By on January 3, 2013

By the time the last few years of the Mercury-ized version of the Ford Crown Victoria rolled around, every single Grand Marquis sold was an Ultimate Edition. Back in the late 1990s, however, Mercury shoppers had more choices. Including, apparently, a Safety Edition. Here is an example I found in a Denver self-service yard last week.
A close look at the badges on the fenders makes me think that we’re dealing with some sort of dealer-installed or coachbuilder option, not a factory trim level.
The vinyl landau roof is a good indicator that some (no doubt Florida-based) company created its own line of Safety Edition Grand Marquis de Sades, perhaps in a shop just down the street from the one that made the faux-vertible ’97 Cougar XR7.
The cylinder heads are in the trunk, which offers a solid clue about the reason for this car’s current parking place.
I couldn’t find any signs of safety features beyond what all Panthers got in 1997. Perhaps this car got the police-grade stab-proof seats to protect the driver from unruly back-seaters.

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60 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis LS Safety Edition...”


  • avatar
    Omnifan

    The car was sold in Ft Myers FL, thus the reason for the vinyl padded top. Old timers delight.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Back in 1995 my Grandfather had a 2 year lease on one of these in the same color. I guess the Town Car was more expensive that year.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I saw an ~06 Grand Marq the other day which was a “Tuxedo Edition” with a black/white leather interior! It looked overdone.

    Also, in this generation, is the leather the same quality as the TC (Cartier excluded)?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      The 1990-98 Town Cars look dang good in a Tuxedo interior, especially if the carpet, dash, & door panels are black.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Are you sure that was an option? If so, I’ve NEVER seen one. Which trim level was it on?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @CoreyDL, one of the Panther experts will have to weigh in on this one, I’ve seen them on eBay but never seen one in person. I wouldn’t be supprized if it was a dealer taking a black interior Town Car and swapping white leather seats with black pipping into the car.

        Although you should remember that in the 90s Cadillac was selling cars with red interiors with white seats and blue interiors with white seats. I think the blue/white combo was refered to as a “nautical edition”.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      In my opinion, the Town Cars have always had nicer seats.

    • 0 avatar
      StaysCrunchy

      No factory Tuxedo Edition, nor Safety Edition for that matter. F/L/M did have a couple of “Editions” on the ol’ Grand Ma(rquis) but not those two.

      Several years ago I looked at an F150 advertised (in the newspaper if that gives you an idea of exactly how long ago) by a local used car lot. The ad said “1994 Ford F150 Lightning” and then had the price which I don’t exactly remember, but I do remember it was a lot lower than what I thought a Lightning should sell for. So I pull in to the lot and there sits this refrigerator white F150 Super Cab, long box, plain grey bumpers, grey grille, plain steel 15″ wheels, blue interior with vinyl bench seat and vinyl flooring, and on each bedside there were these 24″ long decals that — in baby blue Gothic font no less — said “LIGHTNING” in all caps.

    • 0 avatar
      supremebrougham

      Through the 1990’s the Grand Marquis was only available from the factory in GS or LS trims. Anything else you see on one from that era is an aftermarket affair.

      Believe it or not, there was a factory authorized vinyl top option offered for these for a little while. It was done by ASC but was shown in the showroom brochure as a factory option. I’ve only seen a few of them.

      In the 2000’s Mercury did offer the Ultimate and Palm Beach Editions, and those were factory things, along with an LSE model, that came with a console shifter!

      As for the Town Car of the 1990’s, they were offered in base Executive Series, mid-level Signature Series and top-line Cartier trims. During 1992-93 they did offer a Jack Nicklaus Signature Series that came in Deep Jewel Green with a white interior and the ASC full vinyl roof. In 1996-97 there was a Cypress Edition. It was painted Cypress Gold Frost and had “Cypress Edition” badges on the fenders and special floor mats that matched the subtle two-tone interior. The 1998 redesign saw a Touring Edition that survived for a few years.

      Can you tell I used to work at a Lincoln-Mercury dealer back in those years???

