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1,373 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So I think it's fair to say i've fallen in love with this car as well as this little community of ours. I'm glad I grabbed a Cougar instead of a celica or some other sports coupe.. it feels like having a more niche car makes the forum tighter.

Anyway, this might sound like heresy, but I bought mine because it was the first cheap V6 2 door sports coupe that I came across. It was on the list because i liked it's looks, read good things about it's handling and knew the Duratec's reputation.

so what made you guys buy yours? I know a lot of the 'old guard' (I use the term 'old' loosely, I swear! :biggrin: ) bought theirs new. what attracted you to it?

5,112 Posts
my parents bought theirs back in like 2000. then around when i was 13 or 14 they bought an suv because they were having another kid. and so it was just the extra car til i turned 16, then it was given to me. and blew the motor 2 weeks later. lmao.

always loved how this car performed since. been modding it since 16. been racing it since 18. never seriously gave me too much trouble. my friends love getting rides in it. its different. its not something youd have to be in the "cool kids" group.
i know its not exactly what you asked. but thats all you get. lol

24,306 Posts
V6 + three pedals.

Nice-looking "domestic" was a bonus.

I believe the only other non-Pony car that offered all that at the time was the Dodge Stratus R/T, which was not nice-looking.

786 Posts
Some parents pay for college. Mine bought me a car. Said here's your car, but from here on out I pay for everything else. I think it was a good deal. Ive stuck with it for at least 10 years now. Honestly I miss daily driving the thing.

6,301 Posts
I was looking for a new car while I was in college. My plan was to get a mid-size sedan since I knew I would fit in it well, and it was practical. Dealership sales guy recommended the Cougar as something sportier. I remembered reading about the Cougar in Automobile magazine when I was in high school, and I thought it was really cool and different looking when I first saw it in the magazine. Having sat in other sport compacts I had written off the cougar and figured it was like the rest and that I would not fit in it well. Sales guy was confident I would find it comfortable, so we took one for a test drive. I was immediately impress with the amount of space for what looked like a really small car on the outside. I also loved the look of the interior, sunroof, and performance while on the test drive. That cougar was a MTX, which I did not know how to drive at the, so my parents would not co-sign on the loan I needed to buy it since I had no credit. So, I found the 99 Rio Red ATX that was my first cougar. Then this forum helped me down the rabbit hole of modding cars and owning 3 different cougars.

3,217 Posts
Most car for the money in the class.
I compared it against the Eclipse and the Celica GT-S.
Just too many Eclipses on the road so that was out.
Celica was less car for more money.
And then I saw the Zn model and the rest was history ;)

5,241 Posts
My dad bought my mom a '99 Rio Red V6 ATX because she deserved a "sporty" car. We saw it on the dealer lot in late 98, and I don't know if you remember what cars looked like in '98/'99, but the Cougar was in a whole different class in looks. I loved it. They drove it for a year, and my mom decided it was too low for them to comfortably get in and out of - right about the time my old 200K+ mile Taurus died in a winter wreck. So I bought that Cougar from them (gave them a down payment and then took over the payments, unofficially). They replaced it with a '01 Escape which my mom just this past month replaced with a '16 Escape. I'm on my second Cougar, the Rio Red died in another winter wreck on Super Bowl Sunday 2001, replaced with my current '01 Laser Red, bought new. Lurked on the forums with the Rio Red, signed up the day after I brought the '01 home.

313 Posts
My dad bought the Cougar 2.5 MTX new in 1998 - I think it was one of the very first in the area and I remember he had to wait for it. I always thought it was a gorgeous car, but at that time I was busy with two young kids and restoring an old farm house, not to mention job, and did not have time to pay it much attention. In 1999 I bought my Hyundai Accent GSi (don't laugh, it was an awesome car). I drove the Cougar a few times and liked it, but the way the throttle was held open during shifts bugged me. I think I recall there was a firmware update that helped that some?

Fast forward to early 2015 and my trusty Accent was finally totaled by one of the old ladies who insisted on driving into it at intersections, and I was out a car. As I started to look around I realized that not only are new cars with manual trans almost unheard of, apparently used ones are too. I thought about my dad's Cougar and it was apparent that he would get no more than $1000 for it on a trade (I knew he wanted a Focus electric as he doesn't drive so much anymore). So I bought his Cougar and he got his EV, and it's back on the road as a daily driver (now at 111k miles).

