By on December 30, 2019

1982 Mercury Cougar in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe 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.

1982 Mercury Cougar in California junkyard, GS badge - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe GS sat at the bottom of the Cougar prestige totem pole in 1982, and the two-door sedan was the cheapest GS that year.

1982 Mercury Cougar in California junkyard, hood ornament - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe 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.

1982 Mercury Cougar in California junkyard, engine - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars$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.

1982 Mercury Cougar in California junkyard, front seats - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIf 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.

1982 Mercury Cougar in California junkyard, gauges - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsLook, 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.

1982 Mercury Cougar in California junkyard, decklid badge - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsStarting 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™.

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56 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1982 Mercury Cougar GS Two-door Sedan...”


  • avatar
    RedRocket

    These (along with its twin, the Ford Granada) were such sad cars from a sad era at Ford. Obviously just a tarted-up Fairmont with very little effort taken to differentiate it from the original. Even the dashboard shape betrays its humble origins with only some minor differentiation in what they stuck in the openings. Ford couldn’t even be bothered to metal-finish the roof/C-pillar seam, but hadn’t yet discovered the filler strip either. On top of it all these were the most malaise-ish cars of that era, offering extremely underpowered engines no matter what choice you made. At best you could say they had nice seats and a good hood ornament. It’s a wonder they sold as many as they did, which wasn’t a lot.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      You took the words right out of my mouth, the 80s were a sad time at Ford, this and the Thunderbird were pathetic glimmers of their former selves, but all was not lost with broughamfication in full swing auto makers were able to cover up these sad little offerings with landau roofs and opera windows

      • 0 avatar

        “the 80s were a sad time at Ford”

        Thats not true. Ford in 80s made massively popular Taurus/Sable blockbusters, aero-Thunderbird which challenged BMW, Continental among other things.

        • 0 avatar

          I agree, Ford had some cutting-edge stuff in the 80s, and was on fuel injection well before the other three.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Should have said EARLY 80s, my bad :(

            Geez, you guys are picky

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Big question is what happened to Ford? Mid/late Eighties brought some good stufff – Taurus, Mark VII, T-Bird Turbo Coupe, Mazda Escorts, Lincoln LS to name a few…but once they sniffed the SUV scent, everything else in their portfolio collapsed.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            1. Things weren’t really as good as they seemed. Most of their ‘good’ products of the time were dressed up Fairmonts. The turbo engines were due for abortion. The first Escort was one of the weakest products in its segment. The Tempo was worse. Whatever lightning in a bottle created the first Taurus, it escaped before the second one.

            2. I’ll nominate whatever management regime got them involved with Jaguar and Land Rover. Suddenly Lincolns became Buick competitors. The Lincoln MKVIII was a styling flop with an interior that made my SC400’s seem inspired, and it was based on a platform that was mysteriously inefficient. Then there was the Lincoln LS/Jaguar S-type, which was under-engineered. The Jaguar had traditional Jaguar reliability while the Lincoln seemed cut rate.

            3. The Explorer showed just how little their customers really cared about quality of engineering in case they’d forgotten since the first Mustang and Continental MKIII, the cars that ended the US reign as the world’s premiere manufacturer of cars.

            4. CAFE meant that the market was shuffled out of expensive to develop and tough to amortize cars and into modular F150s. Why spend money trying to fight over little hills when you can nuke the continent?

          • 0 avatar

            By 1990s Ford become the most profitable auto company in the world. That’s from near collapse of early 80s. Of course it would not be a Ford if they did not waste all cash on “Crown Jewels” instead of on developing new cars.

          • 0 avatar
            ponchoman49

            Technically GM had fuel injection well before Ford did starting in 1974 as an option on it’s larger line of Cadillac cars and on all 1975-79 Sevilles. Digital Fuel injection was also std on the 368 as used in the Seville and Eldorado for 1980. Lincoln also used the same basic throttle body injection on it’s 302 equipped Lincolns but the 351 cars remained VV carbs for 80/81. GM also has cross fire injection on the 1982 Corvette and then on the 1982 Camaro/Firebird when equipped with the 305 Cross Fire motor and all 2.5 Tech IV’s has throttle body the same year. The following year the J-body 2.0 joined in FI. Also note that the Cadillac 4100 line was all fuel injected. Ford in contrast didn’t start making throttle body volume until 1983 on the 302 and 1984 on the 3.8 Essex engine. The Tempo didn’t get it until 1985 and the Escort a year later.

