Mercury Muscle Cars through the years
Ford’s middle child has an interesting history with the world of hot rods.
When Mercury was created in 1938 by Edsel Ford, it was ostensibly to fill the big price gap between Ford and the luxury brand Lincoln. In keeping with the practice of Chrysler (which included four brands) and General Motors (which had seven nameplates), Ford’s new high-end Mercury division would serve upward mobile buyers with higher trim levels, more d interior space and more powerful performance.
In the years to come, Ford’s Mercury division would earn a solid reputation for performance that would follow the brand almost until its demise in 2011.
1940-1951 Mercury “Lead sledge”
What really gave Mercury his first big push into the performance scene was a radical new pontoon body design for 1949, which he shared largely unchanged with Ford and Lincoln. The drastic, streamlined teardrop shape was a major change in the post-war era from cars that had been produced before and during the war, and sales of Mercury cars grew six-fold. Mechanically the stage was set for performance with a higher-output version of Ford’s flat-head V8, optional overdrive, independent front suspension, ladder frame, and a semi-elliptical leaf spring rear axle. Hot rodders would adopt the Mercury 1949-1951 as the definitive hot rod type, conferring the name “lead sled” (also spelled as “led sled”).
While the fresh look and extra performance of the 1949-1951 Mercury Eight was a godsend for the hot rodders of the day (to learn more about Matthew Fox’s 1950 Mercury pictured above, click here), the competition from Mid-priced nameplates intensified, and the 1950s saw the rise of the small-block OHV V-8 in the 1955-1957 Chevrolet “tri-five”, not to mention the debut of the Oldsmobile. Rocket 88 OHV and a trio of Hemi engine brands from Chrysler (Chrysler, Dodge and DeSoto). Performance was skyrocketing and to stay competitive, Mercury would again help boil performance in the 1960s with muscle car movement.
1963 Mercury Maraudeur
While the muscle car movement is generally associated with Pontiac’s release of the mid-size GTO in 1964, tall performers were already in vogue by the early 1960s with cars like the Chevy Impala SS and the Ford Galaxie. 500. In this environment, Mercury produces what is arguably one of the most beautiful full-size hard roofs of all time in the world. 1963 Mercury Maraudeur. Equipped with 390ci big block power, the Marauder had the strength, looks and name that evoked the mighty Martin B-26 Marauder bomber of World War II. In the highly competitive sales environment of the 1960s, each year brought new changes in engineering and styling, and the one-year lines of the 1963 Mercury Marauder made many believers, including us.
1964 Mercury Marauder
If the 1963 Mercury Marauder is a stylish missile, then the 1964 Marauder takes that philosophy to the next level, as seen above in Tom Johnson’s full-size Merc. The folded-pleat grille divides the air, discharging it over mile-long, sharp-edged stainless steel moldings, along the smooth-sided flanks and around a steeply angled C-pillar. You can imagine what a NASCAR driver might feel as he battles the wind pushing the car against the curb at 150 mph on the high shores of Daytona or Darlington. The addition of a teardrop-shaped Thunderbolt hood is a reference to Ford’s NHRA Super Stock effort and the 385 Ford 460 series below pays homage to Ford’s subsequent success in stock car racing and racing. dragsters, but the nice mash-up shows you how flexible and flexible the lines of the full-size 1964 Mercury Marauder really are!
1965 Mercury Comet 202 Hi-Po 289ci V-8
On the opposite end of the size spectrum at Mercury was the Comet, a compact car based on the Ford Falcon platform. While the Mercury Comet debuted in 1960, it was the 1964 restyling that put it on the map with hot rodders. Little changed in 1965 before the brand moved to the mid-size Fairlane platform in 1966. This 1964 Mercury Comet 202 is owned by Don Watson, who ordered it with a high performance 289ci small block, an option that was not technically available at the factory! Fortunately, the dealership had an ally within the factory, and it was built to order. The Comet lineup in 1965 consisted of the top-of-the-line 202, 404, Caliente and Cyclone, making it a rare performer.
1969 Mercury Cyclone Cobra Jet
The Mercury Cyclone trim level first appeared in 1964 as a top-of-the-line Comet model and was built on the compact Ford Falcon platform. In 1966, the Comet went from a compact to a midsize and was built on Ford’s mid-size Fairlane platform. At that size, it became competitive with a raft of GM and Chrysler middlemen in stock car racing and drag racing. On the streets, the 1969 Mercury Cyclone Cobra Jet was envisioned as a low-cost competitor to the Road Runner, its 335bhp Cobra Jet FE 428ci, Drag Pack package, and no-frills trim level putting it squarely in the line of target of young enthusiasts of time. It was a relatively rare machine despite its price, which makes it very popular today. Check out the fine example of Larry Chernow.
