Everyone remembers their first car; the sense of freedom, ownership, responsibility… As a 16 year old, I had set in my mind that my first car would be a Subaru WRX.
Unfortunately, a quick peek at insurance rates and used prices had me realizing it just wouldn’t be possible. However, the car I eventually ended up in is one I’ll never forget - a low mileage, silver, stick shift 2000 Mercury Cougar.
A local used dealership had been searching for a car for me, and the Cougar popped up in an auction down in Illinois in late 2009. I didn’t know much about the car at the time - the “New Edge” Cougar models (‘99-‘02) didn’t sell in huge numbers. Fortunately an active community over on the NECO forums provided a wealth of information about the car.
I was fortunate that the car itself was in amazing condition when I bought it, and babied the hell out of it for the over five years I owned it. It served me faithfully all the way through college, but began showing its age in late 2013.
With corrosion and rust starting to appear, and frequent alternator issues (a well-documented issue with that generation) I made the decision to upgrade to the Fiesta ST shortly after graduating in 2014.
In spite of all its issues, I still miss the Cougar. It was an awesome highway cruiser, making short work of the many back-and-forth trips I took home from college. Even with an aftermarket exhaust, I never found myself fatigued by drone, a rough ride, or cramped cabin. Plus, being a coupe meant it felt much more spacious inside than it actually was!
Over the years I made a few modifications:
- AEM intake
- Custom Magnaflow catback exhaust
- Roush spoiler
- Alpine head unit, speakers