Today Ford announced it was shutting down the Mercury brand, the latest purge by the automaker, having already sold Jaguar and Land Rover to a company in India and Volvo to the Chinese.
I always had a soft spot in my heart for Mercury because I drove two of them way back when I was in high school and college. My parents hand-me-down Mercury Monarch was the last one I drove before I sold it for junk the summer after graduating from college.
Actually, neither Mercury I owned was junk..they were good cars. My first was a ’74 Montego MX Brougham with about 70 thousand miles on it when a 17 year old Dennis House got behind the wheel. It looked just like this, only it was a slightly lighter shade of blue. I loved that car.
It was roomy and comfortable, but the mileage was awful. It had blue vinyl seats and a padded vinyl roof, and a 8 track player.
My next Mercury was a smaller sedan, a Monarch. The color was hardly manly….antique cream with matching interior. My mother fell in love with it when she picked it up off the lot brand new. My parents let me take it to the senior prom under strict orders I was not to use the car phone, which was a rare option in those days.
A few years later the Monarch was handed down to me, with nary a scratch on its pretty feminine exterior. I drove it for a year or so, and then I was broadsided a few months before I graduated college. It was driveable….ugly, but driveable. Once graduation came, I sold it for junk. That was my last Mercury.
Here I am taking Mom’s Monarch to the prom, leaving a dejected Montego home with a babysitter.
Mercurys were often seen in television shows and movies. The ultra cool Steve McGarrett drove Mercurys in “Hawaii Five-O.” Despite what young people may think, Mercurys weren’t always just Ford clones aimed at senior citizens.
Betty Draper drives this Mercury Colony Park in “Mad Men.”
Mercury made some cool cars, from the Cougar to the Marauder to the Comet. It is kind of sad that the brand is now fading into the history books after 72 years, joining Plymouth, Oldsmobile, Packard and other storied names in the trash bin. Could Ford have turned the brand around like General Motors has done to Buick, which is now the fastest growing brand in America? We’ll never know, but my guess is…yes.
I do know that years from now at an antique auto show no one is going to be gushing over a bland and listless Toyota Camry, but they will marvel over a car called Mercury.