The Truth About Cars » Mercury http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 14 Nov 2014 23:53:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Mercury http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1985 Mercury Grand Marquis LS Colony Park Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1985-mercury-grand-marquis-ls-colony-park-woodie-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-1985-mercury-grand-marquis-ls-colony-park-woodie-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938577 The popularity of the full-size station wagon went into steep decline during the course of the 1980s, thanks to competition from minivans and less truck-ish SUVs, and there wasn’t a particularly compelling reason to get a Mercury wagon instead of its near-identical, cheaper Ford sibling, so the 1979-1991 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park wagon was […]

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13 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin
The popularity of the full-size station wagon went into steep decline during the course of the 1980s, thanks to competition from minivans and less truck-ish SUVs, and there wasn’t a particularly compelling reason to get a Mercury wagon instead of its near-identical, cheaper Ford sibling, so the 1979-1991 Mercury Grand Marquis Colony Park wagon was uncommon then and near-extinct now. I do see some Ford LTD Country Squires in wrecking yards nowadays— this ’86 woodie and this ’87 woodie, for example— but this Colony Park is the first I’ve seen in at least a decade.
01 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis generation of Colony Park wasn’t quite as majestic as its 1950s and 1960s predecessors, but it also got about twice as many miles per gallon as those barges.
11 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe good old familiar 302-cubic-inch Windsor V8, still fitted with a carburetor in 1985, powered this wagon.
25 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOpera lights!
17 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis fender trim has a very maze-like shape.
08 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAre there little speakers in the steering wheel, or are those holes merely decorative?
10 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Colorado sun has not been kind to these leather seats.

The Grand Marquis kicked some Buick and Oldsmobile butt, to hear Mercury tell it.

01 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1985 Mercury Colony Park Wagon Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1977 Mercury Comet Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/junkyard-find-1977-mercury-comet-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/junkyard-find-1977-mercury-comet-sedan/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 13:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910282 With a Ford Maverick sedan as yesterday’s Junkyard Find, it seemed only right that we follow up with the Maverick’s Mercury sibling (which I photographed in the same junkyard, on the same day). Today’s Malaise Era Ford is rough but more complete than yesterday’s car, so let’s crank up >one of the few good pop […]

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03 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith a Ford Maverick sedan as yesterday’s Junkyard Find, it seemed only right that we follow up with the Maverick’s Mercury sibling (which I photographed in the same junkyard, on the same day). Today’s Malaise Era Ford is rough but more complete than yesterday’s car, so let’s crank up >one of the few good pop songs of 1977 and study this phenomenon.
06 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe ’77 Comet’s straight-six engine, which is a 200-cubic-inch unit making about 7 horsepower (actually 96) or an optional 250 (which made just 98 horses but quite a bit more torque than the 200), required patience on the part of the driver, especially with the AC on.
09 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Comet had a somewhat sportier-looking grille than the Maverick, and the base sticker price for the six-cylinder sedan reflected such upgrades by being 70 bucks higher than the Maverick’s.

The only economy car with a little cougar in it.

01 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Junkyard Find: 1988 Mercury Tracer Hatchback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/junkyard-find-1988-mercury-tracer-hatchback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/junkyard-find-1988-mercury-tracer-hatchback/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 13:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=905001 Here’s a rare one! We’re familiar with the 1990s Mercury Tracer that was a Mercury-badged Ford Escort (which was itself a Ford-badged Mazda), but the 1987-89 Tracer was a rebadged and left-hand-drive Ford Laser, a crypto-snazzy Australian version of the Mazda 323. They sold in very small quantities in the United States, and so it […]

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09 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHere’s a rare one! We’re familiar with the 1990s Mercury Tracer that was a Mercury-badged Ford Escort (which was itself a Ford-badged Mazda), but the 1987-89 Tracer was a rebadged and left-hand-drive Ford Laser, a crypto-snazzy Australian version of the Mazda 323. They sold in very small quantities in the United States, and so it took me a moment to identify this example that I spotted last week in a Denver self-service wrecking yard. As an excellent example of “rare ≠ valuable,” it seemed worthy of this series.
19 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNot even 65,000 miles on the clock. Perhaps it sat in a garage for most of its life, barely emerging onto the street.
14 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt was running in 2006, though, because there’s a Colorado State Parks pass from that year on the windshield.
04 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinVaguely sporty-looking yet late-80s generic.
16 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Mazda B engine, used in everything from Kia Rios to Mazda Miatas.

Just the car for a night of wrestling!

01 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1988 Mercury Tracer Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Piston Slap: The Fallacy of Miata Ride Comfort? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-fallacy-miata-ride-comfort/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-fallacy-miata-ride-comfort/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:53:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=903449   TTAC Commentator johnny ro writes: Hi Sajeev, So I like my new 2010 Miata Touring (second car and half time daily driver), and picked it because it looked good on the side of the road by my house, low miles (19k), priced OK(mid 14’s), I had the dough saved up for a bike and […]

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photo courtesy: www.flyinmiata.com

TTAC Commentator johnny ro writes:

Hi Sajeev,

So I like my new 2010 Miata Touring (second car and half time daily driver), and picked it because it looked good on the side of the road by my house, low miles (19k), priced OK(mid 14’s), I had the dough saved up for a bike and I am happy with the current Vstrom, and last but not least it is an automatic. The OEM suspension seems firm to me but obviously not race ready. Roads in Northeast are usually not-so-new ranging down to horrible. Miata people say its mushy and floaty, those who want to autocross or race.

It’s body is stiffer than my 1999 was. The 1999 benefited from chassis stiffeners- new frame rails, X-brace underneath, frog arms under the front fenders, door bars. Still a small noisy uncomfortable car for more than an hour. The 2010 is a bit more comfortable. For the 2006-2014 there are also aftermarket body stiffeners and plenty of suspension upgrades all meant to improve track performance.

What I really want is a GT, not a race car. I am not interested in more power.

Question for the best and brightest, should I bother stiffening the body on an automatic Miata?

What suspension would make it more civilized without less comfort?

Am I better off buying a true GT? What GT for $14k.

Sajeev answers:

When someone complains about a stock one, the words “Miata Ride Comfort” make no sense together. Instead do an LSX-FTW swap so you’ll rarely have the time to focus on the punishing ride. And no, I’m only partially kidding.

To wit, a friend once asked if their Miata wouldn’t punish one’s lower back with the upgraded leather slip covers from a Grand Touring model: what a load of trash! Leather seats aren’t magically wrapped around Fleetwood Brougham thrones, or even CamCord thrones. Time to suck it up and buy a more comfortable car.

“What I really want is a GT, not a race car.”

Oh wait, you already admitted that.  Why? Chassis stiffeners cannot cut the impact harshness from a pothole, they help the suspension/steering/braking systems work as intended in spirited driving on imperfect roads.  Which totally isn’t the same thing.

And if there is a softer-than-stock suspension (not likely) it won’t help enough. Considering roadster levels of suspension travel, seat cushion padding, short wheelbase, light weight (to some extent), low-ish profile tires, a quite-modest sprinkling of NVH reducing materials…see where I’m going with this?

Go find a pre-engineered GT car!  A Mazda 3 or 6 sedan is a logical and practical step backward, but perhaps there are too many doors.  Maybe a Mazda 2? Maybe a somewhat used Mustang? Not refined enough.  A fairly used 3-series?  If you know a good indie-BMW mechanic and don’t mind paying them.  A garage-queen C5 Corvette with Magnaride and conventional (not run-flat) tires?  Entirely possible.

 

 

Or just suck it up and maraud your way to love…

 

 

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(photo courtesy: www.empireautos11.com)

…Panther Love…

…SON!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

 

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Vellum Venom Vignette: My Brother’s Keeper http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/vellum-venom-vignette-brothers-keeper/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/vellum-venom-vignette-brothers-keeper/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 12:41:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=904169 Reader Request: discuss the Lincoln Mark VIII, preferably the second generation’s modest restyle. He likely didn’t care for my reply, as it follows my disapproval of the Original Testarossa versus that rolling abortion that disrespectfully ended Ferrari’s most iconic series. Then I parked beside a 2000 Mercury Sable on a fine Houston evening. Allow me […]

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IMG_3381

Reader Request: discuss the Lincoln Mark VIII, preferably the second generation’s modest restyle. He likely didn’t care for my reply, as it follows my disapproval of the Original Testarossa versus that rolling abortion that disrespectfully ended Ferrari’s most iconic series.

