Mercury Sable

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Mercury Sable
3rd-Mercury-Sable-sedan.jpg
Overview
ManufacturerMercury (Ford)
Body and chassis
ClassMid-size car (1985–2005)
Full-size car (2007-2009)
Chronology
PredecessorMid-size: Mercury Marquis
Full-size: Mercury Montego
SuccessorFord Taurus Limited (indirect)

The Mercury Sable is a range of automobiles that were manufactured and marketed by the Mercury brand of Ford Motor Company. Introduced on December 26, 1985 as the replacement for the Mercury Marquis, the Sable marked the transition of the mid-size Mercury product range to front-wheel drive. From October 1985 to 2005, the Sable was produced as a mid-size four-door sedan and station wagon, serving as the Mercury counterpart of the Ford Taurus (no Sable version of the Taurus SHO was produced). For 2006, the Sable was withdrawn, replaced by the smaller Mercury Milan and larger Mercury Montego. For 2008, alongside the return of the Ford Taurus, the Sable nameplate was revived; as a mid-cycle revision of the Montego, the Sable became a full-size sedan slotted below the Grand Marquis.

Due to low sales, Mercury discontinued the Sable after 2009, with the final vehicle produced on May 21, 2009.[1] In total, 2,112,374 Sables were produced during its 1985-2005 production.[2] As of the 2018 model year, the Ford Taurus/SHO remains in production in North America, though the 2010 closure of Mercury left the Sable without a direct successor.

The Mercury Sable derives its name from the sable, a weasel-like mammal from Russia that is valued for its smooth, dark fur.

First generation (1986–1991)[edit]

First generation
1989-1991 Mercury Sable
Overview
Also calledFord Taurus (Mexico)
ProductionOctober 1985-1991
AssemblyAtlanta, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
DesignerJack Telnack
Body and chassis
Body style4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
LayoutFF layout
PlatformFord D186 platform
RelatedFord Taurus
Lincoln Continental
Powertrain
Engine2.5 L HSC I4
3.0 L Vulcan V6
3.8 L Essex V6
Transmission3-speed ATX automatic
4-speed AXOD automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase106.0 in.
Length190.9 in. (1986-88 sedan)
192.2 in. (1989-1991 sedan)
193.2 in. (1989-1991 station wagon)
191.9 in. (1986-88 station wagon)
Width70.8 in.
Height54.3 in. (sedan)
55.1 in. (station wagon)
Mercury Sable wagon

The Sable was a very important sedan for both Mercury and the American auto industry. Ford had lagged in introducing mid-size front wheel drive cars to compete against General Motors' Chevrolet Citation and its best-selling Chevrolet Celebrity/Pontiac 6000/Oldsmobile Cutlass/Buick Century quartet as well as Chrysler's well-received K cars and Japanese offerings from Honda, Datsun/Nissan and Toyota.[3] The Mercury brand suffered even more from this delay. In 1983, Ford launched the redesigned Mercury Cougar to start a reinvigoration of the Mercury brand with new aerodynamic designs, and started development of the Sable.[4] Because of this design, the Sable was a resounding success and launched Mercury into a new design era, as well as influencing the other American automakers to follow suit and create more aerodynamic cars, thus ending the "boxy" cars of the 1970s and 1980s.[3]

The Taurus and Sable siblings used flush aerodynamic composite headlights. Ford was the first to produce and sell vehicles with such headlights in the U.S., when it introduced the Lincoln Mark VII in 1983. To do so, Ford (among other automakers) had to lobby the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to have them approved.[3] The Taurus and Sable were the first domestically-produced, mainstream sedans to use the new lights. They also went beyond the Audi 5000, with which they were often compared, to adopt a grille-less "bottom breather" nose, first pioneered by the Citroën DS in the 1950s, and also used briefly on the Mustang.[3]

