$3,000 Steal? 1988 Mercury Cougar XR-7

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1988 was the last year that Mercury offered its Cougar on the Fox platform, which it shared with the somewhat similarly-styled Ford Thunderbird. The seller has this 1988 Mercury Cougar XR-7 listed here on eBay in Yelm, Washington, there is a single bid of $1,500, the reserve isn’t met, and there is a $3,000 buy-it-now price listed. Thanks to Dr Ron for sending in this tip!

As with the Thunderbird, Mercury Cougar buyers had one body style choice, a two-door coupe. In what will most likely be yet another failed attempt at making a Photoshop modification to a body style and even more of a failed attempt at actually getting readers to click on the link, here is my version of what a four-door sedan version of a 1988 Mercury Cougar may have looked like. Now, for station wagon and convertible versions… (crickets) (hey, where’d everyone go?)

The sixth-generation Mercury Cougar was built on the Fox platform (as mentioned previously), which it had been in the previous generation, too. They were made for model years 1983 through 1988 and this example is the XR-7 trim level. This car has the optional XR-7 monochromatic wheels in body color, which in this case is Medium Scarlet. For some reason, the seller only provided two exterior photos, but they say that there are no dents or dings.

The seller doesn’t mention rust, but this car is about 20 miles southeast of Olympia, Washington. The pacific northwest is my favorite place to find rust-free and non-sunburnt vehicles in the country, so I’m hoping for the best as far as rust goes. There is some wear and a bit of damage on the leather driver’s seat but otherwise, the interior looks good, from what we see of it. The seller is very conservative in the number of photos that they show us, but they do show the cool digital dash.

The engine is Ford’s 302-cu.in. (5.0-liter) OHV fuel-injected V8, which would have been factory-rated at 155 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque. This car has new tires, belts, hoses, alternator, battery, and motor mounts. I can only imagine what kind of fire-breathing monster Todd Fitch would create out of this engine to turn this Medium Scarlet Cougar into a sleeper. Given the amount of new parts and the overall condition, this seems like a deal to me, how about you?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    I’m with you Scotty, this looks like a used but not abused car which might clean up. Just replacing the headlights would do wonders. I don’t think I have seen these color-keyed wheels before. The price is right.

    I took the bait and looked at your four-door version. Your Photoshop skills are excellent, and I’d call the result…. interesting.

    Like 10
    • Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

      Ha, thanks, Bob!

      Like 3
    • Terrry

      Miles are low, and cars don’t rust as badly here in the PNW as they do back east even though we get a lot of rain. This is because we rarely ever salt the roads. That roof line, which separates the Cougar from the T-Bird, only works as a two door.

      Like 2
    • Troy

      Couple hours invested I think you can get those headlights to clear up have to take them out and attach a small buffer head to a flexible dremel but its may be cheaper than replacing them

      Like 0
  2. Moparman MoparmanMember

    Never really cared for that weird shaped rear window/formal upright roof combo. This would make a good entry point for someone wanting to get an old car. GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 4
  3. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972Member

    These were good-looking cars and you saw a lot of them on the road in the early ’90s, they and their Thunderbird siblings were popular. This Cougar is a bargain assuming a close inspection doesn’t reveal a major issue. It’s got the preferred small block V8 which has a lot of after-market speed parts to improve performance. The paint shows the miles a bit, but the body seems sound. The interior is a bit worn but not bad. Certainly, a decent vintage car for an attractive price.

    Nice job on the photoshopped 4-door, it really looks factory. Probably would have been a poor seller like the 4-door T-Bird of the late ’60s though.

    Like 6
    • Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

      Thank you, sir! It’s funny that the two previous generation Cougars had four-door sedans and even station wagons, but then they went back to just two-door models again with this generation and up until the bitter end.

      Like 5
  4. Charles

    Looks like there’s no fluid in the brake reservoir for the car in the picture.