Then I parked beside a 2000 Mercury Sable on a fine Houston evening.

1996_Mercury_Sable_004_3199

Allow me to explain with Lincoln-Mercury fanboi facts. The 1993 Lincoln Mark VIII was an avant-garde reinstatement of Lee Iaococca’s “Thunderbird designed by a guy named Vinnie” : blending delicious proportions of the 1989 Thunderbird, sculptural elements of the 1993 Ford Probe and the once-mandatory Continental DNA of the once-relevant Lincoln Brand.

The 1996 Sable, avoiding the ovoid pitfall of its Taurus sister ship, went four door Mark VIII: right down to the elegant roof and slender tail lights!

2004-mercury-sable-side_mesab043

Both the redesigned Mark VIII (1997) and the redesigned Sable (2000) took the original idea and milquetoasted it hopes of regaining lost sales. Neither worked, literally.

So let’s go back to the parking lot.

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These brothers couldn’t be more different, even if they are the same. How did the original coke-bottle remain appealing (if you like American luxury coupes) while its younger brother got married, had a family and multiple failed careers after 1999?

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When these two brothers meet their maker, bodies reincarnated into crap we buy at WalMart, their souls will uncomfortably meet in heaven. Those two kids lived unique lives, but they know there’s no escaping the genetic connection. Blood is always thicker than water.

And the Cain and Abel reference? That’s more for the bloodbath between the Testarossa and the 512M. That’s gonna get ugly: 512M ugly.

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a lovely week.

 

 

 

 

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New York State Outlaws Posing With Big Cats, Chauncey the Cougar Snarls Somewhere http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/new-york-state-outlaws-posing-big-cats-chauncey-cougar-snarls-somewhere/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/new-york-state-outlaws-posing-big-cats-chauncey-cougar-snarls-somewhere/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 12:30:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=893882 If a law recently signed into effect by New York Governor Andrew Coumo had been on the books in the 1960s, it’s possible that the Mercury Cougar might have been named something else. In that alternative universe, the law would also have likely completely changed the direction of the Mercury brand in the 1960s and […]

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Full gallery here.

Full gallery here.

If a law recently signed into effect by New York Governor Andrew Coumo had been on the books in the 1960s, it’s possible that the Mercury Cougar might have been named something else. In that alternative universe, the law would also have likely completely changed the direction of the Mercury brand in the 1960s and 1970s. A.9004/S.6903 prohibits exhibitors of big cats, lions, tigers, jaguars/panthers, and cougars (aka mountain lions), from allowing the public to have “direct contact” with the exotic animals. For the purpose of the law, direct contact includes both physical contact like petting or posing with the animal, proximity to it, as well as allowing photography without a permanent physical barrier between them, protecting the animal and the public. The bill was sponsored in the New York Assembly by Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), an animal rights advocate. Somewhere, Chauncey the Mercury Cougar snarls.

The act is primarily aimed at roadside zoos and traveling carnivals, things that have existed for generations. Rosenthal says that she became aware of the practice before people apparently recently started posting photos of themselves posing with big cats online, tiger selfies. It’s one of more than a dozen bills the assemblywoman has introduced on the premise of protecting animals.

1969-Mercury-20

Without a doubt, had the law been in place when the Mercury Cougar was introduced in 1966, while it’s possible that Ford Motor Company might have still named the car the Cougar, the use of live animals in that model’s introduction and marketing probably wouldn’t have happened, at least the way it was implemented. Also, since the success of the Cougar car and the use of live animals in its promotion led to Mercury’s use of “The Sign of the Cat” tagline in overall brand marketing, that too would have been unlikely under New York state’s new legislation.

The name Cougar as a car model name at Ford predates its use by Mercury as it was one of the names under consideration for what became the Mustang. As a matter of fact you can see photos of a mockup of what looks very much like the Mustang II concept car from when Ford stylists were still trying out ideas in 1963 and it’s wearing badging with a big cat, not a pony.

ford-mustang-with-cougar-badge

Ford had used the name publicly on a couple of concept cars including the Cougar II, a potential Corvette competitor built on a Shelby Cobra chassis with a 289 V8 that was shown at the same 1964 New York World’s Fair where the production Mustang first debuted. Apparently, the idea for a “man’s car” to slot in below the Thunderbird in Ford’s pricing scheme had resulted in a project called the T-7, also predating the Mustang. When the pony car was introduced to huge success, the T-7 project and the Cougar name were moved over to the Mustang platform.

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Introduced as a 1967 model by Lincoln Mercury on Sept. 30, 1966, the Cougar’s launch had been preceded by an elaborate public relations campaign to introduce the car, and it seems that a particular large cat, Chauncey the cougar, was part of that campaign from the beginning. The idea to use a live animal is attributed to Gayle Warnock, Ford’s PR director, and his assistant, Bill Peacock. Chauncey, then three years old, had been born in captivity. It’s owners had fed it dog feed and a nutritional deficiency resulted in temporary paralysis and lifelong hip problems. It’s thought that Chauncey’s trademark snarl was a defensive mechanism to compensate for his lack of leaping ability.

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Animal trainers Ted and Pat Derby rescued Chauncey as a four month old kitten, nursed it to health and put him to work in their California business, Animal World, that supplied exotic animals to the television and movie industry. One of Chauncey’s stablemates, Roxanne the bobcat, was used to promote the Mercury Bobcat, that brand’s version of the Ford Pinto. In later years, big cats would be used to sell another small Mercury, the Lynx, a badge engineered Ford Escort.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Chauncey’s work in Cougar commercials is well known. The big cat appeared in commercials with the likes of Farah Fawcett and won the first of multiple P.A.T.S.Y awards in 1969. That was an award that was formerly given to animal performers in Hollywood. With changing attitudes towards animal rights and animal performers, that award has since been retired.

From the Suburbanite Economist on July 31, 1974: "A television celebrity with a flair for a snarl will appear Aug. 3 at Van Dahm Lincoln Mercury Inc . 10201 S. Cicero Ave, Oak Lawn. Chauncey the H-year-old cougar star of Lincoln- Mercury division's Cougar XR 7 and Sign-of-the-Cat commercials, and Christopher -- the two-month-old cougar cub featured in Mercury Comet commercials. The cougars are two of 150 wild animals orphans who live at Ted and Pat Derb's Love is an Animal, a 300-acre farm near Buellton, California"

From the Suburbanite Economist on July 31, 1974:
“A television celebrity with a flair for a snarl will appear Aug. 3 at Van Dahm Lincoln Mercury Inc . 10201 S. Cicero Ave, Oak Lawn. Chauncey the H-year-old cougar star of Lincoln- Mercury division’s Cougar XR 7 and Sign-of-the-Cat commercials, and Christopher — the two-month-old cougar cub featured in Mercury Comet commercials. The cougars are two of 150 wild animals orphans who live at Ted and Pat Derb’s Love is an Animal, a 300-acre farm near Buellton, California”

Chauncey and Roxanne also made public appearances, which is where the Derby’s would have run afoul of the new law in New York. The animals were put on display at Mercury dealers, where the public was invited to watch them walk around, climb up on the cars and hopefully reproduce Chauncey’s famous pose on top of a Cougar. Photography was encouraged, and the public was protected from the big cats by just velvet ropes and the Derby’s training and handling of the animals. Those dealer appearances lasted at least until 1975, when Chauncey went on to big cat heaven.

Click here to view the embedded video.

It’s not clear when Lincoln-Mercury ended the dealer visits, but they continued to use live exotics into the 1980s, with cougars appearing live at the Chicago Auto Show in both 1980 and 1981.

That velvet rope used to keep the crowd from the cougar (and vice versa) at the 1980 Chicago Auto Show would not pass muster in New York State today, which now requires permanent physical barriers between the public and live big cats on display.

That velvet rope used to keep the crowd from the cougar (and vice versa) at the 1980 Chicago Auto Show would not pass muster in New York State today, which now requires permanent physical barriers between the public and live big cats on display.

