Junkyard Find: 1997 Mercury Cougar XR7 30th Anniversary Edition

Ford’s Mercury Division built rear-wheel-drive Cougars from the 1967 through 1997 model years, followed by a 1999-2002 run of front-wheel-drive Cougars based on the Mondeo chassis. Today’s Junkyard Find is thus historically significant on three counts: it’s the last model year for the rear-wheel-drive Cougar, it’s a special edition commemorating the 30th anniversary of the debut of The Man’s Car, and it’s the last year for the XR7 luxury package. Bitter tears, indeed!

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Junkyard Find: 1997 Toyota Camry CE With 5-Speed Manual Transmission
I’ve spent years documenting the rise of the Toyota Camry through the lens of the junkyard, from the homely-but-rugged 1983-1986 V10s through the Taurus-sales-pummeling 1987-1991 V20s to the very last US-market Camry wagons of the middle 1990s. After that, the ubiquitous Camry faded into the boneyard background for me… until about a year ago, when I decided to search for the newest possible manual-transmission-equipped discarded Camry.
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Junkyard Find: 1995 Mercury Tracer Trio

Kicky appearance packages and vivid colors were all the rage among Detroit makers of cheap econoboxes during the late 1980s through middle 1990s, and so it became necessary for the Dearborn masterminds to create a Mercurized Ford Escort that would enthrall younger car shoppers. Thus was the Mercury Tracer Trio born. Here’s a screaming purple ’95, spotted in a Denver self-service yard.

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Junkyard Find: 1997 Oldsmobile Bravada

The Olds Bravada started out as an Oldsmobized Chevy Blazer and ended (along with Oldsmobile itself) as an Oldsmobated Chevy Trailblazer. They show up in Colorado junkyards in startlingly large numbers. Who bought Bravadas? For that matter, who bought Isuzu Ascenders? Anyway, because the idea of an Oldsmobile-badged midsize SUV made about as much sense as an Oldsmobile-badged cruel-parody-of-a-luxury-car J-body and is thus sort of interesting, I’ve finally decided to do a Bravada Junkyard Find. We’ll return to the usual Pontiac-badged Daewoos soon enough.

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Junkyard Find: 1997 Subaru Legacy AWD Sedan

Living in Denver, I see tremendous quantities of old Subarus in local wrecking yards. Subarus after about 1985 don’t make it into this series ( unless they’re XTs or SVXs or 4WD Justys), but the Legacy 4WD sedan is quite rare even by Denver standards so I made an exception for this car.

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Junkyard Find: 1997 Saturn SC2, With Rare Badass Flame Job Option

Even though the Saturn S-Series has been one of the most common vehicle types in American self-service wrecking yards for at least the past decade, I’ve always walked right past the SCs and SLs when I’m looking for vehicles to photograph for this series. The rise and fall of the Saturn marque is a fascinating story, and the S-Series spent much of the 1990s being driven by fanatically devoted owners who appreciated the distinctly un-GM-like experience of buying their cars. The SC2 has been one of the quicker and more reliable cars in 24 Hours of LeMons racing as well, but even that wasn’t enough to make me raise my camera when I passed a whole row of the things at U-Wrench-It. It took this red ’97, with its metalflake flame job peeking through the snow at a Denver yard this winter, to give us a Saturn Junkyard Find.

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Clues That a Car Is Junkyard Bound, Part XI: The Space-Saver Spare

The car companies say that those little “donut” spares shouldn’t be driven at highway speed, and that they shouldn’t be driven for long distances… but they also say that you shouldn’t use a Vise-Grip as a steering wheel! Just the other day, I watched a Mazda 323 with two space-saver spares (on the left side, of course) dicing with a tippy-looking Wrangler at 105 MPH on I-25 in Denver, and I remembered this A6 with three not-so-high-speed-rated wheels, spotted during the coldest Half Price Junkyard Day I’ve ever experienced. Let’s admire it!

