1999 Mercury Cougar

    Few Mercury products were more than rebadged Ford vehicles. The 1998-2002 Cougar was one Mercury that didn't share its sheetmetal with a Ford, but it wasn't the brand-reviving success the company had planned (Ford).

    by: Michael Zak, AOL Autos

    After more than 70 years, Ford Motor Company will wind down its Mercury product line, according to a report from Bloomberg. The brand, launched in 1939, has struggled since the beginning of the millennium, with sales plummeting some 75%. Rumors of its closure have been circling for years. Ford sold just 92,299 Mercury-badged vehicles in 2009, though sales are up a bit this year.

    According to the report, executives at Ford are preparing a proposal to kill the brand, to be reviewed this summer. The two- to four-year wind down would include the eventual transition of all Lincoln products -- currently sold alongside Mercury vehicles in distinct dealerships -- to Ford showrooms.

    "You have to worry about Lincoln dealers if Mercury goes away," said John McElroy, host of the Autoline Detroit television program. "Dealers need that volume to sell, but they also need cars to service as well."

    Lincoln products, which share similar platforms, generate higher profits for the company. Many Mercury products have MSRPs close to -- or sometimes exactly the same as -- Ford equivalents. In the first quarter of this year, the brand accounted for only 1.9% of Ford’s total profits.

    While lagging sales are certainly to blame, the erosion of Mercury’s identity played a large role as well. With only four vehicles in Mercury showrooms -- all re-badged Ford models with few differentiating features -- Americans seem to have forgotten about it. The shut down of the Mercury brand gives notice that Ford's attempt to create a separate and unique experience for Lincoln was in vain.

    “Really this is as much about Lincoln," said John Wolkonowicz, an auto analyst with IHS Global Insight. "They needed Mercury for Lincoln dealerships. Lincoln was never self sufficient and they wanted it separated from Ford. They are closing Mercury and essentially throwing in the towel for Lincoln at this point. It won't stand on its own."

    Wolkonowicz said that while a shut down of Mercury was expected for years, upcoming product changes within Ford mean that the brand's best-selling car for April, the Grand Marquis, will leave the market after the 2011 model year.

    "The number one Mercury, the Grand Marquis, is going away,” said Wolkonowicz."Once that's gone Mercury isn't worth having anymore. Without it there isn't a business case for the brand. Mercury as a whole hasn't been memorable in a long time."

    Ford executives throughout recent years had also forgotten about Mercury. When current CEO Alan Mullaly took over the reins, he elected to focus the majority of the company’s strategy and resources on the Ford line. Mercury, in turn, suffered from a lack everything from advertising dollars to exclusive features and technology.

    Ford has already discontinued Mercury in Canada, and if it goes away entirely it would join several other venerable American brands that have been shuttered in the recent past, such as Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Plymouth. Mercury sales peaked in the late 1970s, but its heyday actually came earlier, in the 1950s and ’60s, when the brand offered high-performance cars like the Comet Cyclone and Marauder.

    Mercury was the creation of Edsel Ford, the son of Ford founder Henry Ford. Ford created Mercury from scratch, in an era where competitors like General Motors grew by acquiring other carmakers. “Edsel Ford is revered in the family and Mercury was his creation,” Wolkonowicz told Bloomberg. “This is the end of an era.”