The Cougar more than doubled original sales expectations, selling more than 150,000 units in the first year it was on sale. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Cougar nameplate would go on to more or less keep the Mercury brand on life support for the next four decades. When the Mustang was downsized to the Pinto platform in the mid 1970s, Chauncey eventually got a bigger Cougar to lay upon as it moved to the midsize Torino platform to become a sibling to the Thunderbird. Chauncey became the face of the brand, sitting on dealer signs in brand advertising as he had lounged on the roofs of Cougars. “The Sign of the Cat” became the brand’s overall tagline, as mentioned, other Mercury models were given feline names, and Chauncey’s snarl graced most Mercury commercials.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Despite the Cougar’s success, the bean counters in Dearborn wanted to kill the model in the 1970s. Ben Bidwell, who later was the number two executive at Chrysler, was then in charge of Lincoln-Mercury and he didn’t want to lose the model. By then, “The Sign of the Cat” was being used to promote Lincoln-Mercury dealers, with whom the tagline, and Chauncey, were popular.

signofthecat

There was a meeting in Ford’s Glass House HQ presided over by Henry Ford II. While the source doesn’t say when, I’m guessing that the time frame was when Ford was busy creating the Mustang II and trying to decide what to do with the Cougar, still based on the large 1972-73 Mustang.

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Bidwell was in the minority at the meeting. Most of those attending thought the current, rather bloated, Cougar wasn’t very good and that it was going to be too expensive to replace it. The Deuce went around the room, asking for opinions, which were mostly negative. Finally he turned to Bidwell and said, “We haven’t heard from you yet, Bidwell. What do you think?” Bidwell replied, “I just have one thing to say, Mr. Ford. You can’t have a cat house without a cat.” After The Deuce started to laugh, the other executives joined in and the Cougar was saved. The nameplate survived until 2002, though by then it shared a platform with the front wheel drive Ford Probe.

Pat Derby seems to have changed her thoughts over the years about the use of animal performers. A year after Chauncey died she and Ted Derby divorced, reportedly over his use of cattle prods in animal training.  She always asserted that she used kind, humane training methods. Pat Derby continued to display live cougars for Mercury for a few years but by 1984 Derby had retired her own animals and Pat and her companion Ed Stewart started PAWS, the Performing Animal Welfare Society, a sanctuary for captive wildlife. Here is their mission statement:

PAWS is dedicated to the protection of performing animals, to providing sanctuary to abused, abandoned and retired captive wildlife, to enforcing the best standards of care for all captive wildlife, to the preservation of wild species and their habitat and to promoting public education about captive wildlife issues.

Pat Derby passed away in 2013 at the age of 70. Her ex-husband Ted was killed in 1976 by a neighboring rancher upset over the alleged killing of some livestock by Derby’s animals.

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Pat Derby, Ed Stewart and Christopher, Chauncey’s replacement, at the 1979 Chicago Auto Show.

In his day Chauncey became quite the star, he even had two “doubles” to keep up with the demand for appearances. However, in a 1975 interview with a local newspaper covering a dealer appearance, Ted Derby insisted that anytime you’d see a cougar with a Mercury car, a Mercury sign or a model like Ms. Fawcett, that was Chauncey. Besides his doubles, Chauncey was also reproduced as a plush toy in  a variety of sizes, both as promotional items and for sale. If I have the story down correctly, one  life-size version came as standard equipment with the first high performance XR-7 Cougars in 1967. Those big stuffed cougars were also used as part of showroom displays, resting on top of Cougars.

To give you an idea of what the 1967 Mercury Cougar looks like with the roof down, here's a survivor from the Mid Michigan Mustang Show.

To give you an idea of what the 1967 Mercury Cougar looks like with the hood down, here’s an original condition survivor from the Mid Michigan Mustang Show. Full gallery here.

While the white Cougar with a black vinyl top pictured here apparently came with a plush Chauncey, it’s not original equipment, the car or the plush toy. The car has been restored and the owner told me that his copy of Chauncey was new old stock from a dealer’s back room. The car is an XR-7 Dan Gurney Special and the photographs are from two different events, Greenfield Village’s 2014 Motor Muster and the 2013 Mustang Memories show. Gurney won races in Cougars for FoMoCo in TransAm and he was a member of the Lincoln-Mercury Sports Panel with other notable athletes like Jesse Owens and Byron Nelson.

cougar trans am img_0017_r

Dan Gurney and Cale Yarborough raced this Bud Moore prepared Mercury Cougar successfully in the Trans Am series. Full gallery here.

I’m not sure how many people or exotic cats New York’s new law will protect. The institutions it targets, roadside attractions and carnies, are not known for treating animals to the standards of Pat Derby, and wild animals don’t have thousands of years of domestication and breeding out of aggression, so it’s probably a good idea. Still, I wasn’t able to find any record of anyone being hurt in all the years that Mercury used live big cats at dealer and other public appearances.

If you attend enough car shows you’ll see how owners like to add magazines, documentation and scale models to make their cars’ displays stand out. The live sized plush Chauncey, because it came with the cars and was used by dealers, and even more so, because the real cat and its image was so instrumental in establishing the Mercury brand’s subsequent identity, not only helps the car stand out at a car show, it also reminds show visitors of some of the now deceased nameplate’s history.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Junkyard Find: 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1981-mercury-grand-marquis/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1981-mercury-grand-marquis/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875617 Here’s another Junkyard Find that deserves the Sajeev’s Bitter Tears label. It qualifies for the Brown Car Appreciation Society, it’s an early Panther, and it’s a top-trim-level Grand Marquis (owners of which looked down their noses at lowly Marquis Brougham owners). Let’s explore this exquisite example of Late Malaise Era crypto-luxury, shall we? These cars […]

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09 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHere’s another Junkyard Find that deserves the Sajeev’s Bitter Tears label. It qualifies for the Brown Car Appreciation Society, it’s an early Panther, and it’s a top-trim-level Grand Marquis (owners of which looked down their noses at lowly Marquis Brougham owners). Let’s explore this exquisite example of Late Malaise Era crypto-luxury, shall we?
13 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars were the same under the skin as the LTD and Continental, and they weren’t bad drivers (by the standards of the time).
07 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOpera lights! Trivia question: what was the last year for factory-installed opera lights on an American car? I’m guessing this feature made it well into the 21st century.
06 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one’s a little rough, though it’s a completely rust-free California car.
17 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSo much trim. So much vinyl.
14 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou see a lot of police-organization and AAA-related stickers on these cars, which is not surprising given the elderly demographic that preferred them.
03 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSteering-wheel cruise-control buttons showed a lot of faith in Ford’s ability to make a clockspring and/or sliding electrical contacts work.
10 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFord (and Chrysler) loved these fake vents in the early 1980s. Why?

Created by science!

01 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Piston Slap: Front Row Seating for Milanese Discomfort? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/piston-slap-front-row-seating-for-milanese-discomfort/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/piston-slap-front-row-seating-for-milanese-discomfort/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 11:05:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=850074 TTAC Commentator BigOlds writes: Hi Sajeev, I have a bit of an odd one, I suspect: I currently drive a fullsize pickup, but I may be taking a new job, trading my 38 mile country drive for a 38 mile drive into the city, complete with undersized garage parking. The truck will severely limit the […]

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TTAC Commentator BigOlds writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I have a bit of an odd one, I suspect: I currently drive a fullsize pickup, but I may be taking a new job, trading my 38 mile country drive for a 38 mile drive into the city, complete with undersized garage parking. The truck will severely limit the number of acceptable spaces, and generally be a pain in there. My solution is to take over the wife’s 2008 Milan (which has been truly flawless for 75,000 miles) and buy her something else. Naturally she’s thrilled with the idea, and this piles the tough commute onto something that is well this side of new. Win-win, right?

Well, the issue is that I can NOT get comfortable driving that car. My wife adores it, and as a passenger I am fine, but when I drive I feel like the seat isn’t deep enough, or maybe not tall enough, and the backs of my thighs get extremely uncomfortable. I don’t know if this is the lateral support reviewers always talk about, but it becomes unpleasant very quickly. I have tried adjusting the seat every which way, but to take another stab at explaining it, it’s like my knees are higher than my butt, so all the weight shifts to the back of my thighs, and the seat won’t go high enough off the floor to bring my thighs level.

Anyway, since the fiscally prudent thing is for me to drive this car, I would like a way to solve this issue. Otherwise, I will probably leave the Milan with my wife and find myself the cheapest commuter car I can.

Thanks
BigOlds

Sajeev answers:

Oh my damn, Son! You done hit one of my hot buttons!

Thigh support became a thing for me back in ’03: when I drove my Mark VIII from Houston to Atlanta with almost no discomfort.  After that I was cognizant of my legs’ warning signs in many an auto show vehicle sit-down. A somewhat unfounded generalization?  Sure, so I’m certainly interested in the B&B’s opinion. 

