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Happiness (and misery) is a stick-shift Mercury Milan

“Are you still interested in the Milan?” Wait… when did I say I was interested in the Milan? Come to think of it, when did I say that I was interested in any Milan?


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/11/26/happiness-is-a-stick-shift-mercury-milan

What’s not to like? Now you just need to paint it a nice color like that radioactive green Audi you had once.

I want to drive it sometime! It’s been a while since I’ve experienced a manual shift version of one of these…

In 2007, I drug my then-brand new girlfriend (now wife) on a road trip to a distant Ford dealer late on a Saturday evening to look at a supposed 95 Cobra R on the used car lot. The R was legit, but I was more enamored of the line of base model 5 speed Fusions in the back. The new girl, bless her, followed along behind and smiled encouragingly as I regaled her with tales of the wonder of finding so many clutch-activated Fusions in one place. She’s been indulging my automotive weirdness ever since.

“There’s just one frustrating aspect to the whole thing, and it’s this: I’d wager that 95 percent of the people who bought a Camry or Accord in 2008 would have been perfectly happy with this Milan.”

I don’t think so. I’ll wager that more than 5% of them were much happier because their Accords or Camrys were still worth huge percentages of their original prices in 2011 or 2012, when they traded them in on new CR-Vs or RAV4s. Milans, Fusions and Mazda 6s were already cheap used rental cars in 2009. I looked at a bunch of them when the woman in my life at the time wrecked her Altima.

I test drove a first year Fusion with the 2.3/5MT and was pretty unimpressed. The car was just a little too soft and rental-like, other than the third pedal.

A same year 6 was a bit better, but that short gearing wasn’t very appealing. I also read somewhere that the 6 speed manuals in 6/Fusions/Milans were fragile. Which seems really weird–how did Mazda screw up a manual transaxle?

In the end, a little later I bought an '07 Focus ST. Not a fire breathing turbo or anything, just a regular Focus with slightly stiffer suspension, better brakes, a non-VVT 2.3 and a 5 speed. Great little car. Sold 5 years later and replaced with a troublesome 3.7 6MT Mustang. Big mistake!

Any time someone puts more money into a car than it’s worth, I happily cheer them on. Putting $6K into a Milan doesn’t sound unusual to me. Seven years ago, I bought a one owner 3.8 liter '92 Taurus LX with 25 thousand miles for $5K. I put a few thousand more into it, along with quite a few hours to replace the struts, suspension bushings, all of the old rubber parts and to fully service the car. 25 thousand miles later, it’s worth about $850. I’m the only person I know who likes the car, except for the original owner. But I don’t care.

I recently restored a 1988 Mercedes 300CE. I’ve got over 200 hours and $20K invested in it. The car is now fully restored. One a lot like it sold on Bring A Trailer for $7K. But once again, I don’t care.

I used to feel apologetic for all of the stupid money that I spent on worthless cars…but no more.

Go for it Jack. Don’t apologize to anyone.

These cars are a big reason why people buy Japanese and Korean…Ford took a chassis designed by Mazda (in Japan, maybe US too?), and built in the good ole US of A…slapped uglier sheet metal on it, built it in Mexico, and charged more money than the comparably equipped Mazda 6. Real geniuses!

It’s a shame, given the obvious quality of this writer’s skills in putting words together, that every article he produces is peppered with unavoidable and boastful commentary about his automotive fleet, his newest acquisitions, and his money-no-object lifestyle. It gets tiresome quite quickly.

Jack, I agree about the 2.5 - I had a 2008 Fusion, which was perfectly balanced and a great driver, then I got a 2011 Fusion with the 2.5 and it was a very pleasant transformation! Equally balanced, but much more fun to drive! Then I got the ‘Aston-esque’ Fusion in 2014 and although still fun to drive the 2.5, not the same experience at all - great power, but too wide and long; and hard to get in and out of cause the seats were lower! still have a 2010 Escape with the 2.5, but my newer 2017 Escape has the 1.5 turbo - more power, but much less satisfying to drive. Good luck with your swap - it will make that car a blast to drive!

Agreed. But would still prefer that some of those CR-V and RAV4 drivers today would trade them in on Accords and Camrys.

You want weird? I bought a 1986 Ford Aerostar with the 5 speed manual. Drove it coast to coast and back. The hockey moms all thought my wife was nuts driving that contraption but we all are manual transmission people. Traded that on a 1992 Explorer, again with the third pedal.

I approve of throwing illogical money at nearly any non-SUV/CUV with three pedals and a decent greenhouse, especially if it’s painted a bright or unusual color. My Mom’s tennis-playing pals never understood the used first-gen Taurus SHO I encouraged her to buy, but she loved it. Life is unpredictable and short, stay amused.