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Mercury fading: A look back at some of the brand's milestone cars

Wed, 02 Jun 2010

Rarely do we at AutoWeek like to see a nameplate get deep-sixed. When one does, we enthusiasts get a little nostalgic. Whether it's remembering the one our grandma had or the piece of junk we bought after high school, no brand lives for more than 70 years without a few high points.

With news that Mercury may shut its doors, we thought it would be a good time to sift through the brand's history and find some of our favorite cars from the historic nameplate.

1949 Mercury

The '49 may be the most classic Mercury of all. With the rise of garage shows and stars such as Jesse James who own and drive a lead sled, the '49 has made a bit of a comeback in recent years. You can still find them--granted they need a ton of TLC--on Ebay Motors if you look hard enough.

1967 Mercury Cougar

The Mercury Cougar was a Ford Mustang twin when it debuted. Later, it was based off the Ford Thunderbird platform and finally used the Contour platform before its demise in 2002. Early ads for the car featured models with cougars on leashes. Radio spots told people to "look for the sign of the cat" to find their dealerships.

1971 Mercury Cyclone

The Cyclone was an option package for the Mercury Comet. It housed a 351-cubic-inch V8 making 240 hp, good for the time. The '71 Cyclone cost less than four-grand new, and with rear-drive power, it could manage a burnout or two.

1982 Mercury Capri

Three generations, three distinct cars. Many Mercury faithful speak fondly of the first generation, imported from Europe from 1970 through 1977.

The second generation, the one shown here, arrived in 1979 as a rebadged version of the new Mustang in the '80s. There were some special editions, such as the Black Magic and the Charcoal Turbo RS. But this Capri's run ended in 1986.

The third-gen Capri was built by Ford in Australia and was meant to rival the Mazda Miata. It switched to front-wheel drive and a convertible body style. But its stay was short, from 1991 to 1994.

1994 Mercury Grand Marquis

An upscale Ford Crown Victoria, the Grand Marquis was one of Mercury's best-selling cars from when it became a separate line in 1983 and on through the early '90s. It retained the chrome waterfall grille, even as the Crown Vic began to take styling cues from the Ford Taurus. The second-generation Grand Marquis traded in the Windsor V8 for a 4.6-liter SOHC Modular V8 engine.

2003 Mercury Marauder

The Marauder debuted in 1963 as a '63.5 model but only stayed around until 1965. It briefly returned in 1970, but the one we're focused on was the third try, for the 2003-04 model years. Mean as it ever was, the Marauder used a DOHC 4.6-liter V8 to get the job done with the rear wheels. The 3.55 rear axle was borrowed from the Police Interceptor, as was the limited-slip differential.

2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid

The Milan hybrid may be the last car we ever see from Mercury. The hybrid drivetrain delivers 41 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine makes 191 hp with the addition of the electric motor. Like many hybrids, it uses a CVT to minimize fuel burn.

By Jake Lingeman