Damn near every auto manufacturer was guilty of half-assed design at the beginning of the current millennium. And thigh support certainly took a back seat (get it?): everything from C5 Corvettes to Town Cars (but not other Panthers), the Mercedes E-class (not AMG) to the Camry sported shorter seats, thinner pads and much less support. All of which drove my right hip and both knees into spasms of discomfort.  The only brands I remember giving a free pass were Volvo, Saab and BMW.

What’s your solution? Get another car, leave the Milan with the wife. There’s no way you can enjoy the seats.  Adding more padding and/or longer cushions to cradle your thighs (then fitting new seat covers) is beyond foolish.  Swapping seats with another Ford is doable, except the seat mounts/tracks and airbag wiring could be a nightmare.  I wouldn’t even try those messaging wooden seat beads (the ones that Cab drivers supposedly rave about).

Whatever you buy, make sure you drive it for an afternoon before you pull the trigger. And never fear, as there are plenty of new cars with better seats: even the dirt cheap ones.  And, after spending a week with the new Fusion, there’s no doubt Ford fixed that seat too.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: The S5’s life saving Mercury? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/piston-slap-the-s5s-life-saving-mercury/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/piston-slap-the-s5s-life-saving-mercury/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 12:26:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=832730 Chris writes: Hi Sajeev, I have a 2010 Audi S5 with about 45k miles. My local mechanic recommended Mercury Warranty for mechanical breakdown coverage… is $4,700 a good deal for 5 years, or an additional 52k mileage in coverage? I’m worried that it would be easy to add up to that $ in repairs. Sajeev […]

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Chris writes:

Hi Sajeev,
I have a 2010 Audi S5 with about 45k miles. My local mechanic recommended Mercury Warranty for mechanical breakdown coverage… is $4,700 a good deal for 5 years, or an additional 52k mileage in coverage?

I’m worried that it would be easy to add up to that $ in repairs.

Sajeev asks:

Needing the warranty is a safe bet, good for you. Question is, can you service the S5 at the Audi dealer with that warranty? What’s the deductible? Are loaner cars covered?

Chris answers:

Yes, loaner cars are covered and I can have it serviced anywhere that I want. $100 deductible. It’s their platinum level exclusionary policy…

Sajeev concludes:

Yeah, that’s good stuff: but shop around because someone might sell it for less. So what’s the only problem here? It’s not a factory warranty, with factory customer service.

Will this company dump your AWD high performance coupe after a certain payout threshold? It is possible. But, from what I’ve seen with people far braver than I, the moment your 4+ year old German bahnburner raises the ire of the underwriting department is after the warranty paid for itself.

Perhaps asking an Audi dealer about the chance of an extended warranty is also in order.

And now let’s see what the Best and Brightest add into the mix!

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Question Of The Day : What If You Could Resurrect A Dying Or Dead Brand? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/question-of-the-day-what-if-you-could-resurrect-a-dying-or-dead-brand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/question-of-the-day-what-if-you-could-resurrect-a-dying-or-dead-brand/#comments Tue, 06 May 2014 16:21:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=816065 I made my first small fortune in this business selling old Volvos. I started way back in the mid-2000‘s when I got downright militant about outbidding anyone on an older rear-wheel drive Volvo. In one year, 2007 to be exact, I managed to buy at least one Volvo every year from 1983 all the way […]

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oldvolvo

I made my first small fortune in this business selling old Volvos.

I started way back in the mid-2000‘s when I got downright militant about outbidding anyone on an older rear-wheel drive Volvo. In one year, 2007 to be exact, I managed to buy at least one Volvo every year from 1983 all the way to 2004.

I loved the Volvo brand as their rear wheel drive cars represented the perfect mix of comfort, safety and functionality. The discontinued 240, 740 and 940 were insanely easy to sell and cheap to buy; especially the wagons.

These Volvos usually had a history of conservative owners who took their cars to the dealership or Volvo specialized shops for service. Repairs were easy and reasonable thanks to long model runs and parts that were as common as kudzu at any Georgia junkyard.

The used car side of the Volvo brand represented a big fat target where young families, hipsters, Camry-oriented shoppers, and the still common Brick enthusiast could all find a Volvo worth keeping. I followed that tune of demand and soon became a daily reader at Brickboard, Swedespeed, and several other well known sites for Volvo aficionados. I was hooked.

Then I became unhooked.

The seeds of Volvo’s destruction started out as an opportunity for me. Owners began to trade in Volvo S70’s and V70’s from 99′ upwards due to a malfunctioning electronic throttle module. At the sales I would see these vehicles being sold AS/IS, buy them ridiculously cheap, and then take them to the Volvo dealer to get their software upgrade. Eventually Volvo did the right thing by extending the coverage to 10 years and 200,000 miles. However, as Volvos began to develop other issues such as lifetime fluids that weren’t so, and parts failures that were as cheaply made as they were expensive to fix at the dealerships, the marketability of these vehicles nosedived to the point of near irrelevance.

The Volvo S40 was a world-class blunder. The Volvo S60 and S80 were left to rot on the vine of Ford’s neglect along with the V70 and C70. The Volvo XC90 may have represented the brand’s only solid hit for the entire decade as the MBA marketeers at the Premier Automotive Group decided to make Volvo into a downright ridiculous alternative to BMW.

Volvo wasn’t alone in the quixotic pursuit for a more ‘upscale’ brand identity. Oldsmobile was positioned as an import fighter. Mercury tried to become a premium brand as well, and marketed heavily towards women, while Lincoln redefined American luxury in a way that no one outside of Dearborn could quite understand.

The list of failed brands stretches long since the Y2K era. Plymouth. Isuzu. Saturn. Hummer. As proof of their deadness in the retail marketplace, most independent dealerships that specialize in financing won’t even buy these brands… along with Volvo, Mercury and Lincoln.

You can’t sell a dead brand, unless you were maybe a successful overseas manufacturer trying to crack the American market. Or maybe the CEO of Ford or GM. Let’s assume that the perfect world exists. A place where you could choose your brand and launch your products without worrying about money. Consider yourself old GM, a newbie at Tesla, whatever you like.

What brand would you choose to resurrect?

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Piston Slap: You’ve Got to be All Mine…Foxy Lady! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-youve-got-to-be-all-mine-foxy-lady/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-youve-got-to-be-all-mine-foxy-lady/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 11:50:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=784545   TTAC Commentator Thunderjet writes: Hello Sajeev, Last year I picked up a ’91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC for $800. It’s in decent shape for being a Chicago area car and having 153K on the clock. The body has no major rust issues except for the front fenders, which have rust holes due to the […]

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Mark VII

TTAC Commentator Thunderjet writes:

Hello Sajeev,

Last year I picked up a ’91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC for $800. It’s in decent shape for being a Chicago area car and having 153K on the clock. The body has no major rust issues except for the front fenders, which have rust holes due to the sunroof drains, so the car will eventually need new fenders. The under body and frame are rust free and very clean. The car sat for several years before I purchased it and over the last year I have put about $500 into the car replacing various wear/tune up items (water pump, hoses, belt, cap, rotor, plug wires, spark plugs, and the starter). The car runs well and I’ve always wanted one, being that I have been a Fox Body nut since I started driving.

I would like to keep the car as I enjoy driving it. My daily driver is a 2011 Ford Focus SE bought new. It currently has about 28K on it and I’m hoping to keep it another 10 years or more. The Mark VII needs several things to make it more presentable including a paint job and the replacement of some of the leather panels on the front seats. In addition I would like to replace some wear items on the car such as the air springs so I won’t have to worry about failure in the future. I can do the repairs as time/budget allow and probably get a pretty nice car in the end.

??????????

The issue I’m having a problem with is that I already have a fun car that I tinker with: a 1988 Ford Thunderbird LX. It’s a factory 5.0 car with Edelbrock aluminum heads, a GT40 intake, .533 lift Comp roller cam, AOD with 2800 stall converter, and a 3:73 Traction-Lok differential. It’s a fun car and it’s the first car I ever bought. It’s not going away as the improvements I’ve made to the Thunderbird in the last 12 years I’ve owned the car make it too fun to part with. Also being my first car the Thunderbird is special to me.

