ittle plug in finned aluminum part the parts guy said try GM. The Audi A/C system has AC delco written all over it. Closer examination showed that the interior control panel was the same as my buddys Seville withought the plastic chrome and walnut. Went to the GM dealer got the same part for $123.00 Only difference was the brown Audi box, or the Blue and white GM box, the part you throw away.

  • avatar

    When you order something from RockAuto, it will be like a box of chocolates. You never now what youare going to get.

    Want to live dangerously? Order one of their manufacturers closeouts…

  • avatar


    I’m a Tbird, Cougar fan from birth! Ive had probably a dozen of different models and Vintage ,but my two favorites were a 1978 Sport in midnight blue with saddle tan(read baby poop brown) interior and T-tops! It also had a had a factory tach and gauges which was almost unheard of in this era. The second was an 88 Turbo Coupe 5pd in thay beautiful Fomoco burgundy. I bought this one from the original owner in 97 with only 47k on the clock. It looked like it had been in a time capsule! Sadly i was tempted by a ’99 Wrangler with only 3k on it and a zealous car dealer that wanted my car badly. (Sigh) Such are the trials and tribulations in the life of a car guy. (Grin)

  • avatar

    I have one of those Fox cars.

    Has some aftermarket parts as well.

  • avatar

    Aftermarket parts can be like some German sourced BMW parts, the same but a dremel tool cut off the BMW logo.

    I got some discs from Centric and pads for one car…exact as the OE part coming off…not close, the same part….

    Bosch makes replacement parts for everything, but the quality can vary.

    I’ve also been bit with shock mounts from China in one car-rubber bits aren’t just black and rubber-folks make whole careers about rubber hysteresis . I always try for, if you can get the info, the OE supplier, and if not, suck it up and OE. I hate though how that OE part, without the BMW logo dremeled off, in a fancy white box, is twice the price, though

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Back when I owned my 87 T-Bird 3.8 I figured the ignition module that is mounted on the side of the distributor would eventually be an issue due to excessive heat. I knew other Ford owners who had to replace them. So I ordered one from JC Whitney as a spare. It was in a box that looked like a Motorcraft package but without the lettering and was made in S. Korea. The part looked like the original but without the Motorcraft and Ford logos moulded into the plastic case. When the original unit went bad at around 100k I replaced it only lasted for a bit over a year. Then I replaced it with a genuine Ford Motorcraft part which lasted several years until I sold the car at 187k due to a bad head gasket.

    With my 95 MN-12 4.6 I only use genuine Ford or Motorcraft parts even the battery which is actually a better deal from the dealer that your local auto parts store. They usually have specials. Though recently I replaced the belt tensioner with a new and improved part from Dayton made of course in Dayton, Ohio.

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