Mercury Automobiles

Mercury automobiles was a brand of vehicles as a subsidy of the Ford Motor Company. It was established by the Edsel Ford in 1938. The Mercury brand was a luxury vehicle placed between the high end Ford and the base Lincoln models. In 1945, Mercury became half of the Lincoln division until it was phased out in 2011. The last Mercury produced was a Grand Marquis which left the assembly line on January 4, 2011. From 1958 to 1960, Edsel brand models were part of the Lincoln-Mercury group.

The first and only model was the Mercury Eight priced at $916.00 and over 65,800 were sold the first year. They were built with no similarities to the Ford or Lincoln models. However, future Mercury models began to share the same features and looks as the other two brands. In 1952 the Mercury Eight was replaced by the Mercury Custom and Monterey.

In 1955, the Mercury Montclair was added to the lineup sharing the body style with the base Lincoln. The Custom was replaced by the Medalist in 1956 and became to low end Mercury model. The Medalist was discontinued in 1957, the Turnpike Cruiser was added and was the pace car for that year’s Indianapolis 500. Mercury also added three station wagons to their lineup, the Commuter, Voyager, and the Colony Park that featured wood-grain trim.

In 1958 Mercury became the first manufacturer to advertise a 400 hp Super Marauder V-8 engine in their production models. It was available as an option on all Mercury models. In 1959 the Turnpike Cruiser was discontinued and the Park Lane was added.

In the early 1960s, Mercury began to produce a smaller vehicle, the comet which was similar to the Ford Falcon and the first Mercury with an in-line six instead of a V-8 engine. In 1961, the Montclair and Park Lane was discontinued leaving only the Monterey model as their high end vehicle. To fill in the gap between the Monterey and the Comet, Mercury added the Meteor similar to the Ford Fairlane.

In 1963, Mercury added an S to the three models as performance packages and marked the return of the Turnpike Cruiser. Plus, the fastback style “Marauder” was an option on all hardtop models. The Montclair and Park Lane returned in 1964.

The Comet was redesigned in 1966 and the Meteor was discontinued. The Marquis replaced the Montclair and Park Lane in 1967 which was similar to the Ford LTD. The Marquis survived until 2011. Also in 1967, the Cougar was introduced as a twin of the Ford Mustang.

The Marauder was discontinued and in 1971 the Capri was added and the Comet was based on the Ford Maverick. During the 1970s Mercury began to focus back to being a luxury vehicle producer instead of performance based models. The Cougar was redesigned to be similar to the Ford Thunderbird, and the Monarch was added as a clone to the Ford Granada. The Bobcat was added to the lineup as a twin to the Ford Pinto. The Montego was dropped and the Cougar sales tripled in the late 1970s earning 40 percent of  Mercury’s total sales. The Zephyr Replaced the Comet as a twin to the Ford Fairmont.

During the 1980s, nearly all of the Mercury lineup was either redesigned or replaced, only the Mercury Grand Marquis and Colony Park were unchanged. Front-wheel-drive was introduced into the compact vehicles and the Topaz replaced the Zephyr which featured the first Mercury with a driver’s-side airbag. A Mekur (German for Mercury) lineup was introduced with two models, the XR4Ti and the Scorpio. The Mekur models were discontinued after 1989.

In the 1990s for the first time since the 1970s the Grand Marquis was redesigned. Mercury sales also rose to its highest level since the late 1970s. Even with higher sales, Mercury’s compact models were redesigned and the lineup shrank, the full-sized station wagons were replaced by mini-vans and SUVs were added to the lineup. The Grand Marquis was the top-selling Mercury by the end of the 1990s.

During the 2000s, the Montego was reintroduced as a twin the Ford Five Hundred and the Grand Marquis remained strong in sales. The Mercury Mariner was produced as a clone to the Ford Escape and the Milan as a twin to the Ford Fusion. The Mariner was the first gasoline-electric hybrid SUV in 2006. Sales began to fall in 2008 except for the Grand Marquis.

On June 2, 2010, Ford announced they would be discontinuing the Mercury brand and adding more Lincoln models to replace them. Mercury only sold 93,195 vehicles in 2010, which was only one percent of the total vehicles sold in North America. The Mercury brand was discontinued in 2011 and was no longer sold at dealerships.

Image Caption: 1959 Mercury Park Lane. Credit: 55allegro/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)