1987 Mercury Cougar 5.0 from North America


Good vehicle for a backyard mechanic


Some of these were routine maintenance, and to be expected for a car with 106,000 miles at the time of purchase.

Engine, transmission, starter, starter solenoid, alternator, rack & pinion, brakes/rotors, bearings, heater core, master cylinder, exhaust, battery, water pump, wiper motor, gas tank, fuel lines, fuel pump, power steering pump, tires, fan, all belts/hoses, radiator. A/C never worked, and I never tried to fix it.

General Comments:

Mercury Cougar 20th Anniversary Edition. This was my 1st car and I really enjoyed driving it (when it was running). It was also educational to learn how to fix everything that went wrong 1-2 x's.

It had power everything, and heated seats.

It had good power with the 5.0 motor (when all cylinders ran), and had a nice rumble with Flowmaster mufflers and the catalytic converters cut off.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 21st December, 2010

1987 Mercury Cougar LS 3.8 from North America


A great, classic, luxury rear-wheel drive ride!


Over the 21 years, it has taken four or five alternators.

There were 2 factory recalls for emission concerns. Exhaust work, brakes, and tires. That's it!

Financially, it has been a dream. I let my grandmother use it for most of those years, so today it does only have 88K miles on it, but we're still talking over 20 years of low maintenance.

General Comments:

A totally unbiased view. I bought this car new in 1987. I really wanted to buy a Monte Carlo, but GM was exempting that model from the attractive financing programs. There was another big factor... The price of the Cougar and the Monte were about the same, but the Chevrolet only had air conditioning, while the Cougar was VERY well equipped (for comparably priced models).

The 3.8 V6 has reasonably good performance, which is substantially better than the GM 3.8. The Automatic overdrive always has, and does buck at times, but there have been no problems with it.

Besides the things you would expect on a personal luxury car, it has power locks, windows, mirrors, driver's seat, cruise control, all of which still work.

Has a super digital speedometer, which displays miles or kilometers, trip meter, and has a real cool 'speed' setting, which gives you an alarm if you drive 5 MPH over the set speed. In its day, it was state of the art!

Rides and drives really nice, especially for the rear seat passengers. With all that stuff, you would think I would have encountered some kind of electrical demon, but... knock wood!

The window and door seals are well designed, and are quite hefty, keeping the interior very quiet. The seats are very comfortable, but the very high backs create a visibility problem. The dashboard has great visibility, and all the controls are easy to use, with minimal distraction.

What was really unusual about it, is that the power windows and seat control are on the center console. Confuses the mind of your passenger, and you have to be careful not to spill your drink on it, but I've always liked the location. I would highly recommend this car (or the similar Thunderbird model) to anyone who wants a classic rear wheel drive, personal luxury car.

Now the downsides, which are few. It is very long as compared to its width. It is nearly 2 feet longer than my full-size 1977 Dodge 'Hippie' van. Because of this, it has the turning circle of a U-Haul truck. It is also extremely hard to make turns with it. If you take the corner too fast, it is the most scary experience you will ever have in your car. The visibility is TERRIBLE, which can also be scary in tight quarters. The large, triangular rear windows are the biggest reason for this.

The headlight and marker lights are a real bear to change, but they don't often need changing. You also have the ongoing problem of condensation inside these assemblies, which have caused some discoloration of the lenses.

If you tilt the seat, or the seat back, to its full limit, it will jump the track, and you'll need a crowbar to get it back over. The inner part of the leather steering wheel is made of some kind of black, gooey, substance, which is now leaking out, and is like getting tar on your hands. Of course, I put a cover on it.

Parking is also an unpleasant experience! Sometimes I have to back up, and reposition it, even in a full size parking lot space. So not only is it hard to get into that space, you also need every inch of it! And if it's a REAL tight spot, you might have to go at it 3 times, both getting in, and backing out.

So there you go. A complete analysis of the good, the bad, and the ugly, of owning this car for 20 years.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th February, 2009

7th Feb 2009, 03:44

No, the GM 3.8 liter engine produced roughly similar power and performance than the Ford 3.8 liter, while being in most versions far more durable and reliable.

22nd Feb 2009, 22:48

OK... maybe my bad. The GM 3.8 V-6 I was comparing it to, were rear-wheel drive, mid-size cars, most of which were considerably older than my 87 Mercury. (Cutlass, Regal, Malibu, etc.) The performance I have seen out of such equipped cars, was never anything better than pathetic!

1st Mar 2009, 22:47

I have an '87 Cougar LS with the 3.8L V6. I made it to 398000 miles before the shifter finally gave out and the exhaust manifolds rusted away her in Minnesota. The car has been an absolute dream to own. If it had any remaining value, I would fix it and still run it. It still gets 24-30 mpg on the highway.

4th Oct 2009, 10:56

As to the guy who commented that the speed control was 'hardly state of the art', he must have misunderstood that I was trying to state that the WHOLE of the equipment was state of the art, not that particular feature.