The Sable was unveiled along with the Taurus in a resounding fashion. For its aerodynamic shape, the launch was held in MGM Studios Soundstage 85, where Gone with the Wind was filmed. Ford workers came into the room, which was decorated in space-age decor, holding cups shaped like flying saucers and the Taurus and Sable were sitting behind a curtain, their outlines silhouetting. Then, with the flashing of strobe lights and a drum-roll, the curtain was pulled back and the two cars were revealed to the public.[3]

The bodyshell was smooth and aerodynamic. The Mercury Sable was given its own front fascia; in place of a grille, the Sable was styled with a low-wattage "lightbar" between the headlights and fitted with clear turn signals, effectively wrapping around most of the distance from wheel to wheel. The design was also adopted in the Mercury Topaz and Tracer, with other automakers adopting variations of the styling into the early 1990s.[5][6][7]

Aircraft-style doors were used to reduce wind noise, and the handles were recessed. The Sable also had large glass areas with slim pillars, and were flush with the body. The rear glass wrapped fully around, and the B-pillars were painted black to give the illusion that the front and rear glass were connected. The interior was available with bucket seats — very rare for most U.S. midsize sedans — and the dashboard wrapped around the driver and fed into the door panels to create more of a "cockpit" feel.[8]

The Sable was first introduced as a 1986 model in December 1985, to strong sales and fanfare. It came in two models, base GS and high-end LS. Initial Sable sales were strong, and the Sable sold around 300,000 units its first year.[3]

For the first year on the market, Sable buyers had the choice of a 90 hp HSC 4-cylinder mated to a three-speed automatic transaxle or a 140 hp Vulcan V6 with a four-speed automatic, with the latter having much higher sales. 4-cylinder Sable sales were so poor that the engine was dropped in 1987 (it remained an option for the Taurus until 1991). Ford's 3.8 L Essex V6 was added to the line-up in 1988. Although the power output was rated at the same 140 hp (104 kW) as the 3.0 L engine, this large V6 produced 215 ft·lbf (291 N·m) of torque, a welcome addition, especially in the heavier station wagons. However, the 3.8 suffered from premature head gasket failure, which was primarily a fault with Ford's supplier of gaskets, not with the engine itself. Some also attribute this to reduced under-hood cooling.[8] Unlike the Taurus, no manual transmission was offered in the Sable.

The Sable had just received small changes over the years, mostly in terms of equipment and cosmetics. In 1991, sales dipped to just over 100,000 units, before a new generation of Sable was launched.[8]

Sable in Mexico[edit]

This generation of the Sable wasn't sold in Mexico. It was sold with Mercury badges as the Ford Taurus up until 1995, especially with the second generation.

Awards[edit]

The Sable was on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list on its release in 1986 and again in 1990 and 1991.[8]

Models[edit]

Model Year Engine Power Torque Transmission
GS 1986 2.5 L CFI HSC I4 90 hp (67 kW) 130 ft·lbf (176 N·m) 3-speed ATX automatic
GS 1986–1991 3.0 L SFI Vulcan V6 140 hp (104 kW) 160 ft·lbf (217 N·m) 4-speed AXOD automatic (1986–90)
4-speed AXOD-E automatic (1991)
LS
GS 1988–1991 3.8 L SFI Essex V6 140 hp (104 kW) 215 ft·lbf (291 N·m)
LS

Second generation (1992–1995)[edit]

Second generation
1993 Mercury Sable GS sedan
Overview
Production1991–1995
AssemblyAtlanta, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
DesignerJack Telnack
Body and chassis
Body style4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
LayoutFF layout
PlatformFord D186 platform
RelatedFord Taurus
Lincoln Continental
Ford Windstar
Powertrain
Engine3.0 L Vulcan V6
3.8 L Essex V6
Transmission4-speed AXOD-E/AX4S automatic
4-speed AX4N automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase106.0 in.
Length192.2 in. (sedan)
193.2 in. (wagon)
Width71.2 in.
Height54.4 in. (sedan)
55.5 in. (wagon)
Second-generation Mercury Sable wagon

