Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Is it time for a new Mercury Cougar? I hear a lot of wishing out there.

The Mercury Cougar came out in 1967, the one pictured is a 68. And from the begining it was much more than just a rebadged Mustang. The Cougar was a pony car, and was inspired by the Mustang, that it shared some common components with. But it was so much more. The Cougar bridged the gap between the Sporty Coupe Mustang and the Luxury Coupe/Sedan Thunderbird. Cougar also had a distinctly Mercury flavor to it. Higher level of content, with availalbe Leather interior and four wheel disc brakes.

Many bloggers, pundits and forum posters have been saying that Ford should bring out a new Cougar (or even Lincoln) based on the wildly sucessful Mustang. I disagree, the Mustang is great, there's no doubt about that, for it's price range, there is little that can touch it. But the Mustang is missing a certain sophistication and level of content that a Cougar should have.
Now sure Mercury strayed a little from the original Cougar concept and vision, until in the 70's the Cougar was little more than a rebadged Thunderbird or LTD II .
And even worse, by this time, not only was the Cougar available as a 4 door sedan, but a station wagon. This is a 1977 Mercury Cougar Villager.
When Cougar dropped the 4 door and wagon verisions in the early 80's, it still remained a rebadged Thunderbird. Now these sold well, but were not really unique vehicles.
One car that was unique was the short lived 1999- 2003 Mercury Cougar built on the Ford Contour chassis. A sporty 2 door front wheel drive V6 coupe, these are still popular with the younger "tuner" crowd. It's possible to swap in the SVT Contour's 24v V6 and have a quick if not fast car. But this one never really caught on.

Now many people have looked at the Mercury Messenger Concept car and drooled at the prospect of having a Mustang based Cougar. I say NO! Take this stunning Ford Iosis concept, and put the Lincoln LS/Jaguar S-Type chassis under it, offer both 2 and 4 door versions, give it the new 3.5 V6 with a minimum of 250 hp, and put a top of the line V8 with a minimum of 340 hp, offer both automatic and 6 spd manual transmissions, with available traction and stability control. It doesn't matter to me if the V8 is the 4.6/5.4 Modular family or the Lincoln/Jaguar/Range Rover family 3.9/4.2/4.4 familiy, with or without supercharger. Make sure there's a moonroof and rich leather interior available. Don't cheap out on airbags or abs, make them standard. Price the thing from $30,000 for base V6 to $35,000 (base price, actual delivered prices could tough $40k) for higher powered V8 versions and market it against Lexus, Infinit, Nissan and BMW.

This post was inspired by comments by JD and reinforces some points I had made earlier.

If Ford is going to do it, do it right or don't do it at all. A new Cougar should be the "Halo" car for Mercury, not just a Mustang with a new grille.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I used to have a '77 Cougar wagon with a 351 Cleveland. I loved it. Sure would like to find another one.