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Knowledge of the Panther side is strong with this one.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Well sir, you’ve forgot the Spinnaker Edition. As well, the Touring Package became an option in 96 I believe (I think you have to look under the hood to tell if it’s there). Finally, I have seen a Jack Nicklaus which was on the revised body style ’95-’97 version.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Don’t forget the various Grand Marquis/Crown Vic options boxes that would get you a towing/handling package with genuine dual exhausts, a small hp bump, revised rear axle ratio, and firmer suspension. Those are the ones I desire but rarely see in the wild.

      • 0 avatar
        SaulTigh

        I have a much loved 1996 Grand Marquis LS which has been my daily driver for the last 10 years. It has a paint color of which I’ve only every seen one other example. Under sunlight, it looks green, but under any kind of artificial light it looks blue. The interior is green leather, green carpet, green dash. Any idea what Ford called the color? The hand written key tag from the dealer just said “GREEN” in block letters.

        It also makes me very sad to see one of her sisters up on blocks in a junkyard.

      • 0 avatar
        supremebrougham

        @SaulTigh It sound like Light Willow Green to me.

      • 0 avatar
        supremebrougham

        The Touring packages were an option group, and did not have any special badges that came with it. The easiest way to identify one that had it was by the wheels, they were a unique lacy-spoke affair with a small center cap, which was not to be confused with the ones that had a large center cap.

        As for the Spinnaker Edition, I can believe it, but I don’t recall having ever encountered on in person.

        FWIW, in the mid-late 80’s, the pastel blue that you could get these in was called Spinnaker Blue, though I doubt there was any connection to that and this Edition.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Here you go! http://www.flickr.com/photos/autohistorian/5203136327/

        And here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/autohistorian/5203136327/

        Very distinctive interior on that there Townie.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        SaulTigh — both the Dark Green Satin Metallic and the Light Willow Green Metallic (not to be confused with *Medium* Willow Green Metallic) look somewhat blue in certain lights, but one is quite a bit darker than the other, obviously:

        http://gtcarlot.com/colors/Mercury/Grand+Marquis/1996/

  • avatar
    cargogh

    Nice shot of the Gran Marquis in gold.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    This feels like a Seinfeld reference.

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      “What about the Northstar system?”

      “I don’t think we even use it.”

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Nice. The irony being the Fleetwood used in the show wasn’t equipped with said Northstar system.

        MORTY: My son bought me that car!

        JACK: Your son?

        MORTY: Yeah.

        JACK: Your son could never afford that car. We all saw his act, last year, at the playhouse. He’s lucky he can pay his rent!

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The whole vinyl/landau top movement had to have started as stoner thought.

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      The first car with a required (standard) vinyl top, I think, was the 1967-71 Thunderbird four-door; this was because the S-shaped “landau bar” partially hid the rear door opening (the rearmost part of the door extended up into the window area), and the seam for the part that wasn’t along the landau bar would have looked horrible if not obscured by a dark vinyl roof. (According to ’67 dealer sales info at oldcarbrochures.com, white was one of the vinyl roof colors offered – the other three were dark – but I’ve never seen a four-door T-bird with white vinyl roof, in a photo or otherwise.)

      [EDIT: There\'s a photo of a \'67 with white vinyl roof at http://automotivemileposts.com/carshowtbird67.html (second photo from top). It does indeed look horrible with the visible cutline going up into the roof.]

      As for purely decorative vinyl roofs, I suppose the idea was to emulate convertibles, especially when used on coupes with “bows” in their roofs such as the 1962-64 GM B-body full-size cars; later in the 1960s they began to appear on cars whose roof shapes didn’t resemble convertibles at all. But many vinyl-roofed cars in the pre-opera window era looked sharp, such as the “flying buttress” 1966-67 GM intermediate coupes and 1968-70 Dodge Charger.

      • 0 avatar
        roger628

        Maybe the first but not the only. 1967 2 door hardtop LTDs also had standard vinyl roofs (Along with 1967 Mercury Marquis and 1968 Meteor 2 door formal hardtops)
        http://www.oldirononline.com/brochures/Ford/1967/FullSize/index.htm

        To make the formal appearance, they took the standard Galaxie 500 roof and tacked in a triangular piece of sheetmetal, and finished it with a convertible quarter window. Evidently cheaper to cover with vinyl than properly metal finish it.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Could it be the fuel tank updates they did to these to avoid explosions when police cars were ran into while on the side of the road?

