Ford Cougar (1998 – 2002) 2.5 V6 24V 3d. Part 2: Paradise City

A few months ago the latest car to grace the car park here at MotorMartin Towers arrived, looking rather wonderful resplendent in it’s faded, battered and bruised, classic Ford blue paintwork. The history of Ford’s attempts to recreate the popularity of their legendary Capri have already been covered in Part 1, Ford Cougar (1998 – 2002) 2.5 V6 24V 3d: Dreams Should Never Die and are interesting to say the least but this series is to be about the Cougar itself and the ownership experience of a modern classic, rather than it’s place in Ford’s illustrious history.

First impressions are always interesting, especially when the first time you see your recent acquisition is as it’s being unloaded into the car park of MotorMartin Towers and a brisk walk around the perimeter of the Cougar registers well. There’s nothing obviously missing so far, a few dents and scratches as is to be expected and overall, it all looks rather good for a car that rolled off the forecourt way back on 1st September 1999. Indeed, it could be said that with a little imagination, this Ford Cougar looks no different today to back then. Impressive.

But first impressions rarely last when it comes to second hand motoring as we all know, especially as the deeper you delve, the more fixes, bodges and broken elements come to the fore. Opening the driver side door and it’s clear that this particular model has been looked after as well as could be hoped for with the condition of it’s leather seats and steering wheel confirming the 65,000+ miles showing on the odometer. Lowering yourself down into the driver’s seat brings back memories of C866 AND, MotorMartin’s beloved and sadly gone 2.0l Laser Capri, and hints at the late 90s sporting potential of this Ford. And to be honest, it’s a sporting change that is more than welcome after a recent diet of SUVs up at MotorMartin Towers.

As with any new (but) old car, the choice is rarely random but is the end result of many, many hours of research, mixing memories of the model from back in the day with specification lists readily available on the various owner forums and club websites before choosing the exact model required. Then we have the daily ritual of AutoTrader, EBay and Gumtree mixed with the odd look at the local paper for luck. But let us not forget, the search is all part of the fun, indeed, work is easily stopped here at MotorMartin Towers when a recent news story inspires a search to get a new classic out in the car park.

But back to the Cougar in question. Sitting in the drivers seat it’s impossible to resist the urge to (hopefully) start the beast rather than do what should be done and methodically checking to see if the various buttons on the dashboard work or whether the electric window go down as well as back up. Indeed, MotorMartin’s Capri was replaced with a C-Reg Ford Orion 1.6i Ghia (with front spot lights of course,) which had a driver’s side electric window that was always more than willing to go down but regularly reluctant to return to a fully upright condition as Ford had intended, usually just as it started to rain. The Cougar then, key inserted and a turn to position 1 shows that the battery has life in it with the seatbelt warning beep responding well, the warning lights illuminating on the subtle panel set in front of the rear mirror and looking rather futuristic for 1999 whilst the fuel gauge slowly moves up to a quarter of a tank. There’s clearly some juice still in the battery so it’s everything crossed and a further turn of the key.

Well what do you know? The 1999 Ford Cougar 2.5 V6 24V 3d starts first time! Excitement building already but for now, it’s time to just enjoy the metronomic beats from Ford’s impressive V6 as it settles quickly into a steady idle, needle fluctuating slightly just below 1000rpm. Whilst allowing the engine time to warm up, surprisingly signalled by the Cougar’s fully functioning temperature gauge, a look under the car to check for leaks necessitates swapping the comfortable cabin for hard concrete and the bending of rather ancient knees. As with most areas of life, keeping dry is always important and so the lack of drips or anything untoward under the engine bay was another reason to be happy with the Cougar especially as the engine appears to be behaving itself really rather well after an indeterminate period of sitting still.

So what next?

A list of niggling jobs is being formulated as you read this with varying from the simple to the complex but with very few needed to be competed before being able to put a few hundred miles on the clock of this underrated late 90’s GT car (in my mind at least.)

  • A thorough service for peace of mind
  • New MOT
  • Windscreen washers are reluctant to work
  • Fix loose gearshift stick
  • Heated seats don’t work
  • Heated windscreen elements mostly given up
  • Boot leaks
  • Possible ingress of water into the cabin
  • Dull and flat paintwork
  • A variety of scratches and small dents
  • Small amount of rust starting to bubble on driver side rear wheel arch
  • Couple of sticking buttons on the ‘in car computer’
  • Full valet
  • No horn

And there we have it. Overall the Ford Cougar wears it’s 65,000 miles extremely well. It is a genuine one owner car from new but just needs a little love and attention and overall, it needs using. The next chapter in the life of the MotorMartin Ford Cougar 2.5 V6 24V 3d has just begun.

Where will you go?

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