Thursday, July 29, 2010

Reflections on the Ford Mercury

Hi folks,

I had an extended conversation with a reporter today about the Mercury brand, due to end this fall, and wanted to share some of my thoughts with you.

At first, I thought I might actually have little to say of substance, but after going through the topic, perhaps there is more than I initially considered.
Three Mercury products loom large in my life. The first is one of those iconic images of a car that burn into your memory early in one's life. It was my cousin Richard's 1954 maroon Mercury, first encountedered when I was about 8-10 years old, that stuck with me for a long time. In my own mind and at the time, I thought it was a very pretty car, particularly its taillights and dimensions. The next Mercury that became a part of my life was a 1974 Mercury Capri, certainly one of the worst if not the worst car that I have ever owned. I bought it new in the fall of 1973, my first new car. It had a 2800cc v-6 and a sunroof, but in the end became a source of major problems due to a clutch cable that kept on kinking on me and repeatedly was replaced. This car was never exactly right. Fianlly, my son-in-law Tony now has a 1967 Cougar that he is working on, and boy it needs plenty of work. I hope to help him get it right when I am in San Diego between January and May of 2011.

What were the great Mercury's from the past?

1) The 1940 Convertible -- an elegant upgrade over the Ford
2) The 1949, the first new post-war model and featured in Rebel without a Cause. Also the starting point of George Barris' best-known custom of the 1950s, after chopping and channeling.
3) The 1954 Sun Valley -- I thought about buying one 20 years ago, but probably my wife would have vetoed the deal.
4) 1957 Turnpike Cruiser -- loaded with gadgets
5) The 1967 Cougar, made famous by the publicity campaign "At the sign of the cat." The high point of the Mercury brand, without doubt.

1 comment:

  1. It's funny John, it seems as though every time I buy a car from a certain marque it goes out of business. I owned the last true 2 door sports car from Pontiac (GTO) and 6 months later General Motors announces they are no longer continuing the Pontiac line. Then, I purchase the first 2 door sports car Mercury ever produced and 6 months later Ford announces Mercury will no longer be making cars.

    Either way, I think the proliferation of business practices positioned towards cost-cutting have caused several of these marques to be discontinued. Why get rid of Pontiac? Because Buick is far more profitable per unit and caters to a wealthier market. Excitement always loses to profit in the eyes of stakeholders. Brand recognition and customer loyalty are not what they once were, and stockholders carry more “hole cards” than enthusiasts.