I’m wondering if it makes sense for me to have two project/fun cars or if it’s overkill? A little background on me: I’m in my late 20’s and I’ll be getting married later this year. My fiancé doesn’t mind cars and in fact likes them as her daily driver is a 2012 Mustang V6 in Grabber Blue. I own my own house outright and I only have two sources of debt: about $15K I’m paying off in student loans for my master’s degree and the other two years on the loan for my Focus. I bought a new car as a daily driver as the dealer offered me 0% for 60 months. Who am I to say no to free money from Ford Credit? I am saving for retirement and put 15% of my yearly salary towards that. I make in the mid to upper five figures so I’m not poor but I’m not rich. As of right now having the Mark VII is only costing me about $300 a year in insurance. Does it make sense for a late 20 something to have two fun cars or should I ditch the Mark VII and just keep the Thunderbird?

Sajeev answers:

Before I go completely bonkers over a Fox Body question, a question back: do you have adequate parking for everyone’s cars???

Thunderjet writes:

The parking situation is good with the extra fox. The Thunderbird and my fiance’s Mustang reside in the garage while the Focus sits in the driveway. I usually keep the Mark in the driveway as well but if weather is bad my parents have let me drop it off at their house. They have space in their garage they are not using.

I should also note that I purchased the AOD floor shifter from your 1988 Cougar XR-7 on foxtbirdcougarforums several years ago. I think you sold it to me for ten bucks. I still have it if I ever get the desire to remove the column shifter from my Thunderbird. And yes the graphic EQ in my Thunderbird still works. It’s wired through a JVC head unit and the factory amp.

Sajeev answers:

Since normal people won’t understand this graphic EQ hack, a photo from my Cougar to clarify:

Not only is the Fox one of the most customizable vehicles on the planet, the truly insane among us convert the Ford EQ’s wiring into RCA connections; making it work with any aftermarket stereo. And it sounds kinda great, too!

What a small world it is: you knew me back when I was a Fox UBB forum fiend!  Times change, but multiple housebound projects are doable for these reasons:

  1. Your intelligent and enviable debt-to-equity ratio.
  2. Ownership of a new vehicle as a daily driver.
  3. Enough space at your residence for cars, without pissing off your significant other.
  4. Intimate knowledge of the vehicles in question, with a great track record for success.
  5. Readily available parts and low-cost of ownership inherent in Fox Body (resto?) modification.
  6. A strong internet community to help you when needed. And a sympathetic resto-mod Cougar owning schmuck on TTAC too, if that helps.

You are one lucky duck. How do I know? This is kinda how I co-exist with my old Fords. BAM SON!

A final note: since you showed me yours, here’s mine. Getting rid of my shifter opened up room in the Cougar for a manual gearbox. Thanks for that. And best of luck with the LSC, I am jealous.

photo

I really, really want an cherry 88-89 LSC, just not with Porno Red leather. One of these Foxes is enough.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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Piston Slap: A Tribute to the Mariner’s idle Escape? (PART II) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-a-tribute-to-the-mariners-idle-escape-part-ii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-a-tribute-to-the-mariners-idle-escape-part-ii/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 12:28:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=778665 We had two updates to a previous Piston Slap this weekend, surprisingly within two hours of each other.  Let’s hear from the OP first: TTAC Commentator sundvl76 writes: Sajeev, reporting back: You may be interested in this, if for no other reason than to add to your diagnostic toolbox; my experience certainly can’t be unique: […]

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Capture

We had two updates to a previous Piston Slap this weekend, surprisingly within two hours of each other.  Let’s hear from the OP first:

TTAC Commentator sundvl76 writes:

Sajeev, reporting back:

You may be interested in this, if for no other reason than to add to your diagnostic toolbox; my experience certainly can’t be unique: Several comments below your post also suggested the motor mount(s) as the problem. I more recently discussed this with a professional wrench acquaintance, who also said that the mounts can be expected to go south after ~80K miles; he suggested using a padded floor jack to lift slightly on the engine during a time when I detected the “rough” idle (the oil pan on this vehicle, and maybe all Duratec engines, is waffled cast aluminum). Bingo! The vibration ceased when I did that.

I have now changed the large mount on the passenger side of the engine compartment, and can report that the vibration is no longer present. But, there is a bonus prize to this story: for the last 25 – 30K miles, I’ve been also chasing a creaking noise which occurred – again more prominently during cold weather than hot – at any acceleration from a stop sign/light. I would have bet serious money that it was coming from the rear suspension, and in fact went so far as to replace 3 of the 4 control arms in the rear (they’re fairly cheap and easy to replace), with no success. Replaced the motor mount::creaking noise vanished like magic!

This vehicle is nothing great by any means – wife drives it 80% of the time and it suits her needs – and I don’t care that much for it, but these nagging issues really made me start to think about dumping it. Whole new attitude now – it will stay around for a while yet! Thanks for your help and thanks for reading this. I enjoy your posts greatly.

Sajeev answers:

Excellent!  Nice to see my initial armchair diagnosis was on the money. All it takes is a fractional difference in mount height from new to cause this problem. Maybe a millimeter, maybe less! No way can you eyeball this and know for sure.

I am totally diggin’ the padded floor jack on the oil pan trick.  Perhaps the pan needs reinforcement to work here, not just the old school sheet metal affairs. But perhaps all it takes is a little lift at one corner (i.e. not the big flat part of the pan) to prove the bad idle is indeed an engine mount vibration. Or put a long board on the jack so the weight is spread across the entire pan, from corner to corner.

No matter, glad to see you are now enjoying your ride much more.  It’s hard not to love it after getting your hands, arms, legs and even your mind “dirty” in a successful diagnosis of a seemingly impossible problem!

Then Rene writes:

Sajeev:

Greetings! I enjoy your fine column and blog very much. Keep up the fine work! With regard to the poor idle that your reader was looking for help with on his 2005 Mariner, I thought I would chime in after much experience with the Ford/Mazda Duratec family of V-6’s, particularly the 2001-2007 Tributes and Escapes. In addition, a 2003 Tribute with 199,000 miles is my daily driver. I have found that the V-6 idle issue, after all the usual culprits have been considered and/or remedied without result, could be these two things—a failed DPFE sensor, or the intake seals are cooked.

These V6 engines have a manifold on top which is bolted to a plenum riser, which in turn is bolted to the engine. There are six seals where each component meets the other, and as one might expect, after 100K the six seals between the plenum and the engine have grown crispy from age and heat (in far worse condition than the six plenum to manifold seals, which might still appear pliable). The lower seals harden and begin to suck air in, and this condition reveals itself the most noticeably by a poor idle and a drop in fuel mileage. I have had excellent results by replacing all the intake seals (a complete intake gasket set is required) as well as all of the smaller vacuum hoses, cleaning the MAF sensor (using MAF sensor cleaner, not carb cleaner) and air flow meter; in most cases, showroom floor idle is restored.

These engines also seem to favor Motorcraft platinum spark plugs; I’ve tried other plugs in a pinch or on sale, but the Motorcrafts produce the smoothest idle and best fuel mileage for me. Of course, if the DPFE sensor hasn’t ever been changed, it’s a good idea. This component is also exposed to a great deal of operating heat. Mine clocked 140,000 miles before it failed, but I’ve seen them go earlier….and later. You never know with those. Finally, my last fleeting thought on the subject: two half inch vacuum tubes tee from the large air intake hose (just after the MAF sensor housing) and each one plugs into a grommet in the rear of each valve cover. These grommets deteriorate from heat and contact with oil and fail with time, resulting in a vacuum leak that starts slowly but soon gets worse. These should also be checked and replaced if they are soft and gummy.

I hope that this info helps someone.

Sajeev concludes:

Thank you for writing! I thought a failed DPFE throw a check engine light (CEL)…as that’s my expereince in my ’95 Mark VIII. And boy, was that a fun sensor to replace on the MN-12 chassis! But I digress…

Rene’s great assessment of the Duratec V6s is something every long-term car owner must consider:  dried up gaskets and rubber vacuum lines that either go brittle or gummy.  And not just the usual suspects you see with a quick look under the hood, there could be gaskets you wouldn’t even consider unless you have the proper service manual and/or information from your model specific forum.  And if you own one of the millions of DOHC V6s shoehorned in a wrong wheel drive platform, well, I promise you that your eyeballs can’t find all the hidden gaskets and rubber bits.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: A Tribute to the Mariner’s idle Escape? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-a-tribute-to-the-mariners-idle-escape/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-a-tribute-to-the-mariners-idle-escape/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 13:16:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=761745 TTAC Commentator sundvl76 writes: Sajeev, Your post of 2 Mar 2011 was a great explanation regarding the cause of the “T” joint oil leak I’ve been experiencing. No one on any of the normal Ford sites has been able to pinpoint the problem, so I thank you for the information. (I’d discovered the source, but […]

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TTAC Commentator sundvl76 writes:

Sajeev,

Your post of 2 Mar 2011 was a great explanation regarding the cause of the “T” joint oil leak I’ve been experiencing. No one on any of the normal Ford sites has been able to pinpoint the problem, so I thank you for the information. (I’d discovered the source, but didn’t know the cause/fix until your post.) TTAC is now on my Favorites list!

