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Unlikely Survivor: 22K Mile 1985 Mercury Cougar

Normally, a commodity car like an ’85 Mercury Cougar would barely register a nod of interest. But when you consider 35 years of age, 22K miles, and excellent condition, its stock will have a tendency to rise. The interest is also enhanced as there are so few cars still produced today in this longitudinal engine, rear-wheel-drive arrangement. Let’s give this Cougar the eyeball. It is located in LaCrosse, Wisconsin and is available, here on eBay for a BIN price of $5,250. Thanks to Wyatt D. for this tip.

Any way you cut it, this Cougar is far from its 1967 roots when it was introduced as a more refined, and larger, version of the Mustang and destined to compete with Pontiac’s new Firebird. In production from 1967 until 1997 (or until 2002 if you include the FWD ’99 to ’02 hatchback version), the Cougar went from a two-door hardtop/convertible body style to a four-door sedan and station wagon before returning to a two-door only model in 1983. This Cougar is a member of the sixth-generation (’83-’88) and saw a respectable 117K copies produced.

While possessing similarities to its Thunderbird cousin, one of the signature styling cues of this generation Cougar is the reverse slanted C-pillar. It’s not as obvious on this ’85 example the way it is on an ’88, but it is still recognizable and awkward looking, IMHO, due to its thickness – just a subjective call. There is no denying the exterior condition of this Mercury, it shows very well and has clearly been well sheltered over its 35-year life span, the last eighteen of which, according to the seller, involved no usage. The two-tone finish, another acquired taste I guess, is strong with no evidence of dents, creases, scrapes, or collision damage. It’s nice to see that by ’85, standup hood ornaments were on the way out, this Merc has a simple round badge in that formerly occupied space.

Power is courtesy of a 3.8 liter, V6 engine, good for 120 net HP. The seller claims, “Car runs and drives perfect”, further adding that “All options work except a/c not blowing cold“. The usual equipment is in place including, power steering, brakes, windows, driver’s seat and an automatic transmission which appears to be a Selectshift three-speed unit and not an overdrive equipped gearbox.

The interior looks fantastic. It is a curious arrangement with bucket seats and an armrest topped center console that contains some of the switchgear, but not the gear selector lever, that component is located on the steering column. There’s lots of gray going on with the fabric upholstery, carpet, dash, etc, which meshes with the lots of exterior two-tone gray, but it shows very well with no sign of wear – it appears to be a comfortable environment. And yes, the original radio, with cassette deck, is still right where it belongs.

Sometime back, most would have ignored a car like this, it was inconspicuous in a sea of many similar models. Well, if something hangs on and lasts long enough it comes full circle and will garner attention once again. Considering the mileage and condition, this Cougar comes off as a reasonable buy. And buy it, drive it and enjoy it, I’m sure someone will do, would you agree?


  1. Mitchell Gildea Member

    Swap a 351 and a C6 in it, leave the sleeper look and cruise

    Like 3
    • jwzg

      A 347 with a Lentech prepped AOD would not require dropped motor mounts or a cowl hood for clearance, and it give you the benefit of cruising at a much lower RPM.

  2. Classic Steel

    This was less desirable due to SUV craze but now maybe a collector 👍

    Good luck with sale!

    Like 3
  3. Jim C

    I don’t get the phrase “would barely register a nod of interest”. Like many “commodity” cars, you seldom see one of these today. If I’m at a car show, I’m going to be checking this out before I go look at any of the plethora of Camaros and Mustangs. So glad someone somewhere is saving cars like these. Otherwise, future generations will think we all drove around in muscle cars.

    Like 16
    • Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

      Well said Jim C. I enjoy seeing the “commodity” cars. This is a nice Cougar. I like the two-tone paint schemes of the era, especially the silver/gray like this one. I’d perk up the looks with some aftermarket wheels and tires and call it good.

      Like 9
  4. Maestro1 Member

    A car designed by committee. From the beltline down its one car, and from that place upwards its another. It doesn’t matter. They are good cars, and this would be a unique driver.

    • nlpnt

      One of those cases, imo, where less budget for differentiation would’ve actually helped matters. The roofline is its’ main source of awkward looks and if it had been forced to share the Thunderbird one the whole would’ve been smoother if less distinctly Mercury.

  5. Sam

    It’s sold. Good! Now, I don’t feel the need to go get it! :) Interesting side note, I flew to Lacrosse, WI (where this Cougar was) year before last to see (and purchase) an ’81 Lincoln Mark VI. Until then, I had never experienced that particular part of the country and it is absolutely beautiful.

    Like 4
  6. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    A friend of mine had one of these. It rode really nicely and thought that the digital speedo was cool back then.

    I test drove a couple of XR-7 models with the 2.3 turbo but it felt sluggish with the auto trans. Ended up with an Xr4Ti with manual.

    Like 3
    • sam

      I agree with you. These had a really smooth ride and the steering was a huge improvement over those just a few years before. I also got to drive the Mark VIII sister to this and the T-bird and it was a dream drive. We were on vacation in Hawaii and these had just come out the year before. I was so excited that we got to rent one for the week.

      Like 2
  7. Steve R

    Other than the cars mileage and condition it doesn’t have offer much to offer a collector/enthusiast. There aren’t many people whose hearts are set a flutter at its sight or mention. This car is purely a play to get a car that will be noticed at shows inexpensively, which is fine. That can be said for many cars, it’s not the car itself, it’s their condition that is the draw.

    Steve R

    Like 1
  8. Charles S Russell

    My father in law had one of these that he bought second hand in the early 90’s. He passed it down to my wife and it was her DD when we met. It was comfortable and I thought the digital dash was pretty cool.

    But it had a weak front suspension that finally came apart on a speedbump in a parking lot in Denver that left one of the front wheels a few feet behind it and about a year later the head gasket gave up the ghost.

    However I do love the look of these. I like the T-Bird one of these a little more but both are handsom

  9. Phlathead Phil

    I’m not seeing 22k original miles here.

    My ‘79 Turbo V-6 Buick would knock the socks off of that blah-mobile.

    Never owned a Mercury or Lincoln, and prolly won’t. However, the phifties Mercs were awesome, especially when customized and the mid sixties cougars were really sexxxy!

    Especially when this Cougar lady once picked-me up as a teen hitchhiking.

    “Hey sonny, you need a ride somewhere??”

    “And how ma’am,” so I hopped in and she took me to a very secluded spot.

    I’ll never forget that red headed lovely!!!

    My world was changed forever!🤩

    • Sarcasmo

      You’re an idiot, and my 88 Mustang 5.0 LX notch would eat your grandpa Buick…Who CARES??

      It’s a nice kept example of a Cougar, no need to be a whiny, hating douche!

      Like 1
  10. Curtis

    My dad bought an 86′ which is basically identical to the 85′ in 1988.It was blue with the same 3.8 liter v6 engine that was bulletproof!! We drove this car for 17 years all over the place between my dad, myself and my brother.It took my dad to work, went to New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Washington from Toronto, took my brother clubbing and only things like the starter or the alternator would need replacement.I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another one cause it was one tough car!!!

    Like 2
  11. Mark D.

    Car has not been sold. Ebay buyer backed out, disappeared after purchase.
    Owner has business receipts with dates(1999-2002), showing milage 20k to 22,000 miles. Car then went into storage for 17-18 years.

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