Mercury (automobile)

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This article is about a former make of Ford Motor Company. For another defunct Ford entry-level luxury brand, see Merkur. For the defunct early 1900s car manufacturer, see Mercury (cyclecar). For the manufacturer of boat motors, see Mercury Marine.
Mercury
Former type Division
Industry Automotive
Fate Dissolved
Founded 1938, by Edsel Ford
Defunct January 4, 2011
Headquarters Dearborn, Michigan, U.S.
Key people Edsel Ford, founder
Products Automobiles
Parent Ford Motor Company
Website www.MercuryVehicles.com

Mercury was an automobile marque of the Ford Motor Company launched in 1938 by Edsel Ford, son of Henry Ford, to market entry-level luxury cars slotted between Ford-branded regular models and Lincoln-branded luxury vehicles, similar to General Motors' Buick (and former Oldsmobile) brand, and Chrysler's DeSoto division.

From 1945 to 2011, Mercury was half of the Lincoln-Mercury division of Ford; however, for the 1958-1960 model years, the Lincoln-Mercury division was known as Lincoln-Edsel-Mercury with the inclusion of the Edsel brand. Through rebadging, the majority of Mercury models were based on Ford platforms.

The name "Mercury" is derived from the messenger of the gods of Roman mythology, and during its early years, the Mercury brand was known for performance, which was briefly revived in 2003 with the Mercury Marauder. The brand was sold in the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Middle East. In 1999, the Mercury brand was dropped in Canada, although the Grand Marquis was still marketed there wearing a Mercury badge through 2007.

The Mercury brand was phased out in 2011 as Ford Motor Company refocused its marketing and engineering efforts on the Ford and Lincoln brands. Production of Mercury vehicles ceased in the fourth quarter of 2010.[1][2] The final Mercury automobile, a Grand Marquis, rolled off the assembly line on January 4, 2011.[3]

History[edit]

Mercury Town Sedan 1947

In 1937, Edsel Ford started a new company, more luxurious version of his company's mainline car, intended to bridge the enormous price gap between the highest trimmed Lincoln and the base Ford. The designs of the new car were done by E.T. 'Bob' Gregorie. There was debate within the company about whether this new intermediate car should be a new Ford model or spun off into a new marque. Over 100 different model and marque names were considered before "Mercury" was finally selected.[4][5]

The 1939 Mercury Eight began production in 1938, with a 239 cu. in. 95 horsepower (71 kW; 96 PS) flathead V8 engine. Over 65,800 were sold the first year, at a price of $916 (approximately $14,000 in 2010 dollars).[6][7] It was an all new car, sharing no body panels with either Ford or Lincoln. Its body was six inches wider than Ford and rode on a 116.0 inches (2,950 mm) wheelbase, four inches longer than Ford.

From the very beginning, Mercury was a division that seemed to have a brand identity that was constantly in the process of finding its place in the North American automotive market.[citation needed] Sometimes,[when?] Mercury was presented as a performance division of more mainstay Ford products, while at other times,[when?] it was meant to match sales with Detroit crosstown rivals Buick, Oldsmobile and Chrysler during the 1950s through 1980s.[citation needed] Many times, Mercury models were simply rebadged variants of Ford model, as with the Mercury Cougar (shared with the Ford Mustang, Thunderbird, and Elite), the Mercury Bobcat (shared with the Ford Pinto), or the Mercury Comet (shared with the Ford Falcon, Fairlane, and Maverick).

1945-1956: "Junior Lincoln"[edit]

1954 Mercury Monterey Sun Valley Hardtop Coupe
1956 Mercury Montclair 4-door Hardtop

Mercury was its own division at Ford until 1945 when it was combined with Lincoln into the Lincoln-Mercury Division, with Ford hoping the brand would be known as a "junior Lincoln," rather than an upmarket Ford. In 1949, Mercury introduced the first of its "new look" integrated bodies, at the same time that Ford and Lincoln also changed styling radically. Sharing much of its body styling with the 1949 Lincoln, the postwar Mercury Eight would become popular among customizers.

In 1952, the single-model Mercury lineup was doubled: as Ford redesigned the cars of all three of its divisions, Mercury replaced the Eight with the Custom and Monterey. The Monterey name first appeared in 1950 as a specially-trimmed Eight to compete against the hardtop coupes of General Motors. In 1954, Mercury replaced the long-running Flathead V8 with an all-new Y-Block V8. While the Lincoln division received its own engine, Mercury would receive a larger version of what was used in the Ford line.

