After 69 model years, Mercury’s long history came to an end Jan. 4, 2011, when a Grand Marquis rolled off Ford Motor Co.’s St. Thomas, Ontario, assembly plant at 8 a.m. The Grand Marquis sedan was the last Mercury built and is headed into fleet service. The company’s St. Thomas plant built Grand Marquis models for 25 years.
Production of the Ford Crown Victoria for police and taxi use will continue at St. Thomas until September, when the plant is scheduled to permanently close.
The first Mercury was built for the 1939 model year and was available as a coupe, convertible coupe and two- and four-door sedans. Ford touted it as “The car that dares to ask ‘Why?,’” and although the question dealt with why a big car couldn’t be an economical car, too, another question might have been why the Ford Motor Co. hadn’t introduced the Mercury sooner. The answer to that one undoubtedly was that it had taken that long for Edsel Ford to convince his father to build it.
The Mercury was priced in the thousand-dollar range, several hundred dollars more than the Ford V-8, yet several hundred less than the Lincoln-Zephyr. Its price placed it in the same price category as upper-range Olds and Dodges and lower-range Buicks and Chryslers, sales from all of which, it was hoped, the new Mercury would usurp. Its engine was a 95-hp version of the flathead Ford V-8, its styling was inspired by the Zephyr and it had hydraulic brakes from the beginning.
Early in its life, Mercurys were popular, and gained a cult-like following among hot rodders, who liked its higher-horse engines, and customizers, who saw a beautiful blank canvas upon which to personalize with torches and lead. That following continues today on Mercurys built through the ’50s.
A strong Mercury club remains active throughout the United States. Click here to find out more about the International Mercury Owners Association.