Kind of what I was thinking.
Unfortunately I don't see myself keeping this car very long, it's a great ride but it just needs too much and I don't have the time to fix it. Exhaust, strut rod bushings extinct, and an exploded heater core are the main killers, plus 21 MPG isn't helping.
The only killer is the exploded heater core.
The BUSHINGS are not extinct, the FERRULES are. If your ferrules are in good shape, you can replace the bushings.
Let's just say it's easier to do those, than the trailing arms on my 2000 Malibu. A lot cheaper, too.
Exhaust is fairly easy with money and time. And my pricing so far on buy-it-and-put-it-on-myself (using Walker parts for both!) put the Cougar at the same price as my 2000 Malibu (!!!!) with the 3.1L V6.
The HEATER CORE, OTOH - seems like Ford managed to suspend the heater and evaporator cores in mid air and build the car around them. 'Course, the heater core on the Malibu is the same way ...
Plus, you can actually CHECK tranny fluid levels on the MN12s. I point again to my 2000 Malibu ... which has a sight plug in the side of the tranny, and needs to be on level ground at operating temp to check.
Just a little devil's advocate here.
Oh, and the ride. The RIDE. The 'Bu rides good, no question about that. It's nowhere near in the same class as the Cougar, though. That long wheel base helps. Enough that I'll pay the 2MPG penalty to drive the Cougar for my DD.