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Despite being defunct, Mercury cars have put a finger on people’s hearts forever. This American automotive brand, a division of Ford Motor Company, was famed for producing entry-level luxury vehicles and larger SUVs. The brand was discontinued in 2011, following poor sales and Ford’s refocusing on its other pet projects. Nonetheless, Mercury is still widely recognized as in the home market, so in the Canadian, Middle East and Central American ones.
Name & Logo
The company’s name ‘Mercury’ originates for the messenger of the gods in the Roman mythology. This name was applied to all cars produced by the maker, save for the two models which were imported to Europe in 1985. The latter were codenamed as Merkur, deriving from the German word for Mercury. Yet, in a few years a new name was dropped because of poor sales.
The first logo used by Mercury was an image of the namesake Roman god. However, in the 1950s it was redesigned to M letter with horizontal bars, bulging outward from the bottom in each direction. During the next decade the company had used a cross surrounded by a wreath, and then adopted a renowned Cougar emblem. In the 1980s many car manufacturers employed cat-related names in their car families (i.e. Bobcat, Lynx). Mercury was no exception.
Mercury’s history of evolution is rich in curious, sometimes striking events. Here are only the most significant ones:
1938 – Edsel Ford established a new division of Ford Motor Company;
1939 – the introduction of Mercury Eight with a flathead V8 engine and 95 horsepower;
1950 – the launch of Custom and Monterey cars which shared a body with Lincoln;
1955-1957 – the production of a flagship Montclair unit, a line of station wagons, including the Voyager, the Colony Park and the Commuter, and a top-tier Turnpike Cruiser;
the 1960s – the appearance of the Comet, powered by 90-hp inline-six engine; the expansion of the lineup with Meteor and a series of high-performance ‘S’ solutions (S-22, S-33, S-55) with efficient powertrains, bucket seats & full-length consoles;
1967 – the release of the two most successful Mercury’s findings: the Cougar (a luxury coupe) and the Marquis. The latter was to substitute the Park Lane and the Montclair models;
1978 – the brand’s annual sales reached a record peak of 580.000 units; four out of ten cars sold under Mercury’s logo were Cougars;
The 1980s – Mercury entered the market with Topaz and Sable lines. The latter was designed as a sedan with some outstanding performance: it has become the most aerodynamic vehicle at the time;
1991 – the relaunch of the Capri (a four-seat convertible), based on a number of Mazda 323 components;
1995 – the introduction of the Mystique and the redesign of the Sable;
1997 – the company enters SUV segment with Mountaineer mid-size crossover. It was differentiated by a silver waterfall grille, the integration of V8 engine and an all-wheel drive;
1999- the reintroduction of Cougar. It was redesigned into a front-wheel sports coupe, based on the Mystique model;
2004- the Monterey replaced the Villager to compete with Chrysler Town and Country minivan;
2005 – the introduction of the Montego to substitute the Sable, the Mariner – as a clone of Ford Escape, the Milan – as a clone of Ford Fusion;
2011 – Ford permanently discontinued the brand.
The Last of the Mohicans
As of 2011, Mercury’s lineup consisted of four models:
- Milan – a mid-sized sedan, based on Ford CD3 platform, a twin of Ford Fusion;
- Mariner – a compact crossover, a twin of Ford Escape with a hybrid powertrain;
- Grand Marquis – a full-size luxury sedan (rear-wheel), a flagship model competing with Ford Crown Victoria;
- Mountaineer – a mid-size luxury SUV, sharing common features with Ford Explorer.