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Hello,

So I have had a 1999 Mercury Cougar for about 2 years now. I love the car but I want something a bit faster. So I thought I would ask about some performance upgrades. It is a V6 Automatic in Rio red with the stock 16” aluminum wheels. I am currently going to school to be a mechanic and work at a local shop, however I don’t want to get too much money invested in it. I haven’t worked too much with engines just yet other than the basics, spark plugs, valve cover gaskets, oil changes, stuff like that. what I’m really looking for is improving the 0-60 of it. Thanks for reading, hope to here from some people.
 

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Best thing you could do is convert it to 3 pedals. That will cut a full second off the 0-60.
 

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Best thing you could do is convert it to 3 pedals. That will cut a full second off the 0-60.
thanks for the reply, not sure if I want to invest that kind of money into it and I don’t know if I have the tools to do so. I am sure I could do it at my bosses shop but I don’t know if he would let me use his only lift. I still love the car, handles really nice and I bought it only 70k on it (has 79k now). Always have been a big mercury fan, I don’t think they ever get enough credit.Thanks again.
 

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Even the manual cars are slow by todays standards. The auto cars will never be fast without major transplants.
Focus on making it nice...something thats a joy to cruise in and show off to your friends. Put it in immaculate condition, get a nice modern sound system with all the bells and whistles and keep it super clean.
There's a few things you can do to spice it up a bit without major work, explore the how-to's section of the forum, and also take a look at SVT mods: SVT LITE Upgrade For Dummies
Just dont expect to ever beat your buddy's civic light to light.
 

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These cars aren't going to set any impressive 0-60 times w/out tossing a lot of time and money into them (this from someone who went from a 2.5l V6 auto to a 3.0l 5spd with an LSD). And even then you're just going to be surprising old Mustangs and stock WRX's from the same era. Not saying it's not worth it because it is and completely makes it feel like a different car and more like what it should've been. But you're looking at at minimum a couple grand between the donor car, a low-mileage 3.0l from a junk yard, all the "while you're in there" stuff and tuning. That's not including cost of surprises because who knows what you'll find or break once you start pulling 20 year old stuff apart. Ask me how I know.

Like MMC said, you can find some "lite" motor mods that'll help it breath better and there's some parts out there as people jump to 3l's. Headers are a good mod and a fun challenge to install. Just make sure your IMRC is working properly, isn't missing the arm to open the runners if you feel it's unusually low on power.

With that your best option is to improve the limits it can be pushed with its current power and that's going to be tires, suspension and brakes. These cars love handling mods and taking corners twice as fast is going to make every backroad infinitely more enjoyable than highway pulls. When I go on cruises with local clubs I'll never keep up with the Astons or Porsches on the highway, but when we're on those winding New England country roads I'm right on them.

I'd start with some decent 17" wheels and the nicest set of Summer tires you can afford and use the 16's as your Winter tires if you daily it. I haven't kept up with shock/spring options out there for us now, but I'd avoid diving right into a coil-over kit and do something like a Koni and Eibach setup for a firmer OEM feel with a slight drop. Replace any tired bushings, or everything depending on just the age and find a larger rear-sway bar and Massive tubular arms for the rear (make sure your rear subframe isn't rotting where the sway bar bushes bolt up). A rear strut tower brace really finishes off the rear nice (I can't say I've missed not having a front one). Any performance street brake setup will be an improvement over the OEM stuff so I have no suggestions there.

That's how I'd start on these cars if I was just finding one today because I love how it handles. I recently updated my suspension and seriously such a fun car to chuck into the corners.
 

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Its a good looking car though! Nice pics. Definitely worth saving, don't get discouraged that its not fast.
80836
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Its a good looking car though! Nice pics. Definitely worth saving, don't get discouraged that its not fast.
View attachment 80836
thanks for the reply, it is in very nice condition. 79k on it, has most of the options on it too that I wanted. I still love the car, exhaust sounds great and handles like a champ. Has never been modified either so I don’t know if I would even want to mess it up. The sound system is perfectly fine for me too, I think it actually sounds pretty good.
 

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Other than the leather interior, that looks just like my first Cougar. :sniff: Beautiful. I second what they ^^^ said. You can still surprise some new cars in the turns, it's just a beautiful car, it's aged well, it handles very well, and it's (to me ;-) ) slow enough that it probably won't kill me.
 

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Some XR wheels and an 01/02 lower center console would be high pri for me if I bought that car. I would look for an XR spoiler too but that's just me.
Some people prefer the 01/02 headlights, some dont.
I'm guessing it probably has drum rear brakes and the base model front brakes...a rear disc conversion and sport front discs would be a nice upgrade if I'm right.
Install some seat heaters since you live in a cold climate.
A backup cam, reverse sensors, and USB receptacles to get into the 21st century.
Intake and exhaust can get you a little more go without much trouble or expense.
All fresh suspension software can transform your car if your old stuff is shot. (your rear swaybar endlinks are almost certainly not doing anything for you unless they've been fixed this week)
 

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Very nice ride, especially the mileage and being original. I agree on keeping it stock and not sure the 3.0l swap is worth it. The 2.5 is a very hot little number to begin with.

The big problem with these cars is weight. Although they achieved 50/50 F/R distribution (at least least on some models) which is a feat for a FWD car, they also put on fat. My XR is close to 300 pounds heavier than my Contour. I'd consider the SVT Lite upgrade and maybe a (lighter weight) better flowing muffler. A lighter weight battery is also an (expensive) option. If nothing else, I'd consider a K&N replacement filter.

+1 on the XR wheels but know they're probably hard to find and likely heavy being factory. Lighter wheels are an easy way to wake any car's performance up.

+1 also on the end links. I just changed mine on the Contour and it made a notable difference. The XR is next. A cheap handling upgrade is using poly bushings for the end links and chassis mounts but know the end link rubber bushings can be a bear to install. Poly will be even more difficult, but the chassis mounts should be about the same. After the rear, I'd consider poly chassis bushings on the front bar.

I'd also make sure the 10 cent plastic retainer for the IMRC linkage isn't costing upper end power, if you haven't already.
 

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Along the lines of checking the IMRC, never underestimate the power of a good tuneup and intake cleaning. Sometimes you dont even know your car isn't running right until it does and then you feel dumb for not noticing.
 
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...And even then you're just going to be surprising old Mustangs and stock WRX's from the same era.
Well, it depends on what you're doing with it. I routinely embarrass new STi's, Corvettes and S550 Mustangs on the autocross course. Anybody can drive a fast car in a straight line, LOL.

Definitely the automatic is the biggest detriment to performance. But driving enjoyment doesn't have to be 10/10ths. That car is really beautiful, and as you mentioned, handles well above its class.

As such, handling modifications are immensely rewarding - way more than powertrain mods, even on manual-trans cars. A set of adjustable struts (Spax, Koni) make a massive difference, and even static dampers (Bilstein, B.A.T.) are a considerable upgrade over the original lazy Motorcraft units. A larger rear sway bar (Roush, B.A.T., Addco) makes a rather noticeable transformation. A rear strut tower brace makes a pretty huge improvement, if you don't mind the intrusion on the cargo space. A good set of name-brand sport springs (Eibach, BG, H&R, Koni, B.A.T.) get you a lot more road feel. And finally, TIRES. Great tires can make even a garbage car feel like a superstar. Get a second set of wheels and mount up some max-performance summer tires (something with a 200-300 treadwear rating) for the middle of the year, and relegate the all-season (or rather NO-season) tires to strictly freezing temps and snow.
 
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Maintenance. Save your money.
 
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