I've had to do a lot to it (tires, struts, brakes, bearings, O2 sensors, plugs, bodywork, lots of trim and other minor stuff), but it's a ball to drive. I love the engine and the handling and the brakes - the thing is effortless to drive. Amazingly even the gearbox is quite nice now that I fixed the shift linkage and put Syncromesh in it. It's comfortable and has plenty of room for 2 and for cargo. I wish it got better mileage - I get 22 or 23mpg, which isn't bad given my commute has several hills and town traffic (my Accent never got less than 29mpg). I also like that it is quiet, as I got over loud mufflers long ago. I whip along mostly back roads on the way into work early in the morning and no one hears me. It's a great highway cruiser as well - I had some nice runs out PA322 to visit my daughter in State College, which has some nice twists and hills.

Beyond all that though the car is unique. It was the first shot at the "New Edge" styling theme and I find it to be very well integrated. It is apparent that they stuck very close to a styling theme with this car, both inside and out, and there are some clear compromises because of it (the rear seats, the long doors, that cupholder, etc.), but it all works quite well anyway. And most people have no idea what it is.

26 Posts
Fate. Good luck and three chances.

This 2000 Cougar, MTX belonged to my girlfriends daughter.
She bough it used, and the PO did absolutely nothing to it.
She hated the car, because of power and throttle issues, the drivers window was stuck down, the car was hit 4 times ( not badly, but enough to crinkle the sheet metal ) and it stranded her often. Alternator and battery problems, alarm that had a mind of its own, lost door AND ignition keys... Bad wiper switch , head light switch and would throw the belt ( bad tensioner ) power steering pump had been shot for a year.... Bad suspension and steering.. It goes on and on... And on...

She called the car an evil sneaky bio-tch, that would behave well sometimes.... Then would strand her at the worst times.
She hated the car and though that it was cursed.
She really hated this car and had warned me about her.

Driving from Texas to Illinois a few years back... She blew the engine in Oklahoma.
Her mom...( my girlfriend ) helped her put a transplant engine in it at a garage gas station in the middle of BFE Oklahoma.
They paid way way too much (2500.00) !!!
She was stranded, i wasnt asked for any advice... And they just paid the $$$ and got the daughter back on the road trip.
Girls just do stuff sometimes... What can ya say.
roll with it.

Fast forward to 2014.
Once again, the car got hit ( rear ended )...not bad... A few small cracks on the bumper cover...
But it knocked the transmission shift cable off the engine ( i found out this year )
She could not get the car out of second gear after the rear end wreck.
The daughter parked it at a garage shop for a year... And pretty much walked away from it mentally...
And bought a Dodge Caliber... That she is driving today.

I was asked several times if I wanted the car.
I had only seen it twice, and at night... But had heard all of the horror stories , second hand over a few years. I had an earful.

I said heck no... I dont want that headache... No way .. Fugetaboutit...
I even tried to figure what car or truck i could just transplant the engine into... And came up with nothing convenient...

We all went on our way... Time passed...Until.... The garage where it was stored went out of business.

They were nice enough to call the daughter and let her know it was going to be towed away if she didnt come get it.
This garage was an hour away at highway speeds... And I was like still... "Let them tow it... Begone.. Move on".

Finally the daughter found a car donation place that would give her 75 dollars for the car. She is frugal like that.
The tow truck was coming on Monday to get it, but she had to leave the title and keys in it for them...
So we all took a sunday drive to do just that...

The third time I saw the car...I was like " Yep... Let it go ". before i even got out of the truck. (body damage, flat tires, plastic on the drivers window, oil under the car )

But then something happened....

I saw the car in the daylight for the first time, and really took a look.

I walked around the car... Looking at its lines... The sleek design, that nice bubble butt, the tail lights, headlights and the cougar emblems.... The interesting dark green... Spruce color...the V-6 on the back.... The 5 speed...

Hummmmm...... The gears started turning in my demented mind.
75 bucks sure is an insult... I thought.

