When you finally have grandkids, if you haven't already, and if you should be so lucky, if that's what you want, you're going to have to sit them down one day and explain what a "Mercury" was. And cars like the 7th-generation Mercury Cougar might make that a bit difficult.

Big Mercury fans out there might be able to educate me, but I'm not sure I ever truly understood what Mercury was about. They were upscale Fords, when Fords could afford to stay properly proletariat, and slotted in underneath Lincoln, when Lincolns were decisively not proletariat at all. Because some of those had suicide doors.

But as Lincolns moved down and Fords moved up, little Mercury got squeezed out, to the point that they sort of became indistinguishable from a lot of other things in the FoMoCo line up.

And though they didn't realize it yet, the symptoms of the illness started showing up a long time before the company's official death in 2011. One of those symptoms was this Cougar.

Okay, so the Cougar was never really a truly unique car in its own right, but it held its own in the 1960s and 1970s. But by the 1990s, it almost looked as if Ford took one look at its Thunderbird, which even Ford didn't seem like it was a fan of, and said, "ugh, I guess? Just... just give it a new grille, or something. Tell people it's got power locks I suppose. It's just... I don't even know, anymore."

And then an ad person came up and said, "but wait, how are we going to advertise this thing? Isn't it just a Thunderbird, a car which you're already not too pleased with?"

And FoMoCo replied, "I don't know, I'm limping along slowly and it'll be until the mid-2000s until I find my way again, so just do something, I don't care."

So that's how the vast acreage of overstuffed cloth seats and dull, dark gray plastic called the "interior" became stylish.

But if you were watching this in 1993, you might've wondered how much longer it would take for the sickness to kill Mercury.