In 1955, the Mercury lineup was expanded to three, adding the Montclair to the top of the lineup. As before, the body shared much of its styling with the standard Lincoln. For 1956, the Custom was replaced by the Medalist as the lowest-trim model.

1957-1960: Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln[edit]

1959 Mercury Park Lane Convertible Coupe

The end of the 1950s marked a split of Lincoln and Mercury. For 1957, Mercury was given a redesigned model lineup; for the first time since 1948, the division did not share a common body with Lincoln. While the lower-end Medalist was discontinued, Mercury gained a distinctive flagship in the Turnpike Cruiser. The pace car of that year's Indianapolis 500, the Turnpike Cruiser stood out in a crowd with its gold-colored fin trim and its reverse-slant retractable rear window. Alongside their Ford counterparts, Mercury station wagons became a distinct model line (Commuter, Voyager, and wood-grain Colony Park).

In 1958, the Lincoln-Mercury division underwent major changes as Lincoln moved upmarket with its much larger unibody-design cars along with the addition of the Edsel brand to the division. A five-vehicle division, Edsel shared its wagons with Ford and (depending on trim) its sedans with Ford and Mercury. In one move that proved fatal to the division, nearly the entire Edsel line overlapped Mercury in price.

In 1958, the division became the first automaker to sell production automobiles with an advertised 400-horsepower engine output; the Super Marauder V8 was an option in all Mercury vehicles.

In 1959, the rest of the Mercury line would adopt the body introduced by the Park Lane; the Turnpike Cruiser was discontinued. As all Edsels became Ford-based after 1958, the 1959 and 1960 Mercury lineup share bodies/platforms with no other Ford division.

1960s: Building a new tradition[edit]

1963 Mercury Monterey 2-door Hardtop (with "breezeway" rear window)

As the 1950s transitioned into the 1960s, the economic recession of the time significantly affected the mid-priced car lines of all American car manufacturers. The failure of Edsel and declining Lincoln-Mercury sales led Ford executives, led by company president Robert McNamara, to propose streamlining Ford Motor Company down to its namesake division. However, the Lincoln-Mercury division was given a second chance, but the 1960s would transition its identity.

In order to broaden its appeal, the division entered the compact car segment for the 1960 model year (one year before General Motors). Originally developed for the Edsel division, the Comet was a long-wheelbase variant of the Ford Falcon; powered by 90-hp inline-six, the 1960 Comet was the first Mercury vehicle ever sold without a V8 engine. As it was intended to be the entry-level Edsel, the Comet would not have any divisional badging for its first two model years (much like the Valiant from Plymouth).

1961 marked a major change to the full-size cars of the Mercury line. Due to slowing sales, the sedan lineup was trimmed down primarily to the Monterey. Bridging the price gap between the Ford line and the Monterey was the Mercury Meteor. As with the Comet, the Meteor was stillborn Edsel model that was put in production as a Mercury. In a major departure from their predecessors, the 1961 Monterey and Meteor were the first full-size Mercurys since 1948 to share a chassis with a Ford model (though with a longer wheelbase); to save costs, Ford switched the Mercury body away from a Lincoln-based chassis. As Ford expanded into the intermediate segment with the 1962 Ford Fairlane, the Meteor became its counterpart.

To further expand its model range and set itself apart from Ford, the division began to market an image of high performance, introducing "S" models of its three model lines for 1962. The S-22 (Comet), S-33 (Meteor), and S-55 (Monterey) all featured high-performance powertrains along with full-length consoles and bucket seats. For buyers seeking high-end luxury features, the Turnpike Cruiser made its return, in spirit, as its reverse slant "breezeway" rear window became an option on the 1963 Monterey. In addition, a fastback "Marauder" roofline became an option on both two door and four-door hardtops; while also shared with Ford, it helped the division gain ground in racing.

By the middle of the decade, the division had secured its future. No longer entangled with the failure of the Edsel brand, Mercury competed closely against Buick, Oldsmobile, the middle of the Chrysler range, and the top of American Motors range. While its 1965 full-size models were "built in the Lincoln tradition", the obvious inspiration of their square-edged styling, they again would derive their underpinnings from the Ford Galaxie range. To distance itself from the Ford Falcon, the Comet supeseded the Fairlane-based Meteor in 1966, thus growing into the intermediate segment.

