Thursday, May 27, 2010

So Long, Mercury

I read that Ford is going to shitcan Mercury. The Mercury brand was the brainchild of Henry's son Edsel. A lot of guys my age idealize old Mercury "lead sled" hot rods, made famous in the James Dean movie, "Rebel Without A Cause". I don't. Where I lived, those kind of cars were driven by members of "low rider" gangs. Some were White, a lot were Hispanic, some even Black. They were the natural enemy of White, middle class SoCal youth, whether Coastal or Valley dwelling.

I did like the Mercs of the late 50s and early 60s. They were wacky and fun in a Soupy Sales kind of way. The back seats were huge and the upholstery as bouncy as Granny's sofa. You could get them with suicide doors. Some of them had back windows that rolled down. You could throw stuff at the cars coming up behind you. Had to be careful with the dog back there though.

A guy I went to school withs mother bought him a brand new Couger in '67 or '68. They were rich. It was just a Mustang with retractable headlights, a plush interior, came stock with the 289 V-8 and automatic transmission . I thought it was very nice. He didn't like it because it was too much of a Mommy car. Probably was but so was the Mustang. The first car I ever had the pink slip on was a '61 Comet wagon. Total piece of shit. It would break down while parked. It ate a water pump every month or two and the engine block cracked, on two different engines. The two speed automatic was good though, never had a problem with that.

Nobody will miss Mercury. They're just Fords with a little different chrome and cladding. The last time they had anything distinctive was in the late 80s, when they imported a couple of Euro sport sedans badged under the Merkur name, the Skorpio and the XR4Ti. Remember those? Probably not. I really liked the XR4Ti. I'm really an idiot but not enough of one to actually purchase an XR4Ti. It was the first World Rally type car offered for sale in America. It had a turbocharged, inter cooled, high compression 4 cylinder engine, completely impractical for SoCal driving and went about six months between major engine rebuilds. Nobody knew how to work on them and all the parts had to be special ordered from Germany at huge cost. Even after they started selling them at a loss they weren't a good deal. They wouldn't have been a good deal if they paid you to take them.

So long, Mercury.

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