The Marauder XM-100 was THE LAST. What does Ford have in store for Mercury in the future? What's the big news over there? There is none, only a new crop of pimped up Fords or watered down Lincolns, depending on your view.
Montego, is a rebadged 500, Milan is a rebadged Fusion, Mariner is a rebadged Escape, Sable was a rebadged Taurus, Grand Marquis is a rebadged Crown Victoria, Mountaineer is a rebadged Explorer, Mercury is a Ford with that stupid waterfall grill.
But this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who is familiar with the begining of Mercury. In 1939 Ford brought out the first Mercury, a rebadged Ford. If you look at the two side by side, you have to look carefully for the differences. In the 50's Mercury took of with it's own identity, starting with the 49 Mercury, which most people wouldn't recognize if they saw stock. The leader of the Led Sled movement, at one point the coolest car to own was a Mercury. Everyone wanted to be James Dean. Mercury had it's own racing team and development program even into the early to mid 70's. The 60's (early) were the golden years for the brand. With the Marauder and Turnpike Cruiser, styling that was as far from Ford as you could get and still use shared platforms.
Going back from today, let's examine any models that Mercury had that weren't rebadged Ford, shall we? If we set the time machine to 1999 we find two models available, the Cougar and the Capri, both based on overseas Ford models. The Cougar from 99-03 was a two door coupe based on the Euopean Mondeo or Contour/Mystique 4 door sedan. A nice package, sporty and economical, but not marketed much. The tuner crowd has picked up on this sporty coupe and you see them modified at many car shows today. But was it unique? In Europe they sold it as a Ford. Now the Capri, was supposed to be a way to tag onto the success of the Miata. Based on Mazda 323 mechanicals it was an Australian Ford Capri/Laser imported for a few years, but it's front wheel drive chassis failed to catch the same spirit that the Miata had tapped into and it was cancled.
In the late 80's early 90's there was the Tracer, a rebadged 323 again, this time replacing the Lynx Escort clone. Not a unique car, not really a Mercury. What about Merkur you might ask, again imported Fords from Europe and not really Mercury. What about the Capri from the 80's ? No a rebadged Mustang, don't know who thought they needed that. But wait that mistake could be repeated, just think of the recent Mercury Messenger concept, a ugly Mustang based sporty coupe that many want to revive the Cougar name. The 70's are a vast Mercury wasteland, I can't thik of one unique model during the decade, and what they did to the Cougar was just a sin. Who in their right mind would make a 4 door Cougar, never mind the Mercury Cougar Vilager wagon. Someone should have been shot for that one. Don't get me wrong, they were decent cars, but why the Cougar name? The Cougar for many years became nothing more than a T-Bird and LTD II clone, loosing the legacy of the original.
I guess the rational for keeping Mercury around has been twofold, first giving Lincoln dealers lower priced vehicles to increase traffic, and second to squeeze a few more bucks out of the rubes by selling them a Bobcat or Zephyr for a premium over the Pinto and Fairmont.
Mercury has run it's course, put it out to pasture, if you want to give Lincoln dealers traffic, bring out some decent models. After all, you don't see Lexus/Toyota dealers. And if you think I'm being harsh, just think I'm a Ford fanatic, what do the tough critics think?
Here are some links for Mercury fans;