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The Mercury Grand Marquis

For over thirty years, Mercury took what Edmunds called an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach to the Grand Marquis, and by-and-large, it worked.  The Grand Marquis, like its siblings, the Crown Victoria and the Lincoln Town Car, made up for its bare-bones engineering with a spacious cabin and a smooth, quiet ride. 

The Grand Marquis name first appeared as a high trim level version of the Marquis, one of Mercury’s full size sedans, in 1975.  The Grand Marquis filled in the gap between the Marquis and the Lincoln Continental to compete with cars like the Buick Electra and the Chrysler New Yorker. 

In 1979, the Marquis moved to Ford’s mid-size Fox platform, and the Marquis became its own model on the full-size Panther platform. At that point the Grand Marquis was the only full-size Mercury, becoming the flagship of the line. The Grand Marquis used a 5 liter, and later a 5.8 liter V8. The big, torquey engine helped to offset some of the weight of the blocky, body on frame car. In 1983, the engine got a power boost, switch from carburetors to fuel injection. 

Other changes to follow, included optional air shocks in 1985, a third brake light in 1986, and a heated rear windshield, marketed under the trade name “Instaclear” in 1988.  During this period, the Grand Marquis was sometimes used by limousine fleets as an alternative to the Lincoln town car. 

Although the Grand Marquis had an exterior redesign in 1988, it didn’t get its first major update until 1992.  The new version maintained its rear-wheel drive layout and body on frame construction, but took on a sleeker, more aerodynamic shape.  The vinyl roof and imitation wire wheels of the first generation disappeared to contribute to a more modern look.  On the mechanical side, the suspension and brakes were improved.  The engine was Ford’s new-for-1991 4.6L Modular V8.  Even though displacement was down, the new engine offered more power.  1992 saw the model’s highest yearly production at over 160,000 cars.  Sales tapered off until the Grand Marquis’ competitors, the Chevy Caprice and Buick Roadmaster, went out of production in 1996, leaving the Crown Vic and Grand Marquis as the only RWD V8 sedans in their price range. 

The Third Generation debuted in 1998, but with a very similar look to the previous generation. The chassis and engine were also carried over. Other changes were minor. Still, 1999 saw the Grand Marquis’ second highest production numbers, over 140,000. 

The next major reboot for the Grand Marquis came in 2003. Ford updated the Panther platform with a more rigid frame, rack and pinion (rather than recirculating ball) steering, and redesigned suspension.  A reviewer for the New York Times noted that the new steering system had “good on-center feel, precise calibration, and good feedback,” a far cry from the vague steering noted in the previous generations.  Somehow the ride remained as smooth as ever. The Times compared the ride to “spongecake.” 

 

Still, the visual design was aging and the engineering was behind the time. Sales were dropping off year by year, dropping from over 50,000 in 2007 to about 30,000 in 2008. In 2008, Ford discontinued retail sales of the Crown Vic, leaving the Grand Marquis as the last of its kind. The Grand Marquis soldiered on until 2011, when it and the Mercury brand were discontinued. 

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Mercury is a registered trademark of Ford Motor Company. 1A Auto is not affiliated with or sponsored by Mercury or Ford Motor Company. See all trademarks.

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