Screw it... "Lets try to start her"
The car had been sitting for A year.
It was like CPR was being preformed... Aired up the tires with 2 portable tanks... Just to make it easier to tow.
Then, Jumper cables .... And a spare battery i had brought....
Yep , darn alarm going crazy... Found the large yellow fuse for that in the engine compartment... Nice... ( found the correct one under the dash later on )
Checked the oil... Looked great... Water and antifreeze a ok... Brake fluid ...check
Try to jump start her... And she wants to go!
Hummm... That engine sound like it has compression... Lets get some gas and carb cleaner...
Put in a few gallons... And she wants to go... Just almost.... Really striving to live again. Gasping for air and life !
Popped open the air intake, shot a little carb cleaner in ... And vroooommmm !
Booyah !
"who's the Man?"

Nice nice nice.... Valves quieted right down in a few seconds...
Idled good... V-6 really sounding smooth.... Had no idea this was a Cosworth.
Let her warm up and lets try the transmission...

After idling and charging the battery for a good 20 minutes...checking it with a volt meter
She did not get hot. Very nice surprise in 100 degree Texas weather.
The AC even worked a little..
There is hope for her, I could already tell...

Tried the gears.... There is first, second and reverse.... Good enough to roll around the lot.
Backed her up, tested the brakes and just went for it.

First gear..... Nice... I felt the power
Second gear... Smooth as silk... No problem
Try third... And guess what... There it is.... Pulling like she should...

Sunday in an empty lot.... Lets go for 4 th and then 5 th... Excellent...
No problem at all.... Round and round we go, trying the steering, brakes E brake...

Its all working like it should...

Its decided before i even came to a stop...

There is no way in heck any tow truck is taking this car...

She just needs some TLC and a man mechanics touch...
She told me so.. She whispered it to be somewhere between third and 4 th ;)
Dont tell my GF though...

Come to find out, the owner of the shop where it was stored snapped the shifter cable back on to the transmission ... So what had stranded the car for the last time... Was " fixed by an Angel "

So long story....
A meant to be.
Third time is the charm, a blessed chance encounter... And half way love at first "day light " sight.
And it was a free car....

I honestly think what saved this car was the darn alarm.
Anyone who put power to the battery, had a surprise.... And i think its what kept it from being adopted sitting for a year at a shop/garage. Wimpy alarm horn and all.
It was irritating as heck till I found the fuse.

Took her home by calling AAA.
Safety first... Giving the car back to my girlfriend , so she can recoup some of her engine money she paid years ago. she always loved Cougars... Nuff said ;) .

So did a new power steering pump, lines, control arms, inner and outer tie rods, sway bar bushings, sway bar links, new rotors, pads, calliper slides, loc tite where necessary,
fuel pump, filter.... Solved the Key and alarm issues, programmed a key fob, fixed the power windows, pass side mirror, new fenders, new drivers door, popped the dents out that i could....fixed the front and rear bumpers, rear brakes, rear sway bar links,

new wipers, wiper hoses, oil pan, new headlights, new rear tail light, replacement shifter knob from a 2001, AC recharge, cleaned inside and out, found and fixed the IMRC, found and fixed the throttle plastic dog bone linkage... Sealed a few vacuume leaks.... Cleaned the throttle body and egr and iac....

And more.
I used 99% the correct bolts, parts and replaced everything that i saw was missing on the entire car. Floormats included. Found 5 at a local wrecking yard to choose from.
Ive done soo much to it, I i forgot a lot to even share here. All the weatherstrip was r and r ed... Every clip and fastener and bolt i could touch.

New strut mounts will be here tuesday, and the correct autolite plugs and uim gaskets.
Compression check and sea foam treatment probably tuesday also.

A "real " alignment and tires after that.

Already have the spruce green paint...
Want to gut the cats and already built the mil eliminators and anti moosing copper cap.

I have to thank all of you here for sharing 16 or more years of your trials and tribulations here....

As i could not have done any of this without you all.
That is why i joined here, and I've been Cougar bitten.
Cat Scratch Fever, and found a hidden den.

Thanks for staying with the read.

This car was truly just missing a mechanical mind, the right knowledge and a belief in her.

Everything is pretty much fixed back to stock now...
The big 3 are on the list for the Christmas tree dash lights.