The Sable received its first significant cosmetic update in 1992, which modernized the interior and the front and rear fascias.[8] The operation cost Ford $650 million at the time. With the older model facing slumping sales, this new model brought sales back up again, with 410,000 examples sold during 1992, a number unheard of even today.[9] While the design was basically the same, every body panel on the sedan except for the doors was changed.;[10] on the station wagon all the sheet metal to the rear of the cowl was the same as that of the 1986-1995 Ford Taurus wagon. The interior was also redesigned, and included an optional passenger-side airbag, a first in its class in 1991.[10] The Taurus, sister car of the Sable, was the best-selling car in the United States for every year of this cosmetic update.[8]

The base "GS" and luxury "LS" trim levels were carried over from the previous generation. A front cloth bench seat was standard on GS sedans and wagons, although cloth bucket seats were available on GS sedans only. Higher-end cloth bucket seats were standard on LS sedans, but a bench seat was a no cost option. A front bench was standard on LS wagons, with bucket seats optional. Leather seating surfaces were available on all LS Sables.

In 1992 for MY 1993, unpopular optional features such as the "InstaClear" heated windshield were eliminated.[10] For 3.0 L V6 engines, the drive belt system became a single-belt setup for 1993 (previously, the 3.0 L alternator had used a separate belt).[10] A passenger-side airbag became standard for 1993, and a redesigned drivers side airbag and steering wheel came in 1993 for 1994 models. Also in 1994, some 3.0 L models began receiving the new AX4N transmission.

The wagon version was available with mostly the same options as the sedan versions.[10] Wagons had a maximum of 81.1 cubic feet of cargo area with the 60/40 split rear seat folded down.[11] They featured a 2-way liftgate (raise the entire liftgate or just the window), a roof rack with crossbar and tie-downs, an optional rear-facing third seat, a lockable under-floor compartment, and an optional fold-out picnic table. With both rear split seats in the upright position, standard cargo capacity was 45.7 cubic feet.[10] Wagons that were equipped with the front bench seat and rear folding seat could seat eight people.

The last year of this updated Sable generation was 1995. For the 1995 model year, the rare LTS trim level was added. It featured leather bucket seats, Taurus LX-style alloy wheels, special cladding, and many leather wrapped interior trim parts.[10] The LTS trim had either the standard 3.0 L Vulcan V6 or the optional 3.8 L Essex V6.

Models[edit]

Model Year Transmission Engine Power Torque
GS
LS
1992–1995 4-speed AXOD-E (AX4S) automatic
4-speed AX4N automatic (some 1994-95)
3.0 L SFI Vulcan V6 140 hp (104 kW) 160 ft·lbf (217 N·m)
LTS 1995
3.8 L Essex V6 140 hp (104 kW) 215 ft·lbf (291 N·m)

Third generation (1996–1999)[edit]

Third generation
1996-1997 Mercury Sable sedan
Overview
ProductionJune 1995–1999
AssemblyAtlanta, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Body and chassis
Body style4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
LayoutFF layout
PlatformFord D186 platform
RelatedFord Taurus
Lincoln Continental
Ford Windstar
Powertrain
Engine3.0 L Vulcan V6
3.0 L Duratec V6
Transmission4-speed AX4N automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase108.5 in.
Length199.7 in. (sedan)
199.1 in. (station wagon)
Width73.0 in.
Height55.4 in. (sedan)
57.6 in. (station wagon)

The 1996 model year saw the first complete redesign for the Sable. Ford hoped the radical redesign would lead to the same success it had had with the 1986 Sable. The controversial oval theme was not well received by the press and the public, and is ultimately blamed as the reason for a substantial dip in sales.[12] For this generation, the Sable tried to move slightly upmarket, and as a result, prices rose considerably, also driving away potential buyers.[8] The 1996 Sable was the first model to share sheetmetal with the Taurus. Differences from the Taurus included different front and rear fascias, and the elimination of the rear quarter window.[13] Although the Sable used a less oval based styling, sales still fell.[12]

