No Reserve: 1988 Mercury Cougar LS

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The pages of automotive history books overflow with brands that are no longer with us. Some went out in a blaze of glory, while others created barely a ripple when they disappeared. Sadly, Mercury falls into the second category despite producing some wonderful vehicles. I have always believed preserving cars from such marques is important because they are the last remaining links to their glory days. The theme of preservation is relevant to this 1988 Cougar LS because its condition is extraordinary for its age. It needs nothing but a new home, with the seller listing it here on eBay in Akron, Ohio. They set their No Reserve auction to open at $3,995 but have received no bids. Those wishing to throw caution to the wind could hit the button on the BIN option of $5,995. I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder Bill G for spotting this fantastic survivor.

Mercury based its Fifth Generation Cougar on Ford’s Fox Platform when released in 1979, continuing that trend when it unveiled the Sixth Generation for the 1983 model year. The range remained on sale until 1988, with our feature Cougar LS rolling off the line during the last production year. It has a known ownership history, and its condition is exceptional for a vehicle of this type and age. The Oxford White paint is original, with no history of repairs or restoration. It shines beautifully, with only a few minor chips and marks. The dual pinstripes provide a subtle and classy contrast to the acres of White. The underside shots reveal occasional spots of surface corrosion but no evidence of anything that could develop into penetrating rust. The seller purchased the Cougar from the original owner’s estate and was told that the car never saw snow or bad weather. The vehicle’s overall condition makes the claim plausible. There are no signs of plastic deterioration, the wire hubcaps are in good order, and there are no glass issues.

Buyers ordering a new 1988 Cougar could choose from two engines, with this car featuring the 3.8-liter V6. Shifting duties fall to a four-speed automatic transmission, while power assistance for the steering and front disc brakes were standard equipment. The big news for V6 buyers in 1988 was the company’s decision to add Multiport Fuel Injection. The 3.8 had served faithfully since the Sixth Generation’s launch, producing 112hp and 175 ft/lbs of torque in 1983. When this car rolled off the line, fuel injection and ongoing upgrades pushed those figures to 140hp and 215 ft/lbs. Performance was dramatically improved, but the most notable difference was that the upgrades made the V6 more refined, especially in cold weather. This Cougar is a numbers-matching survivor with 101,000 miles on the clock. Some supplied images show the car wearing the narrow whitewalls the seller recently fitted while they confirm they replaced the fuel tank last year. It comes with a mountain of paperwork, including the original Window Sticker, 1988 Bill of Sale, Owner’s Manual, Marti Report, and various receipts and other documents. The seller doesn’t describe the Cougar as a daily driver, but I see no reason why it can’t be. They prefer to view it as a clean and affordable classic with thirty-six years behind it.

The Window Sticker reveals that the first owner focused on comfort when ordering this Cougar. She equipped the interior with air conditioning, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, cruise control, a rear defroster, a tilt wheel, and an AM/FM radio/cassette player. That may sound modest by modern standards, but the list was pretty impressive in 1988. The seller indicates the A/C doesn’t blow cold, although the compressor kicks in as it should. They haven’t tested the cassette player, but they confirm that the luxury features operate correctly. The Cinnabar cloth trim is in exceptional condition, with no significant wear. The same is true of the carpet, and the dash and pad are spotless.

A 1988 Mercury Cougar LS is unlikely to find its way onto any Top 10 list of the world’s most desirable cars, but you must search long and hard for one as tidy as this survivor. It has no immediate needs, and although the BIN figure is at the top end of the market, it is probably justified. If you are considering pursuing it further, there is one tantalizing thought. There have been no bids on the No Reserve auction. That means that if things don’t change, someone could become this Mercury’s new owner with a single bid that is well below the BIN. Maybe that makes monitoring this auction worthwhile. What do you think?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Harvey HarveyMember

    You should of had a V8.

    Like 15
  2. RICK W

    For me, Cougar reached its best with 77 through 79 (especially XR7. LIKE Continental Mark’s, it was downhill from there. BUT for someone who appreciates this styling, it looks like a Bon Marche.

    Like 4
  3. Big C

    You can be sure that this Cougar didn’t put in its 100,000 miles in Akron. Or she’d look like swiss cheese.

    Like 4
  4. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    These Fox-based Cougars were a nice package and sold in respectable numbers. Many were equipped like this one, with the typical options of the day. Not much money for a straightforward cruiser which looks to be in good condition.

    Like 5
  5. Chris

    Same power train my ‘88 T-Bird had. Mostly reliable and trouble free but not as lively as GM’s 3.8 V6.

    Like 3
  6. DN

    Isn’t this the same engine that frequently blew head gaskets in the Sable/Taurus?

    It’s a shame it doesn’t have the 5.0 & red interior

    Like 2
    • George Parker

      Yes, there were notorious for blowing head gaskets at about 100,000 Miles had one 3.8 in a Granada blew the head at 100,000. Friend of mine had the same issue at 99, ran nice but it’s as if was programed to self destruct at 100,000

      Like 0
  7. Michael TischlerMember

    I bought a 86’Couger, and kept it till a trade on a first year 91’Explorer with a rare front bench seat and left N.J. for AZ.

    Like 1
  8. mick

    88 Cougar with 101K on the clock and 140hp? What’s not to like?

    Like 2
  9. Brian B.

    Brings back memories of this car, it’s identical to one my wife and I rented from Hertz in San Francisco. We were on our honeymoon in August of ’88 and had the car for couple weeks. Put a lot of miles on it including a trip to the Mojave desert in 121 degrees heat. It never missed a beat, comfortable car and awesome as I recall.

    Like 1
    • RICK W

      In the summer of 77,on my first trip to LA, as requested I got a 77 Cougar from Hertz and enjoyed every mile. Relied on Hertz for vacation rentals until 88 when I had a confirmed reservation for a Town Car (important event). At the desk, I was told no Town Cars were available. My choices were a CAMRAY or a TAURUS. WHAT a sorry and disappointing situation. That was the LAST time I let Hertz put Me in the Driver’s Seat 💺.

      Like 3
      • DrBob

        Really. A Lincoln is a Ford with more plastic chrome and fake wood. Sorry it just really the same. At least the Camry would have not failed and left you stranded as I was I riding in friends company Taurus! Base model, 3 L v6 was awful and omg it was so damn ugly, it was a 96. Broke down weekly on him.

        Like 0
      • RICK W

        Well Dr. BOB, fortunately we can STILL have our own opinions. Not sure how much longer 😕. But IMO there is a HUGE difference between a Taurus and a Lincoln. I hated the Taurus I chose, but with my father having spent years at Inland Steel, I could not possibly drive a Toyota! 🇺🇸. But it’s a mute point. Even LINCOLN and CADILLAC now concentrate on SUVS, crossovers, and melted jelly beans. 🤮 🤮 🤮 Not surprised about your Taurus event. See, we CAN agree on something. 👍

        Like 1
  10. Connecticut mark

    I believe the 3.0 was much better than the 3.8, less power but lasted longer

    Like 0

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