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The Mercury brand has had its ups and downs since its founding in 1938. Customers have learned to avoid several models from the automaker over the years, even some in the classic car market.
The 1998 Mercury Cougar, with its intriguing aesthetics and mixed reviews, is one of those classic cars that requires a little extra pre-purchase research. Though its design turned heads, it was also criticized for some noticeable shortcomings.
The 1998 Mercury Cougar's "New Edge" design
Although it was marketed for the 1999 model year, this Mercury Cougar, the first ever to be produced with front-wheel drive, was actually built in 1998.
Auto Evolution noted that "the new Cougar featured sharp styling cues and a round contour," part of Mercury’s “New Edge” design.
This design had some unique attributes, highlighted by a small front grille, a lower air intake, blistered taillights as well as some cool projector and cat-eye headlamps
Under the hood of the manual five-speed coupe, buyers had a choice between a 125-hp 2.0-liter ZETEC engine, which came standard, or a more powerful 170-hp 2.5-liter V6, according to Auto Evolution.
The 2.0-liter took 10 seconds to accelerate from zero to 62 mph and reached a top speed of just over 130 mph. According to Car and Driver, the 2.5-liter V6 was capable of reaching 60 mph in just 7.7 seconds.
It was equipped with a new safety feature—side-impact airbags—and its stereo system also had a removable front panel to help prevent theft.
The inside of the 1998 Mercury Cougar was practically-appointed and fairly spacious. The feeling was cozy and clean, according to Auto Evolution, with a simple dashboard and center console layout. Cargo space was respectable, made more so by the foldable back seats.
The back seats, themselves, were not particularly spacious, providing only minimal legroom. While the front seats were more spacious and offered lateral and lumbar support, Auto Evolution noted that they were slightly too firm.
Some less-than-stellar long-term reviews featured in Car and Driver built upon this sentiment, noting some other qualms with the vehicle.
What were reviews like for the 1998/1999 Mercury Cougar?
Driver’s seat comfort concerns were top-of-mind for many reviewers, who mentioned that the lumbar support feature, in particular, was very bothersome.
According to Car and Driver, one reviewer summed up their experience: “Haven’t gotten comfy in the seat in 42 miles.”
Reports like these were plentiful, although Car and Driver did note that the optional leather seats (as opposed to the cloth-upholstered standard inclusions) potentially offered more padding and comfort for an extra $895 on top of the $17,095 base price.
Another issue arose with regard to the 2.5-liter V6 engine, which sometimes took longer than necessary to return to idling when stopped.
Despite these faults, there were positives to the 1998/1999 Mercury Cougar. Car and Driver praised the look of it, quoting a 1997 Car and Driver publication stating that they'd been "smitten by its distinctive elegance" when the Mercury initially came across their radar as a concept car.
They continued that it was “the coolest ride to wear Mercury badges since the division was established back in 1938,” and matched agility with “aggressive good looks.”
Acceleration and braking were adequate to impress Cougar drivers, though the five-speed manual transmission was labeled as "notchy."
Despite some overall positive traits, the lack of comfort was a big red flag for Car and Driver’s test drivers, who reportedly avoided driving the Cougar on long trips.
Getting car insurance for your classic car
Just like regular auto insurance, classic car insurance can provide liability, comprehensive, collision, and other types of specialized coverage.
However, the fact that classic car insurance typically covers your vehicle based on its appraised value makes it unique. This is because classic cars usually increase in value as they age, while other cars tend to depreciate over time.
Although criteria differ based on your insurance provider, a car can be considered a classic when it reaches between 10 and 24 years of age and has achieved some level of historical interest. Other insurers attribute any car more than 25 years old to classic car status.
Policies can include various other qualifiers like a solid driving record, secure storage practices, and limited vehicle usage.
If you’ve got a classic car or are thinking of purchasing one, Jerry is the easiest and most effective way to find a car insurance policy that is customized for you.
After providing you with a comprehensive cross-analysis of the best policies across providers, Jerry will handle the phone calls, paperwork, and renewals for your top pick so that you don’t have to. They even help cancel your old policy! So why do all that extra work when Jerry can do it better?