The 1996 model could be equipped with the brand new 200 hp (149 kW) 3.0 L DOHC Duratec 30 V6 as an option.[14] Trim lines stayed the same, with GS as the entry level model and LS as the most luxurious model. The LTS was eliminated.[14] Although all 1998 models had the option of the DOHC Duratec engine, it was only available on the LS for 1999. That same year front bucket seats became optional on the GS.[13] Mercury claimed that the 1999 Duratec had less power than the 2000 Duratec in hopes to increase sales of the 2000 Sable.[15]

1998-1999 Mercury Sable LS wagon

In an effort to reverse the declining sales of the Sable, Mercury did major cost cutting for the 1997 model.[13] They carried this further in 1997 for 1998 models, by giving it a front end refresh, and cutting the price up to $2,000 on 1999 models.[14] Mercury also continued to cut costs, eliminating some options for 1999.[13]

Models[edit]

Model Year Engine Power Torque Transmission
G
1996–1998 3.0 L SFI Vulcan V6 145 hp (108 kW) 170 ft·lbf (244 N·m) 4-speed AX4S automatic
4-speed AX4N automatic
3.0 L DOHC Duratec 30 V6 200 hp (149 kW) 200 ft·lbf (264 N·m)
LS 1996–1999
GS 1996–1999 3.0 L SFI Vulcan V6 145 hp (108 kW) 170 ft·lbf (244 N·m)
3.0 L DOHC Duratec 30 V6 200 hp (149 kW) 200 ft·lbf (264 N·m)

Fourth generation (2000–2005)[edit]

Fourth generation
2000-2003 Mercury Sable GS sedan
Overview
Production1999–2005
AssemblyAtlanta, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Body and chassis
Body style4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
LayoutFF layout
PlatformFord D186 platform
RelatedFord Taurus
Lincoln Continental
Powertrain
Engine3.0 L Vulcan V6
3.0 L Duratec V6
Transmission4-speed AX4N automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase108.5 in.
Length197.8 in. (station wagon)
199.8 in. (sedan)
Width73.0 in.
Height57.8 in. (station wagon)
55.5 in (sedan)
2000-2003 Mercury Sable LS wagon

The Sable received another redesign in 1999 for MY 2000, which minimized some of the oval design elements from the 1996 model, replacing them with more conventional styling.[16] The redesign also featured a taller roof over the rear-passenger space, to increase passenger headroom that had been sacrificed by the tapered 1996 design.[16] The taller and roomier trunk also served to make the vehicle more functional.[8] The interior was completely changed for a much more conservative design.[16] Certain elements of the interior were retained from the 1996 model, such as the integrated control console, which combined the sound system and climate controls into one panel; but the shape of that panel was changed from the controversial oval to a more conventional and conservative trapezoid. The suspension was also softened to appeal to a broader, non-sporting audience.[16] To reduce the price and increase profitability, many features such as four-wheel disc brakes were eliminated [16] on the sedan; station wagons retained four-wheel disc brakes.

2004-2005 Mercury Sable GS sedan

The 2002 Sable included extra equipment on every trim level, including a CD player and power driver's seat on the GS, and a power moonroof or leather interior on the LS.[8] Side airbags and traction control were added as options on all models.[8] For 2004, the Sable received minor cosmetic changes to the front and rear fascias, most noticeably the grille was made fully chrome. Inside were a new instrument cluster and steering wheel.[16]

Due to the Mercury brand's discontinuation in Canada, the fourth generation Sable was never available in the Canadian market. Thus it was unique to the US and Mexico.