1967 saw the introduction of two of the most successful nameplates of the brand. A slightly more luxurious clone of the Ford Mustang pony car, the Cougar was also meant to bridge the gap between the Mustang and the much larger Ford Thunderbird. To streamline its full-size line, the Marquis was introduced as the gradual replacement for both the Montclair and the Park Lane; it was the counterpart of the Ford LTD. Competing against the Chrysler New Yorker, the Oldsmobile Ninety Eight, and Buick Electra, the Marquis nameplate (in various forms) would survive until the final Mercury vehicle was produced in 2011.

Along with large luxury sedans, Mercury sought to keep high-performance cars in its lineup. For 1969, the Marauder became a stand-alone model replacing the S-55. While heavily based on the two-door Marquis, it wore its own bodywork from the windshield back. A personal-luxury coupe sized above the Ford Thunderbird, the Marauder was aimed at the Oldsmobile Toronado and Buick Riviera.

1970s: "Sign of the Cat"[edit]

1976-1978 Capri II
1978 Mercury Marquis Brougham 2-door
1979 Mercury Monarch 4-door in the Netherlands

For the Mercury division, the 1970s was not a gentle ride; in comparison to some competitors, it would fare better than some. Due to lower than expected sales, Mercury shifted its focus from performance/muscle cars back to luxury cars. The Marauder was discontinued and the Cougar began to be marketed as a competitor to cars such as the Oldsmobile Cutlass.

For the 1969 model year, the full-size Mercury line was given a redesign on an all-new chassis. Slimmed down to just base-trim Monterey and Marquis lines (with both the Marauder and Colony Park wagons based on the Marquis), the full-size Mercury line was the smallest since 1954. While openly based upon their Ford LTD counterparts, full-size Mercury sedans wore a longer wheelbase and Marquis-based models were distinguished by hidden headlights.

On the other end of size spectrum, Mercury introduced two new compact cars for the 1971 model year. A German-built captive import by Ford of Europe, the Mercury Capri was a compact sports coupe slightly larger than the Ford Pinto. After a two-year hiatus, the Mercury Comet nameplate made a return. Based upon the Ford Maverick, it returned the division to the compact segment marketed with the original 1960 Comet (with which both cars still shared chassis components).

In 1972, the intermediate Montego line was redesigned with a body-on-frame chassis; as part of the redesign, its dimensions grew, creeping into full-size territory. In addition to the fuel crisis, 1973 saw major change to the Mercury line. In various forms, all Mercury cars were given 5-mph bumpers. The full-size line was given a major restyling; while Ford (and later Lincoln) 2-doors would be given B-pillars, all two-door Mercurys would remain true hardtops.

In the middle of the decade, the division made several changes that moved the division further into the "near-luxury" segment, a well-timed decision due to the collapse of the performance-car segment. 1974 brought a redesigned Cougar; unlike the Mustang, the Cougar was grown in size. Now based upon the Montego, the Cougar was largely a rebadged Ford Elite styled much like the Ford Thunderbird. In 1975, the compact line was expanded as the Monarch was introduced. Originally intended as the replacement for the Comet, the Monarch (with its Ford Granada counterpart) created a new market segment altogether: the luxury compact car. While essentially a reskinned Comet, the Monarch was met with success; high-trim versions were popular choices as personal cars among Ford executives, including Henry Ford II. The full-size Mercury line was shifted closer to Lincoln in market position, as the long-running Monterey was discontinued for 1975 and a new Grand Marquis was slotted between the Marquis and Lincoln Continental.

In a move to attract buyers attracted to fuel efficiency, Mercury introduced its version of the Ford Pinto, the Bobcat for 1975. The Capri was given a hatchback trunklid for 1976, and renamed Capri II. While the Bobcat was not met with success, due to its ties to the Ford Pinto, the Capri proved quite popular, trailing only the Volkswagen Beetle in imports.

After years of struggling against its competition, Mercury made a major change in the marketing of its intermediate cars for 1977. Although only given a minor facelift, the intermediate Mercury line dropped the Montego name in favor of Cougar. Previously a personal luxury coupe, the Cougar was now available in sedan and station wagon bodystyles (the latter for 1977 only). The move proved successful, as Cougar sales nearly tripled.