So, I am hoping you might also be able to shed some light on the reason for the poor-quality idle I’m experiencing with the same engine. This does not seem to be a mis-fire, but more of a resonant vibration typical of an engine slightly out of time, and/or at the incorrect idle speed. It occurs primarily in colder weather (below 50F) and does improve once the engine is warmed – IF the ambient temp is above about 40F. When ambient is below that point, the strong vibrations do not disappear. Of course it is most pronounced in Drive/Reverse but noticeable in Park/Neutral as well. Manually increasing the idle speed slightly using the throttle does help. In warm weather the idle may be rough upon first start but improves pretty quickly.

I’ve investigated thoroughly (w/ propane) for a vacuum leak, cleaned the Mass Air Sensor and TB, and have replaced the IAC valve and spark plugs, with no improvement. There are no codes in storage to guide me to the solution, and I’m now thinking the MAS itself may be faulty but am not sure how to test it.

Have you seen this problem with other vehicles?

The vehicle in question is a 2005 Mariner with 114K miles.

Sajeev answers:

Thank you for your note, and Behold The Power of The Internet!!!

I often suspect the hydraulic filled engine mounts in these cases. A similar question was posted recently, and our commentators had suggestions you should consider. So have a read there, too.

sundvl76 replies:

Sajeev,

Thanks for the link; read it all.

To add info to my question:

Engine mounts was one suggestion I’d found on another forum, and I’ve visually inspected them for leakage and also verified the engine does not move (power applied/brake on). Not saying it is impossible, but the symptoms are not the same as the Audi owner’s in the post.

Chevron or Exxon used 90% of the time, Shell occasionally. I also recall that when this first started (2 winters ago), I did an injector cleaning with the BBK kit, but no change in behavior was detected.

A small vacuum leak was also suggested – one which seals up when the engine is warm. Possible, but not sure how that matches up with my experience of the poor idle being dependent on ambient temps; the engine block should still eventually reach the same temp regardless of ambient. Incidentally, I’m in TX, so “cold ambient” is relative. . .

Thanks, I’ll keep watch on Piston Slap for further info.

Sajeev concludes:

If the engine mounts look that fantastic when running or not, consider the totally not impossible chance of clogged EGR passages.  I worked on a 1996 Sable LS (Duratec) that was EGR code free, but the uber-plenty EGR coking was a possible cause to its bad idle.  And while your Duratec V6 is significantly different from a UR-Duratec Sable, my EGR de-coking, fresh vacuum lines, a tune up (which you did) certainly cured the Sable.

And if those fail, perhaps you still need new mounts: perfection to your eyeballs doesn’t mean they are just out of spec enough to cause the funny idle.

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: Escort Wagon Spelunking? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-escort-wagon-spelunking/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-escort-wagon-spelunking/#comments Tue, 04 Mar 2014 12:46:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=761673 TTAC Commentator Modestholdings writes: Best from the West, young man, The Boss has a pretty nice ’94 Escort LX wagon sourced by yours truly, and it happens to have found the sweet spot betwixt my picking it and her loving it. A grand for this one-owner handshaker and she’s managed to put about 23K on […]

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TTAC Commentator Modestholdings writes:

Best from the West, young man,

The Boss has a pretty nice ’94 Escort LX wagon sourced by yours truly, and it happens to have found the sweet spot betwixt my picking it and her loving it. A grand for this one-owner handshaker and she’s managed to put about 23K on it in the last year — points of interest are far and few between here in Wyoming.

At 140,000 I figured it would be good prophylaxis to go ahead and do that timing belt (1.9 four-potter) after what was eventually determined to be the tensioner began yapping.

New clutch at buy, pretty new shoes and a windshield are our investments beyond regular upkeep. (When it rains, it hails.) Some forum s̶k̶u̶l̶d̶u̶g̶g̶e̶r̶y̶ ̶ spelunking has turned up the possibility of new valve seats as the next major preventative maintenance. My question for you, the B&B, et al, is whether that makes sense, or drive it until it pops (er, drops) and then plop a junkyard mill in? The current motivator is pretty tight for being good to vote and everything, and I’d like to keep the Green Machine rolling at least until she’s old enough to buy me beer.

Sajeev answers:

Yes, new valve seats could be in your future.  Or her future.  Or the Escort’s future.  Whatever…

The questions presented here are when and how to replace it: wait until it drops and sell the Escort?  Wait and replace with a junkyard motor?  Replace the valve seats now, either by yourself (if you are that awesome) or with a rebuilt head swap?

As I get earn more gray hair on my dome and less flexibility in my joints in cold weather, my answer goes to the path of least resistance:  the somewhat stress free and kinda cheap path.  So don’t wait for the entire motor to grenade, as that (probably) ruins both the cylinder head and the block.  Junkyard motors are 3-4 times more than a rebuilt head, and do you believe the valve “fix” was applied to whatever you buy? Or will it fail again, probably after the junkyard warranty expires?

Ignorance isn’t bliss, nor is an in-n-out motor swap.  Time to find the answer in the shades of gray.

The smarter move is a few hundred spent at a place like this, or something similar on eBay. In the 1.9L Escort’s case, a rebuilt cylinder head fixes the bad component and a fresh set of gaskets/fluids with someone smart enough to swap it all around is needed.  And if you must pay for the labor, it’s still a smarter long-term position than replacing the entire motor.

A possible final question: is it stupid to want to fix the problem before it actually is a problem?

When the problem can hurt the entire engine and replacement engines may be no better, the answer is absolutely yes.

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Crapwagon Outtake: Propane And Propane Accessories http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/crapwagon-outtake-propane-and-propane-accessories/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/crapwagon-outtake-propane-and-propane-accessories/#comments Sat, 29 Jun 2013 12:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=493604 One of the consequences of Canada’s high gas prices is the prevalence of propane conversions. In the Greater Toronto Area, a fair number of vehicles, typically in fleet use as taxi cabs, airport limos or construction vehicles, get converter to run on propane gas. The conversions are expensive, running approximately $5,000, and if you want […]

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$T2eC16h,!)8E9s4l90QlBRyqw3vG3w~~48_20

One of the consequences of Canada’s high gas prices is the prevalence of propane conversions. In the Greater Toronto Area, a fair number of vehicles, typically in fleet use as taxi cabs, airport limos or construction vehicles, get converter to run on propane gas. The conversions are expensive, running approximately $5,000, and if you want to see any return on your investment, you better run the car well into the six-figure range of the odometer.

On the other hand, these cars make some great used car buys. With the conversion already done, you get all of the benefit of filling up for approximately $2.50 per gallon, and the vehicles are typically robust, hard wearing cars like Ford Panthers, full-size pickups and W-Body GM cars.

Amid the million kilometer Town Cars and Caravans (ex airport taxis, no doubt) there is a diamond in the rough. A beige one. For $1,800, there’s a 2000 Grand Marquis with 487,000 km. I’m one of the few dissenters when it comes to Panther Love on this site, but the price is right – both for the car, and for the sub-$50 fillups. Not that I’m considering it or anything. It’s for a friend…

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The Encyclopedia of Obscure Concept and Show Cars: Part Three – Honda to Mercury http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/the-encyclopedia-of-obscure-concept-and-show-cars-part-three-honda-to-mercury/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/the-encyclopedia-of-obscure-concept-and-show-cars-part-three-honda-to-mercury/#comments Wed, 17 Apr 2013 12:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=484783 Continuing with our look at long forgotten (and some not so long forgotten, but forgotten just the same) concept and show cars from the major automobile manufacturers. Part One, Acura to Chevrolet, is here. Part two, Chrysler to Ford, is here. Sure, once you see it, the Honda SSM (Sports Study Model), first shown at the Tokyo […]

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Continuing with our look at long forgotten (and some not so long forgotten, but forgotten just the same) concept and show cars from the major automobile manufacturers. Part One, Acura to Chevrolet, is herePart two, Chrysler to Ford, is here.

Sure, once you see it, the Honda SSM (Sports Study Model), first shown at the Tokyo show in 1995 and styled by Pininfarina, was obviously the concept for what became the S2000 roadster. The question is do S2000 fans even remember the SSM?