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    1 - 20 of 51 Comments
    foleyfci Jun 03, 2010 9:35 AM
    I used to always drive Lincolns or Cadillacs. So after I retired in 2000, I needed a more economical full-sized car. The Grand Marquis fit the bill. My 2003 Grand Marquis in many ways, has outshined both my previous Lincolns and Cadillacs. It currently has 143,000 miles and has been maintenance-free except for oil, filter and tire replacements. No doubt, I will enjoy it until at least 200,000 miles. I would have bought another Grand Marquis in a heartbeat.
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    hgeorgech Jun 01, 2010 4:25 PM
    Sad that another American car brand is headed for phase out ... my personal favorite Mercury was the '55 Monterey 2Dr Hardtop - a beautiful car from any angle, Farewell, Mercury - R. I. P.
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    stpro Jun 01, 2010 1:22 PM
    I miss the days I could buy a two door V8 rear wheel drive car with a little Class. Mark VIII was the last that wasn't stang.
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    offlinee Jun 01, 2010 12:59 PM
    i had a mercury, Never Again... why? cause, my car was in the dealership all the time. and yes, i bought the car brand new....Never Again
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    lloyd11565 Jun 01, 2010 11:08 AM
    to heck with all these car makers ride a train or ride a horse
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    dcmdskier May 31, 2010 11:15 PM
    There shoul be no reason why Lincoln cannot survive in a Ford Franchise store because, The lexus 460 in Japan is sold in a Toyota store with the Toyota Celsor name plate on the trunk
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    lvsugar72 May 31, 2010 10:52 AM
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    themanindbox May 29, 2010 4:23 PM
    This is just another effort to outsource everything over seas.. Hell GM has already made major moves in that direction.. But when something goes wrong, its the Americans that need to bail them out.. Honda, toyota and Hyundia at this point are more american then Ford, GM, or chrysler.. Let them all go out of business..
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    jdeacon220 May 29, 2010 2:33 PM
    As with Pontiac, Mercury is too established of a brand name to just trash. Laid off auto employees of GM and Ford should be offered a chance to split it off into an employee-owned separate company. Just the venture itself, would get all kinds of new publicity for them -- saw a cool site; Balkingpoints ; incredible satellite view of earth
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    meiklesteele1 May 28, 2010 11:43 PM
    Mercury has been a forgoten brand for many years now, so the end of the line for Mercury is not a surprise to me. However, John Wolkonowicz is wrong about Ford throwing in the towel for Lincoln. Ford will focus on and improve Lincoln. With Mercury gone, Ford has no excuse not spend more on the Lincoln brand. Fords and Lincolns could easily coexist on the same lot at the Ford dealerships. Let's not forget that many Ford dealerships are loaded with several $30k-$50k+ vehicles (Taurus,Flex,F-series truck line up, Mustang line up)on there lots already, falling close to the cost range for the current Lincolns. Though similar to Fords, Lincolns are different enough to provide a good higher end alternative. I do agree stand alone Lincoln dealerships would not last, just like you don't see stand alone Cadillac dealerships (Chevy/Cadillac or Buick/Cadillac dealerships are common). With the absense of the Mercury line up, Milan,Mariner, Grand Marquis, and Mountaineer, Ford should and could add some more cars to the Lincoln line up like another small Lincoln, a hybrid suv/cuv(already in the works), a new Lincoln 2 door coupe, and an elite Lincoln vehicle, not to mention Ford could also spend more its own entry to mid-level vehicles. However, Lincoln will not last with only the MKZ,MKS,MKX, and the Navigator, all in its current line up which is weak, (the Towncar and the Mark LT are both at the end of production).
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    sergio109 May 28, 2010 8:09 PM
    My family has purchased Mercury vehicles since 1951! And we have had NO negative experiences! The service departments ALWAYS went the extra mile for our family! It is a shame that Ford doesn't get it: OFFER BUYERS NEW AND ATTRACTIVE PRODUCTS AND CUSTOMERS WOULD COME!! Geez The Marquis hasn't changed since 1991!! The Sable went from ugly to uglier despite a SUPERIOR ride quality. The vehicles are unattractive! (PS: The Lincoln Navigator is so ugly it looks like it has braces!) Even Buick, who heavily copied the 1996 Taurus with its previous generation LaCrosse , restyled the hell out of it, and sales are in double digits vs a year ago! Fire the design buffoons Ford, hire stylists who have a clue about today's trends and watch your bottom line grow. Guess I'll have to leave Ford products altogether now, Mercury was a good vehicle line......................
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    jtrynoble May 28, 2010 7:28 PM
    Sorry to see Ford phase out their Mercury Division. Sign of the times.
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    slancealot May 28, 2010 7:28 PM
    Haven't really seen a Mercury product I'd personally own since the original 1970-1978 Capri line- but those were really Ford of Germany products, wern't they?
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    tetonauto May 28, 2010 7:24 PM
    My Mom's favorite car was her 1971 Montego MX Coupe. It is sad to see another brand leave. I hope this is good news for Lincoln. The time is way past due for Ford to make Lincoln competitive again.
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    irishladyj May 28, 2010 7:18 PM
    When I buy my next car I was only going to look at Mercury because I have had such good luck with the five I have had. WHATS A GIRL TO DO?????? JLB
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    paulshuler May 28, 2010 7:08 PM
    well sad to see it go i would own nothing but a ford! ford is an american brand and showed there loyalty to america by not taking the bail out i mean hand out like gm did! the people of gm and there uaw screwed america and they know it never will buy a chevy or gm product!
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    jspeedy123 May 28, 2010 6:37 PM
    My wife and I have owned 4 Mercury villagers and still own 2 of them. They both have over 140,000 miles on them and have never needed a major repair of any kind . We just change the oil reguraly and have changed the transmission fluid on both of them.. And had tune ups once on each . Both of them are 2000 models. If mercury had continued to make them , we would have purchased a newer one by now. The cars are excellant vehicles. Our first Villager had over 187,000 miles and was still running when we sold it for scrap. ( ite was in one too many fender benders.)
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    bamapapa2 May 28, 2010 6:30 PM
    looks like we got some racist liberals posting very silly comments on Ford, KKK mobile,,,come on thats crap, and here it is Leave relevant remarks only......why lord do fools continue to live in america.....gm screwed the stockholders and non are telling that,,,,the stockholders made GM and they got pumped in the rear but that was ok,,,pretty soon GM will offer an IPO,,,now lets see how many fools in america will buy gm stock
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    ceosbi May 28, 2010 6:16 PM
    Sad to see the Mercury Grand Marquis ending. I am driving my third one and was going to buy a 2010 model but it doesn't have many of the features I had on my older Grand Marquis. The end of this car is a reflection of an entire country that is dying and being transformed into a communist third world power by the enemies of America who have totally infiltrated our political positions in Washington. Osama Bin Laden, Barack Hussein Obama, same thing. WAKE UP AMERICA AND TAKE AMERICA BACK !
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    DevAutos May 28, 2010 5:58 PM
    rjoeand May 28, 2010 3:12 PM Mercury cars used to be completely different than a Ford, but in recent years they are the same car with a different name on them._________________ The only time that Mercury wes realy different than Ford was 1949 - 1951. All the other years are alnost the same.
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    1 - 20 of 51 Comments
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