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Mercury falling - Reflections on Mercury and its cars

Consumer Reports News: June 03, 2010 04:32 PM

As the Queen song goes, another one bites the dust. (Read: " Another brand falls: Ford to close Mercury.") With the demise of this brand, we got to talking about our experiences of a favorite Mercury. Were there any memorable drives in vehicles that used to be marketed as "The Sign of the Cat"?

Stretching our memory banks came up with a few reflections and stories:

Jeff Bartlett: Mercury always struck me as a curious idea, with most models being just modestly enhanced Fords. The 1999 Cougar was memorable for being surprisingly fun to drive, with sportier handling than was common at its price point. Being a fan of the Chevrolet Impala SS, I was excited by the short-lived Marauder, but it didn't deliver the entertainment it promised. In the end, the only Mercury that would have me scanning the used-car listings is the Milan. A better-dressed Ford Fusion for just a little bit more money. As the brand winds down, there will be great new and used-car deals rendering it an appealing buy.

David Champion: The Marauder was the fastest thing take from the track  to our Yonkers headquarters -- especially during rush hour because everyone thought it was a police car! Also, the Cougar that came out in 1999 was a nice car to drive, but the 2.5-liter V6 was a bit anemic. On another note, I do prefer the styling of the Milan to Fusion.

Jake Fisher: I'd like to think that I'm too young for this game, but I do remember the last Mercury Capri—a half-hearted, front-drive roadster to compete with the Mazda Miata.

Gordon Hard: I owned a used 1973 Mercury Capri coupe around about 1980. It was kinda sexy looking, I thought, and since it was made in Germany I thought it would be well made. It wasn't. The rear quarter windows would snap their flimsy hinge and blow out with regularity, hanging by their chromium shackle until just before you could stop to save it from completely letting go. The manual shifter seemed to live in a different time zone. The horn was on the end of the blinker lever. Our worst day started on a snowy hillside near Hope, NJ, when a downshift led to a tail slip and a glancing slide down one of those galvanized guardrails, resulting in unsuspected internal bleeding--a coolant hemorrhage that became evident outside the town of White, where we stopped dead. Unlike the drive, the bus ride back to NYC was a blast.

John Ibbotson: Nothing like pulling up behind a car in a Marauder at about 70 mph and watching them pull over for you.

Mike Quincy: As a Mustang fan (and owner of a '65 Fastback), I always liked the styling of the original Cougar—especially with the hideaway headlights and sequential turn signals. I also enjoyed driving the Marauder for the same reasons listed above, but it really didn't deliver the power and presence that its mean body promised. But driving it was as close as I've even come to thinking I had a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Eric Evarts: None of the Mercurys I've driven have ever been memorable. But I've got to agree with Mike. A seminal experience was helping to restore a friend's 1968 Cougar in high school, endlessly sanding body panels. It turned out beautiful in candy-apple red, with a black vinyl top—right before it was stolen and found stripped for parts. Maybe not unlike the brand itself.

Gabe Shenhar: Frankly, I never understood the point of Mercury, and I'm surprised it lasted that long. But in terms of a car, I'd vote for the last Cougar, circa 1999, which was a coupe version of the Mondeo with great Euro-style handling, steering, and body control. And, it never had a Ford equivalent.

Jim Travers: I've only owned one Mercury, but it was big enough to count for several. It was a well-used 1974 Colony Park wagon with a faux forest's worth of phony woodgrain on the sides. Come to think of it, the wagon was about as nimble as a forest, too. But it was just the thing for piling in a bunch of Jersey boys and girls to go see Pink Floyd.

Also read:
Another brand falls: Ford to close Mercury.
If Ford closes Mercury, what does it mean to you?

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