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Junkyard Find: 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis LS Safety Edition

By the time the last few years of the Mercury-ized version of the Ford Crown Victoria rolled around, every single Grand Marquis sold was an Ultimate Edition. Back in the late 1990s, however, Mercury shoppers had more choices. Including, apparently, a Safety Edition. Here is an example I found in a Denver self-service yard last week.

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Junkyard Find: 1997 Cadillac Catera

After not seeing a single Catera on the street for several years, I ran into this ’98 Catera in a Denver wrecking yard over the winter. That’s the last time I’ll see one of those, I thought, but then a 24 Hours of LeMons team raced a Catera in South Carolina (as the ill-advised result of all my demands for a LeMons Catera). That Cadillac failed spectacularly, of course… and now here’s another Catera in a Denver junkyard!

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My Introduction To Panther Love: Inaugural Police Interceptor Road Trip!

Back in 2004, I was doing a typical East Bay highway commute to my job writing software documentation. Ten miles each way in a Tercel (I had my choice of an ’85 wagon or a ’90 hatch), and the ever-increasing numbers of badly-driven SUVs on the Dreaded Nimitz were making me feel quite vulnerable in my little rice-burners. I needed a more substantial daily driver, and it damn sure wasn’t going to be an 8-MPG truck with 64-ouncer cup holders. What I needed, I decided, was an ex-cop Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor!

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Junkyard Find: 1997 Mercury Cougar XR7 With Florida-Style Faux-vertible Option

When I saw this car at a Denver self-service yard, I had to wonder if Ford really sank so low in the late 1990s as to make this godawful crypto-laundau roof a factory-installed option on the MN12 XR7. I haven’t been able to find any references to such an abomination in any of my reference books, so it’s probably a safe assumption that we’re looking at an aftermarket conversion.

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90s Japanese Luxury Car Purchase Dilemma Solved: Going VIP!

Back in September, I wrote about my search for a 1990s Japanese luxury car as a daily driver, with the Infiniti Q45, Lexus LS400, and Acura RL as the main contenders. Five months later, I’ve made my choice.

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  • EBFlex "I've only filled the gas tank three times in 2500 miles"Assuming you went from 0 gallons to full (17.2), you have averaged almost 50MPG over those 2500 miles. 50 MPG in a Jeep Wrangler. To all of you EV nut jobs, tell me again how PHEVs are not the absolute best thing to happen to automobiles since the wheel. And tell me how they don't make EVs look like the awful play toys that they are.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird The Buick 215/3.5-liter aluminum V8 was one of GMs great engines. Unfortunately GM being GM in one of their greatest mistakes was selling off the tooling to BL. If they kept it around and improved upon it it would have been a fine motor for their compacts and midsize models through the OPEC oil crisis.
  • Chris P Bacon Not sure why a '21 is getting reviewed, because there have been improvements to the 4xe. I've got a '22 4xe Sahara. May 2022 build in High-Velocity yellow with a soft top. As soon as it was announced I knew I wanted to try it, not for the fuel mileage, but for the technology. I don't have a Level 2 charger, it charges fully overnight on the included Level 1. I see an indicated range of 27 miles regularly. Today it indicated 29 when I unplugged. I've only filled the gas tank three times in 2500 miles, a full charge costs me about $3 based on my current electricity supplier. I don't experience the rough transitions between electric and gas, so maybe Jeep figured it out? It's stupid fast when using all the power off the line. So much so that it will break the rear wheels loose when you stomp on it. I agree that plugin hybrids are the future. I see no need for a pure electric. This is the way to go.
  • RHD The word B R O N C O written in contrasting paint on the dashboard is quite unnecessary. The passenger certainly knows what kind of vehicle he or she is in. That detail is a big fail. The red and white Bronco looks great, especially with tires that have honest-to-goodness sidewalls on them.
  • Luke42 Aren't those trim levels just different colors of paint?That's what they sound like, at least. 🤷‍♂️