About MercuryThe Mercury brand was created to fill a gap between high-end Lincolns and entry-level Fords. Brand identity was always a problem for the company--it lasted 72 years without having more than a handful of unique offerings.
Henry Ford's son, Edsel, named the brand after the Roman messenger god. The first cars rolled out of Dearborn, Michigan as 1939 year models. The pre-war cars were strongly identified as upscale Fords, but would become "junior" or "baby Lincolns" following the restart of automotive production in 1945. That year the two brands would be combined to form one division under Ford's corporate umbrella.
Among the most popular vehicles to customize are the first post-war Mercury designs. 1949-1951 Mercury Eights achieved a cult status, helped in part by 1955's "Rebel Without A Cause," starring James Dean. The Eights have become the definitive "lead sleds." Even in their own time they were popular... View more among hot rodders--Sam Barris modified a '49 that same year.
With Ford's corporate-wide restyling 1952, Mercury reverted to a more Ford-like appearance. The cars shared the same base body until 1957, when Mercury received its own body style through 1959. The Comet rolled out in 1960 as a versatile compact car. Four different body styles and two different trim levels were initially on offer. It was based on the Ford Falcon until 1966, when it switched to a midsize model based on the Fairlane. The 1971 revival shared the same platform as the Ford Maverick.
Mercury returned to performance and entered the pony-car war in 1967 with the Cougar--bridging the gap between the Mustang's performance and the Thunderbird's luxury. A GT-E performance package was made available in 1968 and featured a 427-ci 390-hp V8, modified grille and taillight design, stiffer front and rear springs, and more. In 1971, the Cougar became more of a sporty personal car akin to the Thunderbird, although a 429-ci 370-hp Cobra Jet V8 was still optional.
By 1980, every Mercury model had a Ford mate. The entire lineup was badge-engineered. A unique model would return in 1991's Mercury Capri, which was an import from Ford of Australia. The Mercury Villager, launched in 1993, was the result of a joint venture with Nissan and shared underpinnings with the Quest minivan. It was completely unrelated to Ford's Aerostar and Windstar.
The last Mercury model that wasn't a rebadged Ford was the 1999-2002 Cougar. A last performance hurrah by the company was the 2003-2004 Marauder. A modified Grand Marquis, it sported 302 hp as well as a limited-slip differential and aluminum driveshaft borrowed from the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. Sales fell short of expectations at 11,052 over the two-year model run.
In 2000, company sales were 359,143, and by 2009 sales declined 74% to 92,299. The final Mercury vehicle rolled off the St. Thomas Assembly production line in Talbotville, Ontario, Canada in January 2011--it was a white Grand Marquis. Instead of going to the company's private collection, it was sold to a fleet buyer. View less
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