1969 Mercury Marauder X-100
As the decade of the 1960s drew to a close, taller artists in Detroit began to move away from lighter intermediates and newer ponycars. It didn’t hold them back, it only changed the intended buyer into an older, more sophisticated (and hopefully richer!) Customer. After a three-year hiatus, the Marauder nameplate was back for 1969 and 1970, and shared its platform and roofline with the full-size Ford XL and Galaxie 500 SportsRoof. The Marauder X-100 was the ultimate in the personal luxury performance segment, sharing the same territory as the Chrysler Hurst 300 and the Chevrolet Impala SS; big and responsible was the rule with Mercury’s newest interpreter of luxury, thanks to a big-block 360bhp 429ci V8 and miles of shiny steel and chrome.
1970 Mercury Cougar Eliminator
The Cougar was Mercury’s answer to the Ford Mustang, but didn’t see production until 1967, three years after the Mustang hit showrooms. No one had a clue how successful the Mustang was, and when it became clear that Mercury needed a ponycar in their showrooms, a lot of water had leaked under the bridge. As a result, the Cougar had a look of its own; Slightly taller, longer, and more formal with its upright greenhouse and concealed headlights, it was a real step up from the Mustang with a look and feel of its own, but with virtually identical powertrain options. In 1969, the Cougar was available in the Eliminator trim level, up to the big block 428ci Super Cobra Jet. Jay Williams’ black-on-black 1970 Cougar Eliminator is so rare that most historians have considered it a fake, until documentation proves otherwise!
1970 Mercury Cyclone 429ci Super Cobra Jet
The first time you lay eyes on a 1970-1972 Mercury Cyclone, you hardly think it’s real because of its long muzzle. This is not a car for the faint of heart! The Cyclone had earned its reputation on the NASCAR tracks, mostly in the hands of David Pearson while driving the Wood Brothers number 21, sponsored by Purolator. In the hands of a drag racer like Vic Guilmino, who owns this 1970 Mercury Cyclone. 429ci Super Cobra Jet, the great Cyclone looks menacing with its big ‘n’ littles on Cragar SS mags. Guilmino is the original owner and after several years of drag racing in Stock Eliminator he put him back on the road after the NHRA told him he had to cut the car for a roll cage in order to continue. to run.
1983 Mercury Capri
When the muscle car craze waned in the early 1970s, Mercury was one of its victims; what had been muscular was now fat and flabby, if he survived. Mercury fans would have to wait until Ford designed the scaled-down Fox-body platform in 1979 before any semblance of performance returned to the marque. On this platform, Mercury would receive a source of new products, including the Zephyr, Marquis, Cougar, and Capri. Of these, the 1979-1986 Capri was the best performing of the group and could be fitted with the same powertrain accessories as the more popular Ford Mustang GT. The Capri, however, continued Mercury’s practice of visual differentiation with an egg-crate-style vertical grille (the Mustang’s was angled rearward) and a bubble-shaped rear window (the Mustang’s tailgate was flat). See what John Puckett did with his 1983 slut Capri at HOT ROD’s Drag Week.
2003 Mercure Maraudeur
When the last Mercury rolled off the assembly line on January 4, 2011, it would be a Grand Marquis, built on the same Panther platform as the Ford Crown Victoria. The body-on-chassis Panther platform had been around since 1978 and had served as the basis not only for family transportation, but also for rental fleets, taxi services and law enforcement around the world. The Panther, along with the Mercury Grand Marquis, had proven to be almost indestructible in these roles, so product planners wondered if this could be a cool hot rod too? For two model years – 2003 and 2004 – the Panther platform served as the basis for Mercury’s last high-performance hurray: a recall for the Mercury Marauder. Loaded with all police car accessories and a 305hp 4.6-liter DOHC Mod V-8, the latest Marauders were the answer to the 1994-1996 Chevrolet Impala SS. Find out how Sherman Vining turned his 2003 Mercury Marauder into a 10-second terror.
To concern! Restored 1970 Mercury Cougar eliminator
In this 2019 edition of the Muscle Monday video series, host Kendra Sommer introduces us to Barry Jadin, who takes us through the build and details of her fully restored 1970 Mercury Cougar Eliminator. “If you’re going to restore a car, it has to be restored as it was, as it came out of the factory,” Jadin says.