STREETSIDE: A Vandalized 1982 Mercury Cougar Wagon

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For one spare year, the Cougar name was applied to the Ford Fairmont wagon. This example was abandoned, and then it was slashed and smashed.

I shot this Cougar more than a decade ago up near Sebastopol in Northern California. It was a rare and well-optioned car that likely came to its end in a junkyard, despite its rust-free-ness and blue-plate-ness.

It was left by the side of the road and then has its windows smashed out. The whitewall tires on this side were slashed as well. Note how the paint was wearing off around the hatch; maybe that’s why the owner gave up on it.

Or maybe it blew its transmission. Any way you look at it, it’s a terrible shame that this apparently roadworthy car came to a such a stupid end.


The rarity of this car stimulates interest, but the 1982 Cougar Wagon was at the time  far from the edge of contemporary car design.

Its basic shape had been locked in sometime in 1977, and model year 1982 was distracted by the overrun of Japanese imports into the US market.

This Couagar’s wire wheel covers and excess chrome shows how rooted it was in the decade previous to its sale. Old and out of touch was Mercury in 1982. But this one’s blue plates indicate that it was bought new in California.

Inside, you’d buy the 1982 Cougar Wagon if you’d wanted comprehensive surface detailing and more than a dash of fake wood. The ribbed vinyl on the door panel is not appealing in any way, and the worn and cracked steering wheel indicates the somewhat short life span Ford had planned for this car. Maybe your 1982 wagon would get you to 1990, or maybe not.


The wheel was fascinating, with elements of added luxury that didn’t last. The thin rim of applique degraded into a jagged state and in doing so did not honor its maker.

Still, it’s nice that this Cougar had a clock, and there were no splits on the dashboard top. Damn shame this Cougar was smashed up like this.


In 1981, Mercury made 16,283 Zephyr wagons, which were then sold as Cougars in 1982 to the tune of 19,294 units.

Meanwhile in 1982, Ford made more than 45K+ Granada wagons, which also were spawned from the Fairmont platform and differed from the Cougar in very small ways.

The Cougar wagon didn’t set the world on fire, but it did serve its buyers well with a tried-and-true formula. Too bad this one came to such a demonstrably compromised end.

Tell us in the comments – what do YOU think of this one-year wonder?


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