Junkyard Find: 1982 Mercury Cougar GS Two-door Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
The Mercury Cougar went through numerous platform and image changes during its 34 years of production, and I’ve managed to document examples of just about all of those changes during the course of my junkyard journeys. One generation of Cougar that remained a tough one to find, however, was the 1980-1982 fifth-generation cat, the first of the Fox-body Cougars and the boxiest of the bunch.Finally, I discovered this green-on-green-on-some-more-green ’82 GS two-door sedan in a California self-service yard — yet another vehicle sure to result in many bitter tears from my Ford-obsessed colleague, Sajeev Mehta.
The GS sat at the bottom of the Cougar prestige totem pole in 1982, and the two-door sedan was the cheapest GS that year.
The MSRP on this very green machine started at $7,983, which amounts to about $21,775 in 2019 dollars. Meanwhile, Ford shoppers could get the nearly-identical Fairmont Futura two-door for $6,619.
$6,619 was the price for the six-cylinder Fairmont, though; the Pinto-engined version cost a mere $5,985. The 1982 Cougar had no four-cylinder engine available; instead, buyers could choose between a 200-cubic-inch (3.3-liter) straight-six rated at 87 horsepower or a 3.8-liter V6 good for 112 horses. If you wanted a Cougar with a V8 that year, you needed to get the upscale XR-7, which could be purchased with the 255-cubic-inch (4.2-liter) eight and its 120 horsepower. This car has the “Thriftpower” straight-six, which later served as the basis for the four-cylinder HSC engine used in Tempos and poverty-spec Tauruses. As far as I can tell, all 1982 Cougars came with automatic transmissions.
If you like green plastic, green velour-influenced fabric, and unashamedly fake wood trim, you’ll love this car’s interior. It’s in very nice condition, suggesting that it spent most of its life pampered in a garage.
Look, it even has the optional clock! I didn’t buy this clock for my collection, because I knew I’d destroy the crumbly, fragile instrument-cluster plastic in the process and I wanted to leave it intact for Bay Area Fox-body parts shoppers.
Starting in 1983, the Cougar went back to being unabashedly sporty, with the station wagon and four-door versions axed forever and the two-doors becoming proper coupes.
Lincoln-Mercury dealers offered a New Economic Policy on option packages!
Of course, the XR-7 Fox Cougar came with 64-percent better MPG (than the enormous 1975 version) and 100-percent more snarling mountain lions than the non-XR-7.Want more Junkyard Finds? You’ll find links to better than 1,800 of them at the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.
Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Dec 31, 2019

    Having driven a couple of Fairmounts I would judge the Cougars, Thunderbirds, and Granadas as being the worst examples of the early 80s and that their aero 83s as being the breath of fresh air and salvation of Ford along with the Taurus and the Sable. The midsize GMs of 82 were a much better car than this guished up version of a Fairmont. This was the worst of Ford and is best to be forgotten and left to the junkyard.

    • See 3 previous
    • DenverMike DenverMike on Jan 02, 2020

      @ponchoman49 The Fox platform was just ahead its time, even if 70's clunkers offered more pillowy comfort and isolation from the road. So did big '60s Continentals and Caddys. Progress comes at a cost. Except when GM did catch up, no more RWD midsize sedans or coupes for you. Can you say "Torque Steer!" GM didn't have an answer to the Fox T-Bird/Cougar or Mark VII, which sold a ton, deep into the '80s. But I guess you could've consoled yourself with the Celebrity (EUROSPORT!!!) or Beretta GT!

  • Doug Goehring Doug Goehring on Feb 25, 2023

    identical to the one we had, but ours came with cruise control.

  • 2manyvettes Tadge was at the Corvette Corral at the Rolex 24 hour sports car race at the end of January 2023. During the Q&A after his remarks someone stood up and told him "I will never buy an electric Corvette." His response? "I will never sell you an electric Corvette." Take that Fwiw.
  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon
  • Alan My comment just went into the cloud.I do believe its up to the workers and I also see some simplistic comments against unionisation. Most of these are driven by fear and insecurity, an atypical conservative trait.The US for a so called modern and wealthy country has poor industrial relation practices with little protection for the worker, so maybe unionisation will advance the US to a genuine modern nation that looks after its workers well being, standard of living, health and education.Determining pay is measured using skill level, training level and risk associated with the job. So, you can have a low skilled job with high risk and receive a good pay, or have a job with lots of training and the pay is so-so.Another issue is viability of a business. If you have a hot dog stall and want $5 a dog and people only want to pay $4 you will go broke. This is why imported vehicles are important so people can buy more affordable appliances to drive to and from work.Setting up a union is easier than setting up work conditions and pay.
  • El scotto I can get the speedometer from dad's 72 Ford truck back. I can't get dad back.