Body work will be last, but 90% of it is alread popped out or the sheet metal replaced.

Carry on Soldiers.

These cars are well worth it.

The most trouble i have had was the darn alarm, keys, codes and programming.
But its like new now... Honestly 98% of it mechanically and electrically.

The stupid alarm saved this car... I know it. From adoption from the shop.

The plastic dog bone throttle linkage and fuel pump and IMRC were probably what made the daughter ditch the car.

I'm pretty mechanical.. And i have to say that the engineering that went into this car is impressive.
Power steering pumps excluded.

3,659 Posts
One of my favorite cars growing up. Sister owned a 2000 Rio Red around 2004 and she could have came home in a Lamborghini and I wouldn't have been any more excited. Mom bought me a 99' Silverfro V6 MTX when I was still in High School that I am still driving 9 years later and love it probably more than I ever have.

221 Posts
I've always rather had a ford, wanted a fun little car- but there are just to damn many Mustangs. I know that you can sink a lot of money into these Cougars but I've really had good luck and a lot of fun on a small budget. I went to a car show last weekend and I bet there were 50 mustangs and 40 corvettes. Sure the Cobras were nice, saw a nice Roush and a really cool 79 mach 1. The dealer had 3 or 4 that were decked out and were really cool. But there were no 98-02 cougars - just one beaten 69 that need work but it was cool. I've always liked the body style and a couple of summers ago found one on Craig's list for $450 with a "locked Up" motor. turned out to be a locked AC compressor and i had it running in a couple days. It was pretty solid - no rust but dirty as hell. I took the carpet and the seats out and pressure washed them for about an hour... once they dried it went back together pretty well... thought maybe my Daughter would want it but instead i sold it for $1700. Thought that went pretty well so I bought 2 more fixed them -sold them and then 2 more and a couple of parts cars. Still have the parts cars but I'm getting busy at work now so I just decided to keep 2 (if you don't count the Laser Red MTX- ready for a 3.0 in storage) OK that makes 3 but don't tell my wife. The two I'm driving are a 35th anniversary edition auto with 67K miles that hit a deer and then went into storage for 8 years and a black Sport 2001 with ground effects kit with a blown engine. Just got the 3.0 in that one Last week and got a tag for it today. Drove it for a few miles but haven't put in the electric cooling fans yet so I didn't push it to hard. Anyway I would like to Autocross the Black 2001 sport next season.. I know I'm the old guy here - over the 50 hill, but having fun with these cool cars. My son drives a 2004 SVT Focus and we are going to the track as soon as the 3L is complete.

Main reason I like them--- there not a mustang!
Main thing i wish i could change --- Front wheel drive.

8,504 Posts
I always liked the looks, even when I saw them in commercials on TV. (I can't find the one that sticks out in my mind on Youtube, but it involved a spy driving a Cougar that changed into a different person when he hit a checkpoint.)

My mom worked at a Mercury dealer.

So I bought mine on June 7, 1999. Started my career job one week later. Still have the car, though practically everything else in my life has changed.

43 Posts
I always thought they were beautiful looking cars but had never driven one. When my daughter was turning 16, I had to get her a car. My oldest son was selling cars at the time so I went to see what he had. There was this 1999 Cougar, what I thought was grey but was actually Spruce Green Metallic. It had 60,000 miles and my son said he would let me have it for $5,000. I could not get over how nice the car drove, and handled. This was in 2005 I think. My daughter drove that car for 6 years before a truck made a left turn in front of her and the Cougar was totaled. Now she needed another car. I offered to get her a brand new car, but she wanted a Cougar. I found another one with 60,000 miles on it. This one was white, a one owner vehicle. I got it for $3,000, a grand less than I got from truck's the insurance company. She was driving it daily until this past September, when she got stuck because of a bad fuel pump. It was the first time she had ever been stranded in either of the two Cougars. So now she was afraid to drive it.

I traded her the Cougar with 105,000 miles for my 2006 Civic coupe with 104,000 miles and boy did I ever get the best of that deal. She is happy with the Civic and I LOVE this little cat. I also have a 1989 Mustang LX 5.0 coupe and a 1970 'Cuda. It is a great addition to my collection and I hope to have it for a very long time.
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