In 1978, Mercury sales peaked at an all-time high of 580,000; nearly four out of ten 1978 Mercurys were Cougars. It marked a beginning of a transition of the Mercury model lineup. The long-running Comet was discontinued and imports of the Capri II were ended. Replacing the Comet was the Zephyr, borrowing a name used by Lincoln in the 1930s. A counterpart of the Ford Fairmont, the Zephyr was based on the all-new Fox platform. A rear-wheel drive chassis using 4, 6, and 8-cylinder engines, the Fox platform would serve as the basis for a number of mid-size Ford and Lincoln-Mercury cars from the 1970s into the 2000s.

For 1979, the first variant of the Zephyr would enter production as the Capri made its return. A clone of the all-new Ford Mustang, it would be sold until 1986.

1980s: Downsizing and starting over[edit]

1982 Mercury Cougar GS wagon
1987 Mercury Topaz
Mercury Tracer

At the end of the 1970s, the fuel crises that had led to the collapse of the American performance-car segment were poised to become a major threat to the luxury-car segment; the era of the landyacht was in its own decline. While Mercury would enter the 1980s trailing many of its competitors, its 1979 redesign of the Marquis/Colony Park would see significant success in the marketplace. While downsizing would leave the full-size line externally smaller than the Cougar, the new Marquis/Colony Park increased interior space and fuel economy; rear-wheel drive and a V8 engine remained standard. In a step backwards, the Marquis then only externally differed (significantly) from the LTD in the shape of its taillights.

For the mid-size Mercury lineup, however, downsizing would prove disastrous. To distance it from the new full-size line, the Cougar was redesigned for the 1980 model year on the Ford Fox platform; along with the Ford Thunderbird and Granada, the Cougar was a luxury model of the Zephyr/Fairmont. As cars grew smaller, the previously compact Zephyr/Fairmont had now entered the mid-size segment. The lack of differentiation and controversial styling coupled with a struggling economy hit Cougar sales hard; 1980 sales fell to barely one-third of 1979 levels.

At the bottom end of the size scale, the division began to carve out a new identity. In 1981, the Bobcat was quietly replaced by the Lynx, a clone of the Ford Escort. The first front-wheel drive Mercury, the Lynx, also offered the first diesel engine in a Mercury (as an option). The LN7 variant of the Lynx was the only two-seat Mercury ever built; it was sold from 1982 to 1983.

In the mid-1980s, a major update to the model line helped to streamline and update the identity of the model lines throughout all three Ford divisions. For Mercury, to combat falling sales, the Cougar was given an all-new aerodynamic body; more significantly, it reverted to its role of a two-door coupe (a clone of the Thunderbird). The Cougar four-door was updated and re-branded as the Marquis; the full-size Mercury model line was now the Grand Marquis. In 1984, front-wheel drive made its appearance in compact-size Mercurys as the Topaz replaced the Zephyr; alongside its Ford Tempo clone, the Topaz was the first Mercury to offer a driver's-side airbag. While first introduced in the 1983 Cougar, the Topaz further advanced the aerodynamic, streamlined body soon to become commonplace throughout Ford Motor Company.

In late 1985, Mercury introduced the Sable alongside the Ford Taurus for 1986. Replacing the Marquis as the division's mid-size sedan and wagon, the design of the Sable sedan led it to be one of the most aerodynamic cars in the world at the time. Originally intended to be replaced by the Sable, stability in gas prices and demand for full-size car sales led to the continuation of the Grand Marquis and Colony Park. With the introduction of the Sable, Mercury began to introduce a styling feature that spread across many of its models for the next decade. The signature feature would be the (non-functional) lightbar grille; on all models, serif or script lettering would be replaced by chrome block lettering not seen on Fords.

For 1988, the Lynx was replaced by the Tracer, a version of the Ford Laser designed by Mazda, with US models being imported from Mexico and Japan, and Canadian models being imported from Taiwan.[8] Available as three- and five-door hatchbacks and a five-door station wagon, the Tracer was the first Mercury since the 1978 Capri II with no US-market Ford equivalent.

Merkur[edit]

Main article: Merkur

Beginning in 1985, Ford experimented with importing two European Fords under the Merkur (the German word for Mercury, pronounced mare-coor) nameplate. The Merkur lineup consisted of two cars: the XR4Ti (a federalized version of the Ford Sierra) and the Scorpio (a rebadged version of Ford's European flagship sedan). Merkurs were sold in participating Lincoln-Mercury dealerships throughout the United States and Canada. This approach was meant to revisit the success Ford had importing a European Ford to North America with the Capri during the 1970s.