InfinitiTriantConcept@2003Web22Try and see if you can recall the Infiniti Triant from 2003.

JeepJeepsterConcept@1998Web22Chrysler recycled the Jeepster name for this 1998 concept, which you may actually remember.

JeepsterToysQuite a number of die cast model companies and brands, including MaistoHot WheelsMatchbox,  and Tonka have produced toys and models of the Jeepster. If you’re a member of Generation Y, you may just remember the Jeepster.

JeepVarsityConcept@2000Web33Along with the Jeepster, the Varsity concept from 2000 made Hooniverse’s list of Jeep’s top 25 concept vehicles (not included on the list were the very cool Mighty FC cabover “forward control” truck and the JC-12 pickup concepts from last year). Jeep does indeed have a history of cool concepts, but I wouldn’t call the Varsity as memorable as the twin Hemi powered Hurricane that could turn on its own axis.

41914-500-0I don’t know if the 1969 Jeep XJ-001 concept is what convinced American Motors to buy Jeep from Kaiser the following year, or not. Jeep had been buying AMC engines for a while and when they decided to build their own version of a muscle car, with a custom fiberglass body on a CJ-5 chassis, they dropped in an AMC 360 cubic inch V8.

jeep_concepts_1969_wallpapers_1The XJ-001 is actually notable in Jeep history as it introduced one of the earliest full-time four wheel drive systems, which they called “Quadritrac”. That would morph into Quadra Trac when the system was first offered for sale in 1973.

KaiserSafari@1951CASI can’t imagine where ever Kaiser got the idea to name this 1951 concept the “Safari”. Seriously though, I’m pretty sure they got the idea to use fur and zebra skins from the Cadillac Debutante the year before. The car companies were lucky there was no PETA then.

Lincoln_MacheteWhen I saw this photo of this Lincoln concept from 1988, I said, “what a cool car”. Lincoln has a history of making concept cars that, years later, enthusiasts say, “now that’s a car that Lincoln should have made”.

LincolnMachete@1988Web22Then I saw what they named it. In what alternate universe is the brand Lincoln associated with the word machete? If it had gone into production, would they have gotten Danny Trejo to do their ads?

MercedesBenz_F300LifeJet@1998Web22Now that Morgan has brought back the Three Wheeler, with the blessings of Baruth, and Polaris is about to introduce the Slingshot reverse trike, perhaps Mercedes-Benz should put the F300 Life Jet leanable trike concept from 1998 into production. I wonder if they paid any royalties to Fritz Fend‘s family.

Concept Cars - Mercury MC4The Mercury brand had some exciting show cars. Perhaps if some of them had gone into production, the brand might still be here with us today. The MC4 concept was based on a 1996 Thunderbird (Sajeev take note). The car’s designer, the late John Hartnell, gave it both suicide doors and de Tomaso Mangusta style rear center-opening hatches (with integral taillights). That combination alone should have made it a memorable concept car but memory can be fickle.

srill_sw_s16_1130353456_97mercury_mc4_2When Ford sold off some of their corporate collection of concept cars in 2002 to raise money for charity and celebrate FoMoCo’s centennial, the pre-sale estimate on the MC4 was $60,000-$120,000 with no reserve. It was hammered off at $645,500, the second highest sale price at that auction You may not remember it, but someone sure did. I bet his wife remembers the auction too.

MercuryMessenger@2003Web33The Mercury Messenger wowed the critics in 2003, so it’s not really that obscure, but does anyone think that Mercury dealers would have known what to do with a sporty two seater? It was supposed to be Mercury’s new brand look, which lasted until the Messenger was retired from the show circuit.

A great looking car but is there anything about it that says “Mercury”? Part of the problem is the name. Who calls a two seat sports coupe with a V8 engine the Messenger? For gosh sakes, this was a company that made cars called the Eliminator and the Marauder. Lincoln shows a Machete and Mercury shows a Messenger? Boy, Ford really got its brands messed up before Mulally turned things around. Besides, the Messenger was based on the Mustang, they should have called it the Cougar.

MercuryMystiqueConcept@91Web22Less memorable was the Mercury Mystique, another suppository shaped minivan.

MercuryOneConcept done with mazda@1989Web223Before there was Ford One, there was the Mercury One, a joint project of Mazda and Mercury.

MercuryPalomarRear@62Web22Somehow the name Mercury Palomar isn’t quite right. I know there’s an observatory on Mount Palomar and Mercury is indeed an astronomical body, but the car brand is named after the god, not the planet, so you end up with a car that’s actually named after a god and a mountain, not a planet and and observatory as the marketers guessed. The inspiration for the Palomar’s name was obviously the retractable roof, just like an observatory has. The inspiration for the roof itself was possibly from South Bend, not outer space. Well, sort of. In 1959, Brooks Stevens, who would later design the similarly featured Wagonaire and other Studebakers, designed three concepts cars called the Scimitar for the Olin Matheson Chemical Corp. to demonstrate the functional and decorative use of aluminum. One of the Scimitars was a station wagon with a retractable roof that let you carry tall items. The retractable roofed wagon is one of those ideas that pops up from time to time on concept and production vehicles most recently with the 2004 GMC Envoy XUV.

Continued in part 4 tomorrow, Mitsubishi to Plymouth.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks – RJS

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Monday Mileage Midget: Vecchio Combustible Paradisio! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/monday-mileage-midget-vecchio-combustible-paradisio/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/monday-mileage-midget-vecchio-combustible-paradisio/#comments Mon, 25 Feb 2013 13:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=478880 Today’s edition of Monday Mileage Midget is brought to you by the state of Florida. Palm trees. Retirement communities. Traffic signals and double yellow lines that are treated as mere suggestions. Florida has become an economic juggernaut thanks in large part to cheap housing, plenty of sunshine, and legal loopholes that allow well deserving retirees […]

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Today’s edition of Monday Mileage Midget is brought to you by the state of Florida.

Palm trees. Retirement communities. Traffic signals and double yellow lines that are treated as mere suggestions. Florida has become an economic juggernaut thanks in large part to cheap housing, plenty of sunshine, and legal loopholes that allow well deserving retirees and unethical douchebags to live on the cheap.

There is one other unusual reality benefit of living in Florida… low mileage cars.

 

Here we have a 2008 Mercury Grand Marquis GS with only 3,289 miles.

I love the interior on this one. It just screams out, “Road trip!” with those large cupholders and the virtually untouched seats.

And here we have a 2001 Mercury Grand Marquis GS with only 10,702 miles. Pardon the sun glint but I’m not the one taking these pictures.

Finally, if you are willing to go a bit beyond the usual automotive blue plate specials, there is…

A 2005 Honda Pilot EX with AWD and 15k miles.

A loaded up for 1994, Ford Ranger STX. ABS, Cruise, 5-Speed, Ice Cold Air, AM/FM Radio with the all too essential cassette deck and alloy wheels. A ride that may have cost less out the door in 2009 than it did back in 1994. This one has 22,375 original miles.

Finally, if you find yourself owning a lifetime supply of Grey Poupon and houndstooth sportcoats, you can buy yourself one of these.

A 1997 Bentley Brooklands. Gorgeous. 30,021 miles. Need I say more?

Well, if I must. This may have been one of the last old school designs that you could get before bulbous bling started to take over. The difference between the Bentley Brooklands of 1997…

and the Bentley Brooklands of 2008

is a classic representation of how elegance in automotive design gave way to gaudiness. The most recent generations of the Grand Marquis and the Pilot represent much of the same. Well earned prestige, that ended up completely subverted by those who thought the protruding plasticidity of Escalades and fingernail thin chrome treatments would be the way of the future.

Mark my words. The 1997 Brooklands will be a classic for all the right reasons. The 2008 model won’t be nearly as well received when it comes time for tomorrow’s classic car shows. It may be a hot auction commodity by then. But only because they sold so few of them.

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Junkyard Find: 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis LS Safety Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/junkyard-find-1997-mercury-grand-marquis-ls-safety-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/junkyard-find-1997-mercury-grand-marquis-ls-safety-edition/#comments Thu, 03 Jan 2013 14:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=472236 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 […]

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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.

