Richard Bennett (supremebrougham) is the author of today’s MCC.
As a teenager in Florida in the early Nineties, most of my driving experience was in slow, four cylinder cars. You know the kind, where you press on the pedal and the car says “What? Oh, you want to move…okay…” I started out with a 1985 Buick Skylark, the last of the X-cars, and from there my parents put me into a stripper 1993 Toyota Corolla. Slow, boring but both did the job. I just figured this was how it was and made the most of it.
But my how things change…
In the summer of 1995 my parents and I spent the summer in Michigan visiting family. One day I wanted to get out and go somewhere. My Aunt Jackie was feeling generous and offered me the keys to her brand new Mercury Mystique LS V6. I had read about these cars, and based on what I had read, they sounded like they were a real alternative to European touring sedans. I knew that is was designed in Europe, and that Ford had spent six billion developing it. It certainly looked interesting at the time, so I said, okay, I’ll give it a go (besides, I was desperate for some wheels for the day).
As I made my way out of the subdivision all seemed well enough. The car was roomy and confidant. However, once I made it out to the intersection of Ecorse and Michigan Avenue in Ypsilanti, I realized that I need to change lanes as soon as the light changed. Based on what I was used to, I figured I would just have to floor it and hope for the best. What I got upon doing that was a squeal of the tires and this whoosh of power that pinned me to the seat! I had no idea that the car had a then state-of-the-art 24 valve DOHC V6 under the hood, making all of 170 horsepower. I know that doesn’t seem like much today, but after driving a couple of 90hp econoboxes, it was a revelation. Once I realized what I had, I went out and tried it in the twisties. Till this day it’s one of the nicest, most stable cars I have ever driven! In fact, it was reason why I later spent a few years driving Contours.
A few years later my aunt Jackie sold the car to my aunt Linda, and she drove it for about eight years, till the engine finally gave out at 106k. So my grandfather took the car and decided that he was going to replace the engine. My grandpa is a very accomplished mechanic and worked for Ford for many years as a transmission specialist, so he knows a thing or two about cars.
Well, once he began taking the engine apart he realized that this was so not a 1970’s Ford like he was used to wrenching on out back. It took him and my uncle Doug six months to take out the engine and transmission and replace them both, but they got it done! My grandfather ended up giving the car to my uncle Doug as a thank you for helping him to fix it. Soon after my Grandpa had a massive heart attack and almost died. It took a lot out of him, but he survived. He was glad that he was able though to bring a car back to life “one more time”.
A few months later, Aunt Linda, mentioned that her husband, my uncle Chris, was in need of a car, so my uncle Doug ended up giving the car back to them. Uncle Chris drove it to work and back for close to three years until the transmission decided to start shifting funny. He was all set to donate it to charity and just before he made the call, my Aunt Linda mentioned it to my grandparents. My grandpa immediately said “I DON’T THINK SO!” So they ended up trading one of their 1997 Grand Marquis (they had two) for the Mystique.
So there the car sat. They didn’t need it, as they still had the other 1997 Grand Marquis, along with a 1991 Cartier Town Car in the garage. Grandpa was going to sell it after fixing the transmission, but then he decided to ask me if I just wanted it. My grandparents knew I was thinking about selling my HHR to get rid of the payment, so it seemed perfect.
So, a little over fifteen years after I first got to experience power and control in that car, it was finally mine! It needed a little cleaning up and some TLC, but it still drove as wonderful as I remembered. I still have the car, but unfortunately it’s in dire need of some electrical work, and I so far have not been able to find anyone that can fix it. So I ended up with a beautiful 1995 Buick LeSabre Limited that I love for completely different reasons.
The Mystique is too nice to junk, so hopefully one day it will run again, and I can go back to driving with that smile on my face knowing that I am driving what to me was always, a poor man’s BMW, even though it’s just an old family heirloom.