After 1989, the brand was discontinued due to a combination of low sales and impending passive restraint regulations. Another key factor behind the demise of Merkur was an unfavorable exchange rate between the United States and West Germany; at US$27,000 (nearly $47,000 in 2010 dollars[7]), the Scorpio had a higher base price than a Grand Marquis yet bore a strong resemblance to the Sable.

The 1990s: Post-Merkur era[edit]

1994 Mercury Capri
1996-1998 Mercury Villager
Mercury Mystique
Mercury Mountaineer

As Ford ended the Merkur division in 1989, the Mercury division itself began a major transition during the 1990s. As distinguishing itself from counterpart Ford (and Lincoln) models was a key factor, renewing the model line was imperative. In 1989, the first completely new Cougar since 1980 was introduced. While again a personal-luxury coupe based upon the Ford Thunderbird, the all-new platform allowed for major improvements to interior room and handling.

In 1991, Mercury gained a model unique to the division as it revived the Capri name for a second time as an import from Ford of Australia. Envisioned as a competitor to the Mazda MX-5 Miata, the Capri was a four-seat convertible with a front-wheel drive layout. Although neither car was related to each other, both the Capri and the MX-5 used a number of Mazda 323 components. After a two-year hiatus, the Tracer made its return to the Mercury line. Now a clone of the Ford Escort, both cars were near-twins of the Mazda Protegé; unlike the Escort, only a 4-door sedan and station wagon were available. With only detail changes since 1979, the Colony Park station wagon was discontinued at the end of the model year; only 3,104 1991 models were produced as buyers had shifted towards minivans, full-size vans, and large SUVs to use as family vehicles.

For 1992, the best-selling (and oldest) models of the model lineup saw major updates. The Sable was given an exterior and interior facelift; while its aerodynamic shape remained familiar, only the doors and roof were carried over from the 1991 model. The Grand Marquis, nearly unchanged since 1979, was given an extensive redesign inside and out. While still sharing its basic chassis from before, no sheetmetal was carried over; an all-new overhead cam V8 engine was the first of its kind in an American full-size car. While still far more aerodynamic than its predecessor, the more conservative styling of the Grand Marquis helped win buyers over the more radical Chevrolet Caprice (and Ford's own Crown Victoria); sales doubled from 1991 to 1992 to become the division's best-selling model through much of the 1990s.

Mercury sales rebounded in 1993 to over 480,000, their highest level since the 1978 all-time high. In the mid-1990s the brand received some free advertising when country music star Alan Jackson scored a hit with a 1993 cover of K. C. Douglas' "Mercury Blues", a song which heaped praise on their vehicles. Ford later used a different version of the song in its truck advertising.[9] In 1993, the division would make up for the loss of the slow-selling Colony Park station wagon by the introduction of the Villager. A nameplate originally seen on many Mercury station wagons during the 1960s and 1970s, the Villager was jointly developed with Nissan (whose version was called the Quest). A front-wheel drive minivan assembled in the United States, the Villager was chosen over a version of the Aerostar, which Ford marketed as part of its light-truck line. In terms of size, the Villager was sized in between both sizes of the Chrysler minivans and marketed as a competitor to the luxury Chrysler Town & Country.

The middle of the decade saw some controversial moves from the division. For 1995, the dated Topaz was replaced by the Mystique. While the Ford Mondeo "world car" it was based upon was considered a mid-size car outside of North America, in the United States and Canada, the Mystique/Ford Contour were criticized for being some of the least roomy cars compared to their competition. In 1996, the Sable was given a controversial redesign. While the sedan was largely differentiated from its Taurus counterpart, it was not well received by buyers; sales of the Sable fell by nearly one-third from 1996 to 2000. In a less radical redesign than the Sable, the sedan version of the Tracer was redesigned alongside the Escort for 1997; unlike the Sable, the Tracer only differed from the Escort in its grille design.

As the 1990s progressed, the division further explored the use of family vehicles. While it would follow both the Oldsmobile Bravada and the Acura SLX, the 1997 introduction of the Mercury Mountaineer would begin to popularize the mid-size luxury SUV segment. Based on the Ford Explorer, the Mountaineer differed from its Ford counterpart in the fitment of all-wheel drive in place of four-wheel drive and a V8 engine was standard (initially). The Mountaineer is also notable for introducing the silver "waterfall grille", which became a common styling theme on virtually all succeeding Mercurys. In 1999, the Villager underwent a redesign alongside the Nissan Quest; a drivers'-side sliding door was added, as the lack of one had become a major sales obstacle following the 1996 redesign of the Chrysler minivans which included one.

