If one didn’t know any better, one might look at the final Mercury Cougar and think it’s a nimble sports coupe. It looks angular, has nice lines, and was initially designed as the third-generation Ford Probe. And while it has some (distant) sporting pedigree from its European Ford Mondeo roots, the Cougar more closely mirrors that chubby cat who can’t be bothered to chase the laser pointer. These things, of course, make it perfect for the 24 Hours of Lemons and this week’s Hella Sweet Lemons Car of the Week, the Beer and Jelly Beans Mercury Cougar.
We first saw this team at Autobahn Country Club in April 2018. With such a Rad car, it made sense to have a (kind of) period-correct theme. Ecto Cooler was, of course, the nostalgia fuel for many a 1990s kid. The tangerine-flavored, sugar-laced “juice” came packaged with a heavy dose of Ghostbusters tie-in. And what more could you want than to pretend to be drinking ghost piss?
Anyway, the Ecto Cooler-themed Cougar was elaborated upon with a set of sextuple-exit exhausts. They looked the part of Zoomies down to sooting the Cougar’s rear quarter panel. Sure, it may have just been a Fibonacci-style set of “branches,” but in Lemons, looks matter more than anything. All of this earned them the Judges Choice at their first race at Autobahn.
Under the hood, the team painted the Duratec V6’s intake runners to match the overall color scheme. That’s a nice tough and always appreciated by the Lemons Supreme Court. The Duratec itself has proven a mixed bag in Lemons. The Knoxvegas Lowballers won a race overall with a Duratec in their Geo Metro. However, anything that goes wrong with the same engine in a Contour or Cougar becomes a time-consuming, knuckle-busting affair.
For 2020, the Cougar returned with a Rad retheme, having been turned into Cougar Park. Really, the Jurassic Park Jeep or Explorer colors look good on everything, but the Cougar wears them particularly well. So how does it “perform” when “racing?” Well, Beer and Jelly Beans have turned their Cougar into a reasonably quick car, usually in or near the top quarter of the field in finishing position and lap times.