    I never knew if these updates made it to the consumer version of the Vic.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    This brings back memories of visiing my retired, snowbird parents who stayed just south of Ft. Meyers in the late 90’s. It seemed like every other car on the road there was either a Crown Vic, Merc or TC. They made some scary left hand turns into parking lots with those barges.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Perhaps the safety part is the opera lamps on the B pillar to make you more visible at night. (eye roll)

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Perhaps it was Ralph Nader’s personal car?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    “The cylinder heads are in the trunk, which offers a solid clue about the reason for this car’s current parking place.”

    Sorry; I’m not getting it. It looks to me like someone went to a lot of trouble to disassemble the engine, and the only thing missing is the intake system. You don’t have to remove the heads for that.

    • 0 avatar

      The plastic intake manifolds of a lot of 4.6 Fords from this era develop cracks, which means it’s pretty common for them to get pulled at junkyards. My guess is that the intake was sitting in the trunk next to the heads (which were removed for a blown-gasket job which the owner abandoned after disassembly) and some junkyard Ford shopper grabbed it.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick 2012

        Ford settled a big class action for the cracking intake manifold. Mine went out and had to be replaced. By the grace of God I found my repair receipt a few days before the settlement cut-off date. That was a nice $600 boost for a college student.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        They did a facory recall on mustangs but piece-meal recalled crown vics. I remember going to high school and my hood smoking like cheech and chong. Great way to show up.

      • 0 avatar
        SaulTigh

        Mine sadly blew after the class action end date. The only time in 10 years she’s broken down on me. $800 later I have an aluminum intake.

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    There was a recall on the intake manifolds those because the stress placed on the unit from the alternator mount bosses (yes, the alternator was attached to the intake manifold) would cause the water galley to split open under hard acceleration.

    It happened on my ’96 Clown Vic when I was passing another motorist one day. Coolant blew everywhere and pegged the temp gage until I could shut it down. No permanent damage, though.

    Perhaps they blew the manifold and kept driving long enough the score the cylinders–

    the Safety Edition looks like something cooked up at a local dealer–and they got their graphics from the hardware store down the street. I can only imagine the spiel the customer had to endure as that was tacked onto the sticker price!

    Edmunds.com said however, ” Or you can go for the Palm Beach Edition package, which includes chrome wheels, chrome-trimmed mirrors, cashmere leather seats embroidered with “Palm Beach” logos and satin-finish metallic interior trim.”

    or you could do this–
    http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/4/731/3789/39326894001_large.jpg
    for the ultimate hooptie ride.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I’m going to guess Safety Edition was just a joke placed on it by the final owner after the engine croaked. Certainly would be quite safe not being able to operate anymore.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    IIRC Lincoln/Mercury more than anyone else seemed to have these odd Special editions centered around padded vinyl roofs and the name of the special edition , rendered in a chrome , paint or tape call-out . When we would visit my wife’s in-laws in the nineties her aunt would every year or two have a new Town car , always with some label- Collector’s Series , Presidential Edition , Congressional Edition- always seemingly the same options of the vinyl top and leather interior , tho I remember one with blanked out quarter windows and snazzier wheels . My sister-in-law , self described ” Cougar queen ” had IIRC a ” Texas Edition ” Cougar of the same era , also with the padded top . Don’t know which of these were factory editions , regional / Spring specials or dealer add-ons .

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Over the summer I spotted a Texas edition F150 from afar, with Texas plates of course. I initially figured this was a DIY special, but I got up close and the badging looked OEM.

      • 0 avatar
        turbobrick

        I don’t think it’s anything other than a wheel & chrome gingerbread package that all the Ford dealers in Texas keep pushing. Half the trucks on the road seem to be those.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I tend to agree. Funny thing is though, this is PA and I found the Texas Edition strangely attractive… here it would actually make sense as a special edition.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I do know that padded roofs are exceedingly common in the South due to hail damage. Insurance companies will often encourage you to get a vinyl roof installed as it saves them money on dent repair.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        Never heard of that. Padded roofs are practically gone now. Having one would only save the roof, but not the windows, hood, trunk lid, or fenders.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        I’ve never heard of this before either. Also, having known people with hail damage, none of their insurance companies mentioned this either. Is this something from many many years ago, because this doesn’t protect other panels as gslippy said, and there aren’t mass numbers of people with vinyl roofs in the South (South Florida is not the South).