    Like 1
  5. timothy r herrod

    In 1992 I bought a 1988 Tbird really liked that car, It was white with red interior and the digital speedometer was cool until the bulb burned out. Before I bought it I never noticed any other white T birds in the town of 4000 that I lived in but afterwards I counted 5 others.

    Like 3
    • BoatmanMember

      That always happens, Timothy. At least to me.

      Like 1
  6. Sam61

    I’d treat it nice…good daily driver for 3 or 4 years. Here’s a Photoshop idea…4 Dr with landau irons and a pronounced cougar nose (beak).

    Like 2
  7. Maggy

    Not bad for 3k .I’d pick it up if it was local after inspecting it.

    Like 6
  8. BA

    I’m on board what’s not to like? a/c , rear drive, fuel injection, the 5.0 with more aftermarket parts then you could shake a stick at! and a good looking car ! The price also sounds great too win, win , win

    Like 5
  9. jrhmobile

    Nothing makes a better sleeper than a car people want to hate. They want to outrun you with extreme prejudice and humiliate you for offending them with your presence. For a hard-core hotrodder, this is just about the perfect race bait.

    Which is what makes it so satisfying when you build that poor, ugly orphan into something that can conquer the world. Give this ugly duckling a stout powertrain and they’ll be lining up for you to beat them within an inch of their life.

    Like 1
  10. Terrry

    Nice car. Even if it’s on the very mediocre and mundane “Fox platform”. And it’s local to me. At that price I’m tempted to look at it.

    Like 3
    • maggy

      IF you buy it …ditch the splash guards. God I always hated those things.

      Like 1
  11. Danny B

    I would think you could buy this drive it get an easy 3 grand worth of use from it and still sell it later easily with good normal maintenance…

    Like 4
  12. TomP

    The Lincoln LSC was also on this body platform.. Also with the 5.0 and digital dash (on the earlier models).

    Like 2
  13. D G

    This are good cars. ..I own an 83
    an 87 and a 88 thunderbird all 5 speed manuals..

    Like 0
  14. Pete Kaczmarski

    I purchased a ’88 Cougar XR-7 new. It was my understanding that the analog dash was not offered on this car. That is why coupled with the then-announced last year for the 302 V8. I did a quick search of the ’88 brochure confirmed but maybe the digital dash was optional?


    Like 0
  15. Lakesidebob

    Got an 88 3.8 with 88,000 miles for free.After replacing two blown headgaskets it ran great for some years.Funny thing is after the digital odometer hit 199,999 it started over at 100,000 miles. One of the best vehicles I’ve owned. Almost tempted!

    Like 0
  16. Henry DavisMember

    Just bought a 26,000 mile 1990 35th Anniversary Thunderbird Super Coupe without doing a whole lot of research. Now that I’ve got it and have discovered that there are a lot of SC specific parts that are hard to get, I kinda wish I’d bought an 88 5.0 instead.

    Like 1
  17. T. Pond

    I would really be interested if I wasn’t in NC. Seems like every time there is something decent at a good price (?) it’s always on the left coast and I can’t go check it out.

    Like 1
  18. Paul R

    Very impressive photo shop.
    Is it possible to do one that reconfigures those very awkward rear side windows?

    Like 1
    • Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

      Thanks, Paul! I’ll give it a shot, that curved portion looks really weird even without being attached to a back door.

      Like 0
      • Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

        I’m not sure if this works or not…

        Like 1
  19. Lance

    I do love my personal luxury cars and red looks good on this XR7. 5.0 V8, bucket seats and floor shifted automatic checks a lot of boxes. The windshield is cracked and it’s not a Corvette but at the price point it is definitely worth a second look.

    Like 1
  20. Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

    Auction update: someone must have hit the buy-it-now button and it sold for $3,000.

    Like 0
  21. Bob M.

    Always wanted that anniversary edition back in the day – drop a crate 351 & Tremec 6-speed in it today & have a real hotrod!

    Like 0

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