By the end of the decade, the division began to slim its model lineup. After the 1997 model year, the Cougar was discontinued as the personal-luxury coupe market began to decline in demand. After 1999, the Tracer was discontinued; the Mystique was removed from production early in the 2000 model year.

1999-2011: Revival and decline[edit]

2000-2002 Mercury Cougar

By the end of the 1990s, the Grand Marquis had remained a sales success, becoming the top-selling Mercury product line. Although highly profitable, it posed a problem for Mercury dealers, as the mid-60s average age of a Grand Marquis buyer was far higher than what Lincoln-Mercury dealers were trying to attract into showrooms.[10][11] Over the next decade, a number of product changes were made in efforts to attract younger buyers towards the Mercury brand, but nonetheless, Mercury still struggled to appeal its brand identity to younger buyers.[citation needed] Although the division's full-size and mid-size sedans performed well in the marketplace, Mercury phased out smaller cars completely in favor of minivans and SUVs. The Tracer was discontinued in 1999 (three years before the Escort) and the Mystique was dropped in mid-2000.

For 1999, the Cougar was re-introduced after a year's hiatus. In a major shift from its personal-luxury predecessor, the 1999 Cougar was a front-wheel drive sports coupe based on the Mystique; it was largely intended as the successor to the Ford Probe. For the first time since the 1991 Capri, Mercury was given a product line with no direct Ford equivalent (in North America). After finding only moderate success with buyers, the Cougar ended production in 2002. 2003 would lead to the revival of the Marauder nameplate. Not unlike its 1969-1970 predecessor, the 2003 Marauder was a higher-performance variant of the Grand Marquis that was also similar in many ways to the 1994-1996 Chevrolet Impala SS. Due to lack of marketing, the Marauder was discontinued after 2004.

In 2004, the Monterey would replace the Villager. A clone of the Ford Freestar, the Monterey gave Mercury its first direct competition against the Chrysler Town and Country and other luxury minivans. As the minivan segment was in decline, neither Ford nor Mercury was able to gain any ground; Ford ended minivan production in 2007.

Last revival[edit]

2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid photographed at the Washington Auto Show.
2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid

During the mid-2000s, after relative stagnation, the Mercury range was targeted for major updates to attract new (primarily, younger) buyers.[citation needed] Coinciding with Ford's planned replacement of the Taurus, the Sable was discontinued in 2005. Coinciding with the new Ford "F" model scheme, Mercury began the exclusive use of "M" model names with new products. Reaction to the Mercury naming scheme is less extreme, as it used several previously-used nameplates. In 2005, the division re-introduced the Montego as one of the two models to replace the Sable. A clone of the Ford Five Hundred, the Montego also was the first new full-size Mercury since 1992; the Grand Marquis remained in production. The Mariner was introduced as the clone of the Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute. For 2006, the mid-size replacement for the Sable was introduced; the Milan was a clone of the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ/Zephyr. Alongside its Ford counterpart, the Mercury Mariner became the first production gasoline-electric hybrid SUV in 2006.

In 2008, after sales had fallen to one-third of 2000 levels, the division began to make major changes to its full-size cars. In contrast to the Dodge Charger selling nearly as well as its Chrysler 300 counterpart, the Montego sold only a fraction in comparison to its Ford Five Hundred counterpart and was also outsold by the Grand Marquis as well. In a move along with Ford, the Five Hundred and Montego were given an update and re-branded as Taurus and Sable to capitalize on the familiarity of the latter two nameplates; although nearly unchanged since 2003, the Grand Marquis remained in production as well. The Monterey was discontinued, as Mercury focused on the Mariner and the Mountaineer. Also in 2008, Ford started an ad campaign that focused exclusively on attracting female drivers to the brand in hopes of making it more profitable.(strangely, this was just the opposite of the marque's 1960's image, when Mercury was branded as "The Man's Car").[12][13][14] Yet ironically, this only narrowed Mercury's brand image and buyer appeal even deeper, and sales continued to fall.

