Junkyard Find: 2001 Mercury Cougar S

Of all the Mercury models sold since the marque was born in the 1939 model year, the Cougar must have been the most varied. From the first Mustang sibling in 1967 and into our current century, the Cougar name went on small sporty coupes, white-powder-sprinkled personal luxury boats, midsize sedans, big sedans, station wagons, and various thinly-disguised Continental/Thunderbird copies. The very last Cougar generation was a sport compact coupe with European ancestry, and that's what we've got for today's Junkyard Find.

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TTAC Throwback: 1979 Mercury Cougar XR-7

As electric cars are finding favor again, I keep hoping that their virtue of instantaneous, silent power will inspire automakers to revive the personal luxury coupe. Electric propulsion would be ideal for a car whose mission is to provide comfortable, stylish accommodation for two passengers plus the occasional occupants of a not-too-small rear compartment. 


The long hood, an essential styling hallmark of the genre, could become a commodious “frunk” able to hold all the golf bags the marketing department might desire. Glove-soft upholstery might enrobe seats devoid of confining, uncomfortable lateral support bolstering.  Every power assist and convenience would be in place to gladden the sybarite’s heart. For instance, power window switches could operate just by sight, so one’s fingers aren’t strained when ordering at the Starbucks drive-through window. Personal luxury coupes don’t need to be fast, enhancing driving range. The possibilities for Broughamized electric coupes are endless!


Yet, despite my frequent, vigorous attempts to show them the way, carmakers seem blind to the golden opportunity to revive the personal luxury coupe. Elon Musk has even stopped returning my texts. Philistine. 

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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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Rare Rides: The 1994 Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe, Fast Personal Luxury

We’ve been talking about Thunderbird often lately, whether it’s in a Buy/Drive/Burn, or a recent Rare Rides on the 007 Edition Thunderbird of 2003.

And earlier today the Internets served up a random ad for a teal 10th-generation T-bird in fantastic condition. Seems like a perfect opportunity to add it to our coverage of the long-lived personal luxury nameplate.

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Mercury Cougar GS Two-door Sedan
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.
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Buy/Drive/Burn: American Two-doors for a New Century

Today’s Buy/Drive/Burn is the first of two consecutive entries where we’ll be evaluating two-door offerings from the dawn of the new millennium. First up is the American car trio… though one of them is thoroughly European.

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Mercury Cougar XR-7
With all the generations of the Cougar that Mercury sold, from the Mustang-based ’67 through the Mondeo-based ’02, which one sold the best? That’s right, the rococo Thunderbird-sibling 1977-1979 models, and most of them were luxed-up XR-7s.Yes, the Man’s Car, slathered with chrome and vinyl and menacing feline-themed badging, proved to be the ideal machine for the Disco Period of the Malaise Era, and I’ve found this well-preserved ’79 in a Northern California self-service yard.
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Piston Slap: A Tail Light Two-Fer!

We have a two-fer for tail light design this time…well, except one is about signal lights.

But I stand by my alliteration as they both exist on a car’s tail.

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Piston Slap: The Cat's Meow for OEM or Aftermarket Parts? (Part II)

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

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New York State Outlaws Posing With Big Cats, Chauncey the Cougar Snarls Somewhere

Full gallery here.

If a law recently signed into effect by New York Governor Andrew Coumo had been on the books in the 1960s, it’s possible that the Mercury Cougar might have been named something else. In that alternative universe, the law would also have likely completely changed the direction of the Mercury brand in the 1960s and 1970s. A.9004/S.6903 prohibits exhibitors of big cats, lions, tigers, jaguars/panthers, and cougars (aka mountain lions), from allowing the public to have “direct contact” with the exotic animals. For the purpose of the law, direct contact includes both physical contact like petting or posing with the animal, proximity to it, as well as allowing photography without a permanent physical barrier between them, protecting the animal and the public. The bill was sponsored in the New York Assembly by Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), an animal rights advocate. Somewhere, Chauncey the Mercury Cougar snarls.

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Hammer Time : Saving An Old Cougar From Extinction

An unsellable car comes in many forms.

The three-door minivan. The stickshift attached to a non-sporty wagon. The Daewoo. The conversion van with design graphics rooted in sexual fantasy.

Then there is this car. A car designed in the Reagan era with a cheap plastic grille, an even cheaper plasticized interior, and a luggage rack on the trunk that would do Lee Iacocca proud.

God I love this thing. What the hell is wrong with me?

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Junkyard Find: 1977 Mercury Cougar

We make fun of the personal luxury coupe now, just as we make fun of leisure suits, WIN buttons, and Freakies cereal. Still, the rest of the world (except perhaps Australia) never experienced the glory of the huge, inefficient, vaguely sporty coupe with floaty ride and deep-tufted velour interior, and this is their loss.

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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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Junkyard Find: 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 "Prowler"

When the Cougar went from the Fox platform to the MN12 platform for the 1989 model year, it got an independent rear suspension and a longer wheelbase for even more personal luxury. The ’89-97 Cougar had style, and thus the Prowler Edition XR7 makes perfect sense.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Mercury Cougar

The Cougar name has been slapped on so many different Mercurized (Mercurated?) Fords that it gets hard to keep them straight. I never much cared for the over-gingerbreaded Mustang-based version, but the big Thunderbird-based late-70s Cougar seems properly Mercurial.

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  • Anonymous My dad drove an 84 LTD. He always bragged about how special it was. Interesting to see that again.
  • Conundrum Here's how much Ford had to do design-wise with that engine in the article's lead picture.Zero. It was a Cosworth when Cosworth was still original Cosworth, over 30 years ago. The engine shown is a development of the original DFV. Ford paid to have its name on the cam covers for decades.I wonder who Ford will get to design this proposed new F1 engine for 2026. Because sure as hell, they don't have the in-house talent to do it themselves.
  • Sayahh Story idea or car design competition: design a compact sedan, a midsize sedan, coupe and/or wagon specifically for people 6'4" through 7'2". Not an SUV nor a crossover nor a raised chassis like the US Toyota Crown or Subaru Outback.
  • Sayahh I only check map app only when absolutely necessary and only at a red light. An observation: lots of ppl leave 2 car lengths (or more) between themselves and the car ahead of theirs so that they can text or check the internet (because they are afraid they might roll forward and hit the car in front of them?) This drives me crazy because many ppl do it and 3 cars will take up almost 7 car lengths and ppl cannot get into the left turn lane when it's bordered by a cement "curb." Worse is when they aren't even using their phone and have both hands on the stewring wheel and waiting for the green light. Half a car length is enough, people. Even one car length is too much, but 3 or 4 car lengths? At 40 MPH, maybe, not at 0 MPH please.
  • 6-speed Pomodoro My phone never leaves my pocket while driving. This is fine in my daily with bluetooth and also fine in my classic car, but people get mad in a hurry that I'm ignoring them.