The 2005 Mercury Montego and 2006 Milan were launched as replacements for the Sable.[16] Shortly after the Montego's introduction the Sable was discontinued, along with the Taurus wagon; the Taurus sedan continued to be produced, but primarily for the fleet market. The last Sable left the Atlanta plant on April 29, 2005.[9]

Models[edit]

Model Year Engine Power Torque Transmission
GS 2000–2005 3.0 L SFI Vulcan V6 155 hp (116 kW) 185 ft·lbf (251 N·m) 4-speed AX4N automatic
3.0 L DOHC Duratec 30 V6 200 hp (149 kW) 195 ft·lbf (350 N·m)
LS

Fifth generation (2008-2009)[edit]

Fifth generation
2008 Mercury Sable Premier
Overview
Production2007-2009
AssemblyChicago, Illinois
DesignerJ Mays
Body and chassis
Body style4-door sedan
LayoutFront engine, front-wheel drive / four-wheel drive
PlatformFord D3 platform
RelatedLincoln MKS
Volvo S60
Volvo XC90
Ford Taurus
Ford Taurus X
Ford Flex
Powertrain
Engine3.5 L Cyclone V6
Transmission6-speed 6F automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase112.9 in
Length202.1 in
Width74.5 in
Height61.5 in
Curb weight3643 lb (FWD)
3814 lb (AWD)
Chronology
PredecessorMercury Montego
SuccessorFord Taurus

At the Chicago Auto Show on February 7, 2007, Ford CEO Alan Mulally unveiled a refreshed version of the Mercury Montego sedan.[17] In response to dealer demand and in a move towards better nameplate recognition, the Montego name was dropped in favor of a revived Sable.

Entering sale on July 2007 as a 2008 model, the revived Sable was joined by a revived Ford Taurus (replacing the Ford Five Hundred) and Ford Taurus X (replacing the Ford Freestyle, effectively replacing the Taurus/Sable station wagons). Although externally smaller than the Grand Marquis, the fifth-generation Sable was the first version produced as a full-size sedan.

In the transition to the Montego to the Sable, a number of changes were made to the body and chassis. Alongside the addition of the 263 hp 3.5L V6 and 6-speed 6F automatic, the exterior underwent several revisions, including a new front bumper and grille, redesigned headlamps; the LED taillamps were retained, but given white lenses.

Models[edit]

Model Year Engine Power Torque Transmission
Base
Premier
2008-2009 3.5 L Cyclone V6 263 hp 265 ft·lbf 6-speed 6F automatic

Special editions[edit]

A few rare special editions of the Sable were made, all consisting of first generation models.

During MY 1987, Mercury introduced a special edition of the Sable called the "LS Monochrome Edition", which as an option would color the bumpers, side trim, and wheels white.[18] It was only offered during MY 1987; the production quantity is not known and it is also unknown how many still exist.[18]

During MY 1989, Mercury created a "50th Anniversary" edition of the Sable, to celebrate Mercury's 50th Anniversary. Keeping with the name, only 50 were sold, combined between GS and LS models. This Sable was actually a test bed for creating a Luxury sports version of the Sable called the LTS, similar to that of the Ford Taurus SHO. It was meant to use the SHO's chassis, interior, and suspension, but not the engine.[19] After the launch of the SHO, and all the publicity and praise it got, Ford shelved the Sable LTS to focus on the SHO, and because they were afraid it would take sales away from the SHO. The Sable LTS remained in a "development hell" until mid-1994 when it was introduced as a high end version of the Sable, but by then, it was just a highly optioned LS. An unknown number of these Sables still exist, but a pristine condition GS in this trim was sold on eBay in 2007.[19]

A special one-of-a-kind Sable convertible was created in 1987 for the 1988 Detroit SAE auto show. It was built from a sedan chassis and featured a completely custom two-door body with a custom folding top. However, it was shelved; the only one sat in a warehouse for years until it was given a VIN, titled, and driven. It was sold on eBay in 2006.[20]

In an article in Automotive News (circa 1990) an all aluminum "body in white" was made for a Sable. In an accompanying photo it is shown being held up by two middle aged women, leading to the belief it would weigh less than 600 lbs. At the time Audi had just released the A8, so it might have been an engineering exercise for constructing all aluminum frames, as Jaguar has now. Whatever became of the "Aluminum Sable Unibody", or if there was more than one, is unknown.

