By Martyn W. Green
I am the proud owner and caretaker of a 1964 Park Lane Marauder. I enjoy taking my car to local shows, meeting and talking with lots of interesting people.
I started working at a chicken farm just up the road from my parents’ house in 1971 when I was 13 years old and worked there for over 5 years. Figured I needed a job and income. I thought I was doing pretty good making 90 cents per hour after school, weekends and during the summer.
I had my first car, a 1963 Renault R8 before I turned 16 and kept that car until I was 19.
The farmer that I worked for owned the Mercury for as long as I knew him and I always admired the car. If I am right, George told me he was the second owner and the car originally came from Texas, but I am not certain about that.
George had two sons and sold the Mercury to his youngest son, Steve. Steve also had a 1965 Mustang fastback, with a three-speed six-cylinder at the same time; not a fast car, but I always loved the lines.
The summer I graduated from high school, I went to work one day and saw a Pinto at the farm with the Mercury and Mustang. Steve decided to move into the city and thought the Pinto was a better match for parking on the city streets with its big rubber bumper protectors. He said he was going to sell the Mustang and the Mercury. My heart sank, as two of my favorite cars were heading off to new owners.
I asked how much the Mustang was, and Steve told me he wanted $200 for the car. I couldn’t wait to get home and convince my parents that the Mustang was the perfect car for me. I begged my parents to let me buy the car, and explained to my dad how easy it would be for him to “help me” put a 289 and four-speed in the car, and I was certain he had the ability to give it a fresh paint job in the back yard. I know he saw how much he was going to be expected to do and wanted nothing to do with the project. Dad said “That is a Ford son, you don’t want to buy that.” Dad was a MoPar guy at the time, as Mom had a 1964 Plymouth Sport Fury and he had a Fury III. I was told my Renault was just fine and I could not buy the Mustang.
I later found out the Mustang was sold to a high school aged kid in the mountains, and he did exactly what I wanted to do, but with a larger motor. The car did not last four weeks with him at the wheel and was lost forever when he hit a tree. It was a very sad ending to a beautiful car with so much potential. The kid was OK, but the car was totaled. His dad figured the Mustang was too light in the rear and bought him a Camaro instead. (Not sure his dad was very sharp.) The kid did the same thing to the Camaro, so dad his wised up and bought a 409 Chevy. The kid forgot to use the clutch and blew that one up. I hope he is driving Steve’s old Pinto now.
I was sad, but did not press my parents about the car. However, the following week Steve told me the Mercury was also for sale. I couldn’t wait to get home to relay the news that the Mercury was for sale, but at a much higher price. Steve wanted $500 for the car. When Dad got home from work I told him the Mercury was for sale and asked if I could buy it. The response surprised me. Dad told me I should buy the car before someone else did. I paused and then told my him that a Mercury was still a Ford. He said “Yes son, but that is a GOOD Ford. I worked on it for George and Steve and it’s a good car.” About one week later it was in our driveway along with my mom’s very pretty Sport Fury. It was a good-looking driveway, I thought. At the age of 17 I was the owner of a very classy car.
The car was not perfect, but looked so striking with the “fastback” roof line, black paint, bright stainless steel trim and white bucket seat interior.
When not working, my future wife and I spent a lot of time cleaning the beautiful interior and trying to polish the black paint. Having been stored at a chicken farm under a three sided building for many years. the car was exposed to a myriad of roosting loose chickens each night. The resulting acid stains were very bad for the paint, but my lack of funds prevented any serious thought of a new paint job.
In the fall of 1975, at the age of 17, I headed off to the local community college. My father was a working class man and did not have the money to send me to a big school. He thought that I should keep working part time and pay for my tuition at the community college. Dad said that if I paid the tuition I would get more out of my education, have more incentive to get good grades, and stay in school. He did, however, offer a deal. My parents had an Agway hand crank gas pump at the end of the driveway, and my dad told me that if I kept up my grades and paid tuition like I promised, he would pay for the gas to go to school and my part-time job until I got out of college.
At that time I still had the Renault along with the Mercury, but the Mercury was much more fun to drive, so it took me off to college almost daily. I was snagging the gas pump keys out of the old plastic Parkay dish on top of the refrigerator and backing up to the gas pump about every two nights. One evening I came home and Dad was sitting at the kitchen table with paper, pencil, and a calculator. He’d figured out that he was not making out so good on his gas deal with me. He did keep his promise, but asked me to please drive the Renault a few days a week. In the end, it would have been less expensive for him to have paid my tuition for two years.
Earlier, when I was 15, my father had told me I could have his 1939 Chevrolet pickup when I turned 16. I was convinced he would help me hot rod it because it was way too far gone to restore. By the time I was 16, Dad had a convenient memory lapse and did not remember the conversation about the pickup. Regardless, I reminded everyone I knew that the old hulk rusting away in the side yard was mine. The truck sat for many years at my parents’ house just down the road from the chicken farm and never was cared for or hot rodded.
In the early 1990s a friend of mine asked to buy the truck because he had a 472-cubic inch Cadillac motor he just had to put in the truck. He came to the house and measured where the straight-six was and said the 472 would fit fine. He told me that if I gave him the truck and paid for the supplies, he and his friends would paint the Mercury because it really needed a paint job. Dad paid $1000 for the truck about 30 years before, gave it to me for free and it did not take long to figure out it was a pretty good deal for me.
We loaded the truck and car onto rollbacks and off they went to a remote barn two counties away to be painted by a few good old boys. I got the car back a few months later, the cracked lacquer paint and acid stains all sanded down and covered with fresh jet black paint. I owed my friend $250 for the paint materials and the title to the pickup. I thought that was a very good deal as I could not afford a paint job any other way. The paint is now 25 years old and looks very good.
The interior of my car is original. I replaced the carpet about the same time the car got painted. People are amazed at the condition of the interior.
Basically, the car is original with the exception of the 25-year old paint and the rebuilt motor, done in 1998. All of the stainless steel and chrome are original.
I did some research, and if what I found is correct, there were only 2,721 Mercury Park Lane Marauders with the 63C fastback body style and Sport Option bucket seat interior. My car has the FE Super Marauder, 390-cubic inch, V-8 with four-barrel carburetor and Merc-O-Matic floor shift automatic. This big-block Z-Code 390 is rated for 300 hp and 427 ft.-lbs. of torque.
I have had many offers on my car but it will never be for sale. I have owned this car for 42 years now and it is part of me and my identity. It is my responsibility to make sure it is taken care of. I have willed the car to friends of mine, and asked that it be donated to the AACA Museum in Hershey. It is nowhere near perfect, but hopefully it can be appreciated, admired and cared for. It will be like going home for my Marauder, as the museum is only a half-mile from the chicken farm that it came from in 1975. The farm is no longer there, but the Mercury is going strong 53 years after it rolled out of the factory.