            Chrysler also had a throttle body engine in 1981 but it was only the Imperial and a few years later started using it on certain 2.2 engines.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      “A tarted up Fairmont” sounds good to me! That’s all the Mustang was and swashbuckling Z-7 fast roof.

      We can all sit back and snicker now, but what were the better choices in that class, that year?

      “Yeah but ’82”, I know, know, calm down. By the end of the year the ’83 “Aerobird” and similar Cougars were out, and they did have the honest 302 V8 available, plus their looks were way ahead of anything else out at the time, in their class or similar.

      The ’82 Mustang was gifted back the real 5.0 “High Output” (4.9) with 157 hp and 200+ Tq, but no such luck for the other ’82 Foxes.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        A Foxbody Mustang was one thing, but then Ford built EVERYTHING Foxbody from the basic Fairmont all the way up until you got to the Panther and did very little to disguise it. I know Chrysler did the same with the K-car and my feeling toward them was the same. The Malaise was in full swing :(

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Had the Fox Mustang landed as a ’78 and the first Fairmont/Zepher a’79, it would’ve been those (and following Foxes) that ripped off the Mustang/Capri.

          But the platform served Ford well, for example transitioning from a Maverick or Torino to the Tempo and Taurus. Plus the Mark VII, T-Bird and Conti made excellent use of the “Fox”.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            The Fox platform WAS good, it’s the hideous bodies they put on it that was the problem. The prior generation Thunderbird and Cougar were beautiful cars compared to these oddball, out of proportion cars. The same with the K-car being used as the basis of all things including the Imperial. They were cheap insults to their predecessors

          • 0 avatar
            Superdessucke

            This is sad I agree but the “Boss was Back” in 1982, which more than made up for this dreck.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    At first I was thinking this was the car that Paul Kersey drove in Death Wish 2, but that was the weird 2-door Mercury Marquis – at least according to IMCDb.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Does the “R-12” scribbled on the fender indicate the type A/C system refrigerant?

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Still better looking than an 82 Thunderbird. The only one of this short lived generation of Fox body that I’ve ever seen in real life was down the street from the first house I ever bought. I never saw the owner, I assumed it was an elderly shut-in with a 82 Thunderbird in white with a red landau roof.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      My brother had a T-bird of that vintage – it was an eyesore, and unbelievably slow. One day, he got distracted by a gaggle of geese, and unintentionally went off road (proving you don’t need a smartphone to be a dangerously distracted driver). The T-bird ended up written off my the insurance company, which was definitely a mercy killing.

      He ended up with a Cutlass Supreme, which he dubbed his “climate controlled bubble.”

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        ” One day, he got distracted by a gaggle of geese, and unintentionally went off road”

        People went to great lengths and made outrageous excuses to get rid of those Thunderbirds. 2 points to your brother for originality

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          He was DEFINITELY an original. After Dad got tired of him flunking out of college on his buck (twice, as a matter of fact), he decided to go back, and financed it mainly by skimming every nickel he could from the gas station he worked at. His favorite hustle was tire patches – five bucks apiece, right into his pocket. He more or less made that place into his own lower-middle-class fiefdom, which I think the owner knew, but he was great with customers, so he looked the other way. We never saw eye to eye, but the man knew how to run a hustle.

          Gone too soon, unfortunately…

    • 0 avatar
      macmcmacmac

      You need to look up the Sloppy Mechanics hijinks with the Fairmont, a junkyard LS, and a cheap Ebay turbo kit.

  • avatar
    millmech

    Pat on Back for not making instrument cluster worse. Looks cracked alredy

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I thought so too, but looking at the pictures again it was the turn signal stalk that appears just right to give the appearance of cracks. Of course there may be others I don’t see.

  • avatar

    I love all the wood trim, even if it looks fake. The price jump over the Fairmont is comedy-level badge engineering.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I assume the Mercury Zephyr was cheaper? (If you wanted your Fairmont to be wearing “M” badges…)

      I saw a burnt umber Zephyr in the church parking lot roughly a half dozen years ago but it was a one time sighting.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Are those power seat controls between the front seats? I can’t recall ever seeing that setup, but it would point to a higher level of equipment than one typically encountered in a Fairmont.

      A friend had a 1982 4-door Granada with a similar front clip to this car. It had next to no mileage and had spent its five years garaged. I asked to drive it, primarily because it was a rare 4-speed manual domestic sedan. With the 2.3 liter engine, it was an unusual combination of quiet and slow. There was no shortage of slow cars on the road in the ’80s, but most of them were air cooled VWs, industrial-sounding diesels, or what used to be called marginal European imports. The Granada’s lack of NVH combined with an inability to climb hills felt really odd.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        The power seat controls between the seats were a “high-end” FMC feature for a while.

