The beltline is so low on these cars the door armrests are pretty pointless anyway. I've only ever rested my left arm on the window sill, I find it downwrite awkward to use the door armrest in any car period(hence why I hate most newer cars which have molded plastic door panels and gunslit windows), the 94+ "armrest" to me is more of a smooth way to integrate the door pull.
I think you nail everything I dislike about the 94+ interiors, I'd also add that the console lid should have been leather wrapped or at least padded with foam a tad less dense, and I'd much prefer that to padded door armrests. The other thing is these cars are indeed very driver oriented, so much so that every update made the interior worse and worse for passengers lol. I absolutely abhor riding shotgun in a 94-97 interior, the dash vents are right at my knees, as is the door lock button on the side, the console is as high as the great wall of China and given the often/mandatory equipped manual passenger seat you can't do anything to at least maximize what comfort you have either. In back the legroom is ok, but the footroom is terrible due to the narrow seat tracks and the giant fuel tank, then in 96 the armrests(which were actually nice back there) were taken away.
And personally I love the way American cars were designed all through the 60s and very early end of the 1970s, safety and efficiency notwithstanding it was PEAK automobile to me, everything since pales. I never liked the over Euroing of cars in the 80s - I'll always prefer RWL tires or whiteline tires on a tall sidewall to blackwalls, I'll always prefer chrome trim to black rubber, and I'll always prefer woodgrain to plastic or carbon fiber.
I agree, it all got way overdone in the 70s to the point of revolt but the full blown Eurolook was an overcorrection IMO. Ford in the 80s was great because they did actually keep a lot of that stuff around and nicely blended it into the European inspired styling/ergonomics, giving you the best of both worlds. Even 89-93 MN12s were loaded with wood in base/LX/LS/92-3 XR7 trim, which always looked better to me than the pleather/faux carbon fiber trimmed SCs inside.
I'm a huge fan of automobiles history and styling. As much as nothing else it shows a lot of what the current trends were. Automobile magazine is fascinating simply because they would interview the designers and you get the back story of the goals of the projects. Stuff like Irv Rybicki talking about how one of the goals on the mid to lake sixties Caddy's was to elimate any visible fasteners on the exterior and interior. Or that the Seville project started with the GM Nova X car series unit body and then they used Fast Founier Transform computer modeling to eliminate NVH from the pan stamping. Which was a first for them. Or that a lot of how a cars styled and built is determined by tooling constraints.
I like stuff of all eras. All manufacturers. The seventies in general was a the dark ages of American car manufacturing. In doing a lot of research online lately regarding the MN12 and its history and predecessors I've come across a lot comments poking fun of the mid to late seventies disco barges. People don't seem to realize exactly what impact the fuel crisis. EPA emission mandates. Federal safety regulations and budding CAFE requirements had on cars. Performances was dead. Not because Detroit wanted to make underpowered cars. But emission regs at the time coupled with the current technology simply strangled HP and drivability. Added safety gear made the cars much heavier and compounded the issue. If you can't sell performance you upsell luxury. It was the only route avaible to increase market share. So stuff like velour interiors, vinyl tops, WSW tires. Wire wheels became the new cool. Formal was in. If you couldn't go fast you might as well look good going slow.
Mercury. The Mans Car
Oh how that wouldn't fly today. But in the 1960s they where. There nothing the least bit feminine about a 67 XR-7. It looks like a giant electric razor
and damn good too. Contrast this with Mercury of the '00's where the Mariner and Milan were marketed towards woman. Times change, taste changes and markets change. And the cars evolve to meet their markets.
It's interesting. According to Aerocats the "Feature Cars" and anniversary specials can be traced back to the Clevelander specials ordered by the dealers group here. Cougars in general were extremely popular and these dealer specials did indeed sell like hot cakes. And apparently between those and the Bostonian Editions the feature car program evolved. So there's some weird heritage here I'm seemingly trapped in
None of this has much to do with the thread mind you. I'm just trying to rationalize that a little wood in a cougar would be entirely out of place. But the wraparound theme does not lend itself particularily well to that. I might at some point try to find some earlier rear side panels and dye them. Your correct about the seat tracks in the rear. I think the proper technique is to Jam you feet under the front seat and and then make sure you kick and knock the track trim off. It's kinda fun watching someone do the shoulder harness limbo too. But there's much more room than a Fox body for your feet. Those were always shocking in just how little foot room there was.