Few likely remember the last Mercury to carry the Cougar name. Today’s Nice Price or No Dice edition looks to be a decent reminder of that legacy. Will its price make it all the more memorable?
Before the advent of the car-based van in the early 1960s, the role of small commercial conveyance in the U.S. was typically held by the panel truck. These pickup-based trucks served the likes of plumbers, TV repairmen, and delivery services, offering lockable, weather-tight transport of goods and trade tools.
While that form factor pretty much went away here, it continued to be offered in other markets, notably Latin America which is where the 1975 Ford B-100 panel truck we looked at on Friday originally called home. Now it’s a rare duck here in the States and as such, the seller thinks it to be worth $19,500. That’s despite its oddity and sparse accommodations. Many of you disagreed with that pricing assessment, which, in the end, resulted in a 67 percent No Dice loss. I guess we can’t all be Latin lovers.
Latin, by the way, was the language of ancient Rome, an empire that gave us many gods including Mercurius, or Mercury, who, oddly enough, was the god of both tradesmen and thieves. The Mercury name has since been applied to a planet, an American insurance company, and until January of 2011, as the Ford Motor Company’s mid-range brand. As a Ford subsidiary, Mercury often leveraged Ford’s broad bench of models to gussy up and sell at a higher cost. One of those was the original Mercury Cougar, which was nothing more than a fancier version of Ford’s Mustang.
Ford had bandied about the Cougar nameplate on a couple of show cars in the 1950s and early sixties, including on a Shelby Cobra-based sports car that came within a hairsbreadth of production. When the Cougar nameplate finally made it to production, however, it was on a Mercury.
Ford would continue to apply the Cougar name to an ever-changing series of chassis and model partnerships throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, often muddying what exactly the Cougar was supposed to be and what role it should play within Mercury’s model line.
Eventually, Ford tried a different track, giving the Cougar its own unshared body, and positioning it in replacement of the recently discontinued Ford Probe. In fact, the 1999 — 2002 Mercury Cougar was originally intended to be the 3rd-generation Ford Probe. It was decided by the powers that be at the carmaker that, as a Probe, the model would crowd the recently redesigned Mustang and contemporary Ford Escort ZX2, both coupes of similar size and, in most ways, a similar market.
Switching to the Mercury marque gave Ford’s competing models some breathing room and offered Mercury a small sporty coupe that could potentially draw in younger buyers and help bump up Ford’s CAFE numbers.
Ford leveraged the then-new four-door Contour platform for the Cougar as well as that model’s available four and six-cylinder engines. This platform sharing also meant that the Cougar would be FWD, a first for the nameplate. The edgy and extravagant bodywork also featured another first for a Cougar, a practical hatchback body.
This 1999 Mercury Cougar is a one-owner car with a mere 42,441 miles on the clock and is kitted about as best as one could want, with its 2.5-liter, 170 horsepower Duratec V6 and five-speed MTX-75 manual gearbox. The car also has disc brakes all the way ‘round, handsome five-spoke alloy wheels that evoke the style of Porsche’s Turbo Twists, and a somewhat schizophrenic melange of growling cat and Mercury badging sprinkled throughout.
Painted in Ash Gold Metallic, the bodywork shows no evidence of accidents or even a particularly hard-knock life. All of the plastic for the lighting lenses looks equally up to par. That’s likely owed to the low miles and the seller’s boast that it has been “Indoor parked since purchase.”
A similar presentation greets occupants who will be cosseted in clingy cloth seats with a decent amount of bolstering facing a dashboard with two airbags and a lot of switchgear that will feel familiar to Ford aficionados. The only obvious wear shown in the pictures is in the carpet next to the accelerator pedal in the driver’s footwell. Admittedly, this is the first time I’ve seen such wear on a car.
According to the brief description in the ad, this Cougar “Drives perfectly!” It’s so good, in fact, that it’s claimed to feel “like a new car.” It also comes with a clean title, just like one might expect of a new car.
Here’s the deal though: it’s not a new car. It’s a two-decades-old coupe from a defunct brand that was once an attempt to revive a model name that few people gave two deuces about in the first place, and that now is most likely remembered by even fewer. Those are some heavy headwinds, and we haven’t even gotten to the car’s $6,000 asking price.
What do you think? Is this seemingly well-cared-for Cougar a good deal at that $6,000 asking? Or, does that price mean this cat won’t have two lives, much less nine?
H/T to FauxShizzle for the hookup!
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