        The bustle-back Continentals of the 80s had them, only was weird to me because it looked like the car had a bench seat until you realized that no one could sit there because of the controls.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        The Fairmont and Zephyr had base bench or buckets.
        Those center armrest slots as part of the split bench in the Granada and Cougar were for storage. I think they had indentations for coins, tokens and cassettes.
        On the upmarket XR-7 and Thunderbird as well as the all new bustleback Continental the power seat controls were inserted there.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Yeah my 88 Cougar had them, between the seats. Windows too IIRC

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Back then, I discovered that the 255 drivetrain was incapable of spinning the tires *in reverse* while the car was pointed downhill. A sad time, indeed.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It had plenty of power to do smoky sideways burnouts, but 3.50:1 gears and a limited slip would be the minimum. Sadly these probably came with 2.42s and definitely open riffs.

      4.10s and the 4.2 V8 would’ve smoked just about everything “stock” from the era.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      We sold a very clean low mileage 1982 T-Bird with the then top 255 V8 factory rated for 111 HP and 205 torque and the required 4 speed overdrive transmission and 3.08 rear gears. All tuned up it wasn’t as slow as many here are claiming and it would break the rear tire loose with your foot in it. Even still it felt like a 12-12.5 second 0-60 car which at the time wasn’t horrible.

      Note that the 255 V8 wasn’t offered in the 1982 Granada/Cougar line and was absent from the Fairmont/Zephyr also unless one was police specced. The 1981 cars however were but were only offered with the 3 speed automatic and pathetic 2.26 rear gears which severely killed what little power this engine put out. You had to move up to the T-Bird/XR7 line to get the 4 speed overdrive and 3.08 gears.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Would be kind of fun to take one of these, throw in a late 302, and apply a bunch of Mustang go-fast parts. But keep steelies with wire covers and don’t change a thing in the visible parts of the car.

    As built, it’s one of the saddest efforts in Ford history.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      When I idly fantasise about having silly amounts of money to blow on a hot rod the “Grandma Specials” on the Fox platform are a big part of that fantasy. As dorky as possible on the outside with something silly under the hood and bolted to the suspension mounts.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Parts are still everywhere, and it’s a Fox hot rodder’s dream if you know where to look and what junk yard Fox parts and Mustang aftermarket hardware will work.

        The ’04 Cobra/Terminator was the last of the Fox platform, and escalating Fox prices can almost justify healthy (tasteful) upgrades.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      One 347 Stroker away from sleeper greatness

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    This was sold just a year ago as a cream puff perfection survivor.

    P-E-R-F-E-C-T-I-O-N.

    So all the damage you see interior and exterior happened at the hands of the new owner.

    Trashed in a year.

    Maintenance has a huge impact on the longevity of a car.

  • avatar
    How_Embarrassing_4You

    A good, reliable vehicle for its time. Not great for sure, but certainly not any worse then the garbage GM or Chrysler were putting out at the time.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The midsize ’82 GMs were lipstick on 70’s pigs. They were still cab-on-frame, boxed steering/multi-link (verse rack-n-pinion), upper&lower A-arms (verse struts) and multi V-belts (verse single accessory belt).

      Or you had the Citation. Need I say more? At ’82 Chrysler/Dodge/Ply you had K-cars or similar ’70s pigs.

      Even today, early 80’s “Fairmont” platform cars don’t feel that ancient.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Incidentally, the world class ’04 supercharged Cobra Mustang (Terminator) with IRS is a “Fairmont” chassis, and can go toe to toe with any modern sports car in its class, and the stock chassis can take the 500+ HP/Tq that come with easy “driveway” mods to the 4.6 modular (DOHC).

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        And my 1980’s A/G body GM cars felt like Mercedes compared to the tinny cheap noisy riding vibratory Fox body cars from Ford during these years. I know because I owned and extensively drove both. About the only thing the Ford did better was steer but even that had a catch- noisy power steering pump that actually caught on fire during a warm Summer day. The GM cars rode better, were quieter, much more substantial feeling with window glass that was literally twice as thick, offered more power with 110-115 std HP VS 85-87 and far less torque and all of my examples were far more reliable to boot! Even my dad who owned the 1979 Fairmont sedan before me with a 200 six said his 1982 Cutlass coupe with the 231 was superior in every way!

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          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!

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