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Or “Oh hail yes !” after a few drinks. I think old Jim Bob and Shorty are pulling some folks legs. Not much padding in the roof, not much area covered, lot’s of Benjamins for selling dealer added crap. More options, more insurance needed. Geezers just wanting to roll geezer style and justifying. No, there’s not one on dad’s DTS aka Darth.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      A lot of the special editions were dealer specials. Lincoln did have in-house Cartier, and various Designer series that came from the factory, but the ‘Presidential’ ‘Congressional’ etc were all dealer applied roof and trim packages to try to add some extra gross to the vehicle.

      As far as the F-150 special editions go, the Texas edition (and I believe there was an Oklahoma edition as well, though I’ve never seen one in person) was just a tailgate badge that said ‘Texas Edition’. A couple years back my dealer bought a bunch of trucks from a dealer in Texas that was trying to downsize their inventory. A bunch of them had ‘Texas Edition’ badges that we just had the detail guys remove when they prepped them from the lot.

      There are also a lot of dealer-installed and 3rd party aftermarket packages on various trucks. I had a guy wanting to trade in his ‘Patriots Edition’ F-150, which he felt made it super-special and valuable, but all it was was a regular F-150 with some dealer installed New England Patriots emblems and decals. There are more involved aftermarket conversions like the F-150 ‘Black Ops’ and ‘FTX’ packages that can be anything from just some extra body cladding to actual suspension lift, exhaust, and engine upgrades, but those aren’t as common.

  • avatar
    Nick

    Murilee…go back and look at the glass. I know that in the last couple of years of Grand Marquis availability here in Canada, one option was distinctly thicker glass than standard. Not bulletproof, of course, but far more resistant to the predations of angry mobs. Presumably the target market was consular staff.

  • avatar
    NewsLynne

    We have a 2002 in the family driven by my 92-year-old grandfather. Same color as this example with the delightful Smurf blue “leather” interior.

    A true senior delight. When he stops driving, it will probably become mine. Or I’ll sell. What a barge.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    The carriage roof looks like another example of E&G Classics’ handiwork. Pretty standard landau roof package with 2″ chrome band and opera lights, I think they still sell them for ’90s Grand Marquis to this day.

    I’ve know I’ve seen a Safety Edition badge before, I believe it was on a Sable and it was in Florida, it stuck out because of how weird it was. Wouldn’t surprise me if it was done by some creative dealership – remember, things like dual airbags and ABS were still fairly new features to most car buyers in the mid 1990s. I could see sticking a “Safety Edition” badge on the car and pretending it had to do with “exclusive” new safety features that were actually pretty much on every car by that point.

  • avatar
    markholli

    Each Safety Edition came with Men Without Hats’ Rythem of Youth album. Buyers choice of CD or cassette.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Absolutely GREAT cars. Before the gas tank thing they had a proper three-body trunk and very nice lines. They got pretty good gas mileage, were comfortable and quiet and held six (and their luggage) easily. Stone reliable, too. Ford made a ton of money on them. I think they quit making them because it didn’t fit with their hep-cat self-image, but it was a mistake. With I big enough sunroof this would have appealed to somewhat younger people.

    I remember taking mom to the hospital in one of these in her later years. It was really hard to spot in the parking lot. The unique thing about driving a Grand Marquis was its ability to use handicap parking. People just assume.

  • avatar
    mccall52

    Perhaps someone was in the middle of a ‘performance improved’ head swap and jumped ship.

    Not sure if someone has already pointed this out or not, but Fort Myers would put this car in South Florida, hence the carriage roof kit and whatever the hell, contrived, ‘Safety Edition’ badging.

    This car does have the automatic climate control and the luxury radio from the time, so this is a top shelf model.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Would love to find a floor shifter dual exhaust model in blue or red in mint shape for a Summer cruiser.

  • avatar
    jayzwhiterabbit

    I’d love to get one of those late-model Mercury Maurader’s with the floor-shift auto and souped-up engine/suspension. I think they only came in black or dark maroon.


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