Cars

Memories of Mercury

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.

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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.

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5 replies »

  1. My family had a 1956 Mercury Monterey station wagon–orange, with the fake paneling! I don’t remember it very well! Later, we had a ’63 Comet wagon, followed by a ’66 Comet wagon, no paneling on either! I had two Mercs: an ’84 Topaz GS (my first brand new car) and a ’99 Cougar. I had the Cougar for 9 years. I loved that car. It is sad to see Mercury go!

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  2. My parents had a ’64 Mercury Monterrey (I think it was called). It had a back window that slanted toward the interior that would, when the button was pressed, slide down to open. Pretty cutting edge back then.
    We also had a ’74 Mercury Montego that was a “maize” color… ah..the memories!

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  3. My brother found me a 1957 Merc Turnpike Cruiser for my senior year of high school in 1965. My brother sold it after I left for the service. My next Merc was a 1979 Marquis in 1980. I had it for about 14 years. Other Mercs were 1984, 1989 and 1992, all Grand Marquis. Loved them all. They are quick, quiet and comfortable. I was going to get a Merc Milan in a couple years. Heck, I’ll just buy one used.
    I was hoping for a retro ’67 Cougar. I believe Ford is making a hugh mistake. A hugh mistake. Ford has ignored Merc. The current Grand Marqis body has been around since ’98. They could have shorten it a little. Give it a makeover and put the 3.7 in it.

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