Discontinuation[edit]

2008-2009 Mercury product lineup

On June 2, 2010, Ford announced the closure of the Mercury line by the end of the year. In terms of sales, Mercury represented only 1 percent of North America's automobile market compared to the 16 percent share of Ford. Ford Motor Company has stated that additional Lincoln models will be introduced to help replace any shortfall from the discontinued Mercury brand.[6] At the time of the announcement of Mercury's closure, Mercury was selling fewer than 95,000 units a year, which is less than both Plymouth and Oldsmobile right before they were phased out.[15] The Mercury Mountaineer was discontinued in the 2010 model year, with the remaining Mercurys following suit after an abbreviated 2011 model year. Mercury's U.S. sales in 2010, its final full year, were 93,195.[16] After the Mercury brand was discontinued in 2011, Ford stripped all Mercury branding from its Lincoln-Mercury dealers.

Sales figures[edit]

Sales Figures (2000–2010)
Year 2000 2001[17] 2002[18] 2003 2004[19] 2005 2006[20] 2007 2008[21] 2009[22] 2010[16] Total sales
(2000–2010)
Grand Marquis 122,572 112,034 80,271 79,147 76,116 64,716 54,688 50,664 29,766 24,783 28,543 723,300
Milan           5,321 35,853 37,244 31,393 27,403 28,912 166,126
Mariner         7,171 34,099 33,941 34,844 32,306 28,688 29,912 200,961
Mountaineer 46,547 45,574 48,144 49,692 43,916 32,491 29,567 23,849 10,596 5,169 5,791 341,336
Montego         2,974 27,007 22,332 10,755       63,068
Sable 103,030 102,646 98,998 61,342 42,737 24,149   10,366 16,187 6,256 37 465,748
Marauder       7,839 3,213             11,052
Mystique 16,208                     16,208
Cougar 40,343 29,487 19,345 2,024               91,199
Villager 30,443 22,046 16,442                 68,931
Monterey       2,213 17,407 8,166 4,467 700       32,953
Total Mercury Division Sales 359,143 311,787 263,200 202,257 193,534 195,949 180,848 168,422 120,248 92,299 93,195 Total Sales (2000–2010)
2,180,882

Mercury in Canada[edit]

During the middle of the 20th century, Ford Motor Company's smaller dealership network in Canada necessitated some branding changes to attract buyers into showrooms. This was especially the case in smaller, rural communities, as many were located close by either a Ford or a Lincoln-Mercury dealer, but rarely both of them.

Monarch[edit]

Main article: Monarch (automobile)

From 1946 to 1957, Ford of Canada marketed the Monarch brand in their own showrooms to attract mid-price customers. The Monarch line used much of the body and trim of the Mercury line in a three-car lineup (Richelieu, Lucerne and Sceptre). The Monarch brand was dropped for 1958 and replaced by the Edsel; poor Canadian sales of the Edsel led to the revival of Monarch for 1959. The introduction of the Ford Galaxie led to brand overlap, leading for Monarch to be discontinued for good in 1961.

In 1975, the Monarch nameplate would return as part of the Mercury lineup (in both the United States and Canada) as the clone of the Ford Granada.

Meteor[edit]

Main article: Meteor (automobile)

In 1949, Mercury of Canada introduced the Meteor brand in an effort to expand into lower-price markets (most closely against Pontiac). As the Mercury of the time was largely a Lincoln body with a Ford powertrain, the Meteor offered a lower price by combining the Ford Custom body with Mercury grille and trim. During the 1950s, this arrangement continued, expanding into a multiple-model line (Niagara, Rideau, and Montcalm). For 1962 and 1963, the brand was dropped, as Mercury adopted the name for its new intermediate-size line. For 1964, the brand was revived, taking the place of the Mercury Monterey in Canada. Again a line of Mercury-trimmed Fords, Meteor was gradually phased into the Mercury lineup starting in 1968. After 1976, the Rideau and Montcalm were discontinued; replaced by a Meteor trim level at the base of the Canadian Mercury Marquis line. Marquis Meteors were dropped after the 1981 model year.

Trucks[edit]

1947 Canadian Mercury M-Series truck

In an effort to increase the availability of its truck lineup, Ford offered rebadged trucks in its Mercury dealerships starting in 1946. While initially applied to the Ford F-Series light trucks (becoming the M-Series), Mercury offered many counterparts of the Ford truck line. Other products included medium-duty conventional trucks, MB-Series school bus chassis, and its own versions of the Econoline van/pickup and the C-Series COE truck.