Popular culture[edit]

In the movie Coneheads, the main character, Beldar, drives a 1992 Sable GS. The car is equipped with a removable sunroof to accommodate his "cone." At the end of the movie, the car is taken to planet Remulak, and the owner's guide given as a gift to the Conehead Highmaster. The car is described as "a personal conveyance named after its inventor, an assassinated ruler, a character from Greco-Roman myth and a small furry mammal." (Henry Ford, Abraham Lincoln, Mercury, and Sable, respectively).

References[edit]

  • "Taurus Car Club of America". Retrieved 2006-05-16.
  • Beadle, Tony (August 1996). The American Automobile. Smithmark Publishers. ISBN 0-8317-6267-5.
  • Gunnell, John (July 2002). Standard Catalog of Ford 1903-2003 (3rd ed.). Krause Publications. ISBN 0-87349-452-0.
  • http://www.leftlanenews.com/ford-taurus-x-mercury-sable-to-cease-production-next-year.html "Ford Taurus X, Mercury Sable to cease production next year (2009)".

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Hoffman, Bryce G (May 17, 2009). "Sable reaches end of the line". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
  2. ^ "Production Figures". Taurus/Sable Encyclopedia. Taurus Car Club of America. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Taub, Eric (November 1991). Taurus: The Making of the Car That Saved Ford. E. P. Dutton. ISBN 0-525-93372-7.
  4. ^ "Cool Cats: The 1983 Mercury Cougar". coolcats.new. 16 February 2005. Archived from the original on 27 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
  5. ^ Pontiac Grand Prix at Consumer Guide Archived 2007-10-15 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Mitsubishi Eclipse at Consumer Guide Archived 2007-03-09 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Subaru SVX at Consumer Guide Archived 2007-10-15 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j DiPetro, John (2003-04-18). "Inside Line: Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable". Edmunds. Archived from the original on 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2006-05-29.
  9. ^ a b Mayne, Eric (2005-04-19). "End of Ford Taurus closes era". Detroit News. Archived from the original on 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2006-05-16.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g "Taurus/Sable spotters guide (Generation 2)". taurusclub.com/encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
  11. ^ "1990-1995 Ford Taurus Review". Consumer Guide. Archived from the original on 2007-03-28. Retrieved 2007-02-13.
  12. ^ a b Walton, Mary (May 1997). Car: A Drama of The American Workplace. W. W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-04080-1.
  13. ^ a b c d "Taurus/Sable spotters guide (Generation 3 1996-1999)". taurusclub.com/encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
  14. ^ a b c "1996-1999 Mercury Sable at Consumer Guide". consumerguide.howstuffworks.com. Archived from the original on 2007-08-23. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  15. ^ "TCCA encyclopedia: Myths". Taurus/Sable Encyclopedia. Taurus Car Club of America. 2007-01-13. Retrieved 2007-02-13.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g "2000-2005 Mercury Sable". Consumer Guide. Archived from the original on 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2007-02-13.
  17. ^ "Mercury Sable Returns to Showrooms With More Power, Style and Sophistication". Media. Ford.com. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-02-07.
  18. ^ a b "Generation 1 Spotter's Guide". Taurus/Sable Encyclopedia. Taurus Car Club of America. Retrieved 2007-02-13.
  19. ^ a b "1989 50th Anniversary Mercury Sable". encyclopedia.taurusclub.com. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
  20. ^ "1988 Sable Convertible concept". www.taurusclub.com/encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-03-18.

External links[edit]