Thursday, July 29, 2010
Reflections on the Ford Mercury
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.