Junkyard Treasure: 1998 Mercury Mystique with 5-Speed Manual Transmission

Ford spent the 1970s and 1980s trying to get Americans to buy the products of the company’s European operations, with lukewarm results for the likes of the Capri, Fiesta, XR4Ti and Scorpio. That plan didn’t work out so well, but the first-generation Ford Mondeo proved to be such a hit in Britain that it seemed to make sense to try an American version. Over here, the Ford-badged version became the Contour and its Mercurized sibling the Mystique. Here’s a 1998 Mystique in a Phoenix car graveyard; this is a rare find to begin with, but it has the impossibly rare five-speed manual transmission to boot.

In 1998 the five-speed manual was base equipment for the Mystique, with the four-speed automatic costing an additional $850, but this is the first Mystique I’ve ever seen that didn’t have two pedals.

Mercury shoppers couldn’t get the big 3.0-liter Duratec with its 200 horses in the Mystique; for that, they had to go for the bigger Sable (with slushbox-only powertrain) or cross the street to the Ford dealership and grab a Contour SVT. This car has the 170-hp Duratec 2.5-liter displacement. Since Contour SVTs have become so affordable, it wouldn’t cost much for a Mystique owner to swap in the bigger engine today. Let’s hope one does so.

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