Early versions of the M-Series often came with a higher output (CM-1 designated) Mercury/Ford Flathead V8 engine over and above the unique Mercury-specific grille, badging and trim that adorned every Mercury M-Series truck.

After 1968, Ford discontinued production of Mercury trucks; the Mercury version of the C-Series cabover ended production in 1972. With the discontinuation of the M-Series and Mercury Econoline, Mercury would not again sell a light truck until the 1993 Villager minivan.

Brand identity[edit]

the original "God's Head" logo seen on a 1965 Mercury Comet Caliente

The lack of a distinct personality showed through in the cars, although there were some unique twists to 1980s Mercurys. Some examples include the roofline of the 1983 Cougar (influenced somewhat by the AMC Gremlin), the 1986 Sable (which had a lightbar in place of a conventional grille), and the 1988 Tracer (a clone of a Mazda-designed Australian Ford built in Mexico and Japan). By 1990, the lone remnants of Mercury's 1970s identity were the Grand Marquis luxury sedan and Colony Park station wagon; both had received only superficial updates since their 1979 downsizing.

[edit]

The first logo of the Mercury brand was its namesake, the Roman god Mercury. The side profile of his head, complete with the signature bowl hat with wings was used during the early years, seen in the picture to the right.

In the 1950s, the logo became a simple "M" with horizontal bars extending outward from the bottom of its vertical elements in each direction.[23] This was described in advertising as "The Big M", and it was well known as the prime sponsor of The Ed Sullivan Show in the late 1950s.

During the late 1960s and up to the mid-1980s, the Mercury used the "Sign of the Cat" ad campaign based on its popular Cougar model. Many of the cars during this time carried cat related names such as the Lynx and Bobcat. On some of the upper-tier models, such as the Marquis and Grand Marquis, Mercury used a shield or cross, sometimes surrounded by a wreath, which was shared by some de luxe Ford models as well. Some models used the Lincoln brand's logo.

During the mid-1980s, the logo changed from the Cougar to its final logo, seen in the logo at the top of the page. This logo was introduced on the all new 1984 Mercury Topaz. Since 1999, the word "Mercury" appeared on the top part of the logo.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "'It's time:' Ford to close Mercury by year's end". USATODAY.com. 2010-01-06. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  2. ^ Maynard, Micheline (2010-06-02). "Ford Appears Ready to End Its Mercury Brand". New York Times com. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  3. ^ "Last Mercury rolls off the line as Mercury rolls into history". AutoWeek.com. 2011-01-04. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  4. ^ Special-Interest Autos: 19. July–August 1974. 
  5. ^ Daniel Vaughan. "1941 Mercury Model 19A news, pictures, and information". Conceptcarz. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Durbin, Dee-Ann; Krisher, Tom (2010-06-02). "Mercury falling: Ford eliminates mid-range brand". Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-06-03. [dead link]
  7. ^ a b "The Inflation Calculator". Westegg.com. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  8. ^ Canada Buys Taiwan Tracers, Taiwan Info, 14 July 1986
  9. ^ Allmusic biography
  10. ^ http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?30546-Car-Buyers-Average-Age-by-Make-Model
  11. ^ http://www.smart-news.biz/2007/07/top-10-luxury-vehicles-with-lowest.html
  12. ^ http://clickamericana.com/eras/1960s/mercury-the-mans-car-1966
  13. ^ http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2012/07/05/mercury-the-mans-car-1967/
  14. ^ http://auto.howstuffworks.com/1968-mercury-park-lane.htm
  15. ^ Raja, Siddharth (2007-09-03). "Mercury ever closer to getting the axe". Autoblog.com. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  16. ^ a b http://media.ford.com/images/10031/Dec10sales.pdf
  17. ^ http://media.ford.com/article_download.cfm?article_id=10507
  18. ^ "Ford's F-Series Truck Caps 22nd Year in a Row as America's Best-Selling Vehicle With a December Sales Record". Theautochannel.com. 2004-11-17. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  19. ^ "Ford achieves first car sales increase since 1999". Theautochannel.com. 2006-01-04. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  20. ^ "Ford Motor Company 2007 sales". January 3, 2008. 
  21. ^ "F-Series drives ford to higher market share for third consecutive month" (PDF). Ford Motor Company. January 5, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  22. ^ http://media.ford.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=31604
  23. ^ "1956 Mercury Montclair Sport Hardtop Coupe photo – Ken Leonard photos at". Pbase.com. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 

External links[edit]