01 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Super Piston Slap: Holiday Purchase = Holiday Project? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/super-piston-slap-holiday-purchase-holiday-project/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/super-piston-slap-holiday-purchase-holiday-project/#comments Sat, 29 Dec 2012 15:08:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=471881 Sajeev writes: The holidays, no matter your religion (or lack thereof), is a time when many a car freak has the downtime to think of something they’d really want.  Another car?  Maybe.  More cars?  Possibly.  But I suspect many a Piston Slap reader is all about doing something to their car over the break. Here’s […]

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Sajeev writes:

The holidays, no matter your religion (or lack thereof), is a time when many a car freak has the downtime to think of something they’d really want.  Another car?  Maybe.  More cars?  Possibly.  But I suspect many a Piston Slap reader is all about doing something to their car over the break. Here’s one of my projects: the Talking Lincoln Mark VIII, or MK-T for short. 

As a somewhat newly-minted homeowner I’m doing less house chores, getting back to my brand of idiotic brilliantly obscure modifications.  My Cougar is full of them, one is here, now it’s time to do the same to my Mark VIII: replace the outdated/bricked HomeLink receiver in my sun visor with something newer (rolling code) and cooler. I knew of the newer part (voice recorder, from a 1999 Mercury Mountaineer) for years, but didn’t know they came in charcoal…OMG SON…until last week.

And there’s the rub: the charcoal Homelink hasn’t arrived yet because I found it on eBay the Friday before Christmas.  Lesson Learned: if you want to tackle a project, don’t fart around with the presents to yourself.  Make sure they arrive well before the holiday. 

Yes, I’m so pumped that I actually printed out the eBay photo to help mock-up the visor. Now let’s wrap up the lonesome rant with the abbreviated procedure to make this happen:

  • Remove sun visor from car.
  • Watch YouTube video, grab screwdrivers and hope for the best.
  • Crack open visor like a clam.
  • Disconnect, remove pointless HomeLink module.
  • Verify factory module’s casing is similar to the one printed out from eBay. Sure enough, it is. Even the new one’s speaker isn’t obstructed inside the visor!
  • Verify wiring harness is the same. It certainly looks that way…PLUG & PLAY, son!
  • Turn into a 4 year old boy, get excited because you are a moron.
  • Hit “Buy It Now.”
  • WAIT FOR SHIPPING!!!  Grrr…
  • Get new one, pop off charcoal trim and separate it from the rubber buttons. Paint it black.  Be okay with half the buttons being charcoal, the alternative (factory tan, factory gray or black paint of dubious durability) isn’t worth it.
  • Consider re-using the bottom of the original’s casing, as it has a provision for a mounting screw. Or not, depending on what happens when it’s installed.
  • Cut visor’s headlining material to allow for the extra buttons of the new part.
  • Install into sun visor and plug-in factory wiring.
  • Connect visor to in-car wiring and see if it works.  Fingers crossed. If it’s bricked, oh well…so was the factory part. And this looks cooler, right?
  • Re-tuck visor’s headlining material, pulled back and messed up by my brilliant actions. Snap the visor “clam” shut again.
  • Reinstall into car and program to the new garage door opener.
  • In His Master’s Voice, consider what mean things to program in the recorder.

And with that, I hope you all will consider tackling an automotive project next Holiday. And share it with us, below.

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Junkyard Find: 1977 Mercury Cougar http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/junkyard-find-1977-mercury-cougar/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/junkyard-find-1977-mercury-cougar/#comments Wed, 17 Oct 2012 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=463944 We make fun of the personal luxury coupe now, just as we make fun of leisure suits, WIN buttons, and Freakies cereal. Still, the rest of the world (except perhaps Australia) never experienced the glory of the huge, inefficient, vaguely sporty coupe with floaty ride and deep-tufted velour interior, and this is their loss. You’re […]

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We make fun of the personal luxury coupe now, just as we make fun of leisure suits, WIN buttons, and Freakies cereal. Still, the rest of the world (except perhaps Australia) never experienced the glory of the huge, inefficient, vaguely sporty coupe with floaty ride and deep-tufted velour interior, and this is their loss.
You’re not going to see this no-apologies shade of green on any car interior made after about 1983, and that’s everybody’s loss.
You don’t want to know the horsepower output of this 351M engine . It will just make all of us feel vaguely depressed (hint: it’s less— a lot less— than the base four-cylinder in the 2013 Camry). The good news is that it churned out sufficient torque to get this 3,800-pound brute moving pretty well.
Ride-Engineered!
This car or the Cordoba?


Chrysler had Ricardo Montalban. Mercury had Cheryl Tiegs.

23 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1977 Mercury Cougar Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Mercury Zephyr http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/junkyard-find-1982-mercury-zephyr/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/junkyard-find-1982-mercury-zephyr/#comments Mon, 24 Sep 2012 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=460996 The super-Malaise-y Granada/Monarch was replaced by the Fox platform-based Fairmont/Zephyr in a process that lasted through the late 1970s and early 1980s (a Fox-based Granada lingered on until 1982). The Fox was like science fiction next to the well-seasoned early-60s chassis that came before, and car buyers who wanted a sporty two-tone coupe went right […]

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The super-Malaise-y Granada/Monarch was replaced by the Fox platform-based Fairmont/Zephyr in a process that lasted through the late 1970s and early 1980s (a Fox-based Granada lingered on until 1982). The Fox was like science fiction next to the well-seasoned early-60s chassis that came before, and car buyers who wanted a sporty two-tone coupe went right to their Lincoln-Mercury dealers to buy Zephyrs like this one.
You’d never know the 1970s had been over for a while after a glance at this tan-and-gold disco cruiser.
The good old Ford 250 inline-six engine— which I just learned came with the official name of “Thriftpower Six”— was a straight early-60s flashback for the purchaser of this Zephyr.
Ford certainly got its money’s worth out of the Fox platform; depending on the strictness of your definition of new-versus-upgraded chassis designs, it was built until either 1994 or 2003.

I couldn’t find any ’82 Zephyr ads, so here’s one for its Fairmont sibling.

15 - 1982 Mercury Zephyr Down On The Junkyard 02 - 1982 Mercury Zephyr Down On The Junkyard 03 - 1982 Mercury Zephyr Down On The Junkyard 04 - 1982 Mercury Zephyr Down On The Junkyard 05 - 1982 Mercury Zephyr Down On The Junkyard 06 - 1982 Mercury Zephyr Down On The Junkyard 07 - 1982 Mercury Zephyr Down On The Junkyard 08 - 1982 Mercury Zephyr Down On The Junkyard 09 - 1982 Mercury Zephyr Down On The Junkyard 10 - 1982 Mercury Zephyr Down On The Junkyard 11 - 1982 Mercury Zephyr Down On The Junkyard 12 - 1982 Mercury Zephyr Down On The Junkyard 13 - 1982 Mercury Zephyr Down On The Junkyard 14 - 1982 Mercury Zephyr Down On The Junkyard Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1976 Capri II aka Mercury Capri aka Ford Capri http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/junkyard-find-1976-capri-ii-aka-mercury-capri-aka-ford-capri/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/junkyard-find-1976-capri-ii-aka-mercury-capri-aka-ford-capri/#comments Fri, 21 Sep 2012 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=460943 Until about the mid-1980s, the German-built Ford Capri was a fairly common site on the American street (well, at least it was a common sight in California, where I grew up). Available in the United States through 1978, the Capri was sold as, simply, “the Capri.” Because Mercury dealers sold the things, the car became […]

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Until about the mid-1980s, the German-built Ford Capri was a fairly common site on the American street (well, at least it was a common sight in California, where I grew up). Available in the United States through 1978, the Capri was sold as, simply, “the Capri.” Because Mercury dealers sold the things, the car became known as the Mercury Capri, and the identification became more confused when the Fox-based Mustang-sibling Mercury Capri came out with Mercury badging. Since that time, really tedious anoraks have jumped down the throats of those who made the mistake of referring to the European Capri as a Mercury, and the rest of us don’t care. The Capri has mostly disappeared, but every once in a while I see a completely thrashed one in a junkyard. Here’s a ’75 that I found a few weeks ago in California.
The ’73 energy crisis had Detroit scrambling to import fuel-sipping machines from their overseas divisions. The West German-built Capri was much more successful for Ford USA than was the “Buick/Opel” was for GM.
The 2.8 liter “Cologne” V6 in this car made 90 horsepower. That doesn’t sound like much for a 2,500-pound car— and it wasn’t much— but standards during the Malaise Era were low.
When I get around to doing Patina Wallpapers to go with the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™ Junkyard and Thrown Rod Wallpapers, I’ll use this shot for sure.

14 - 1975 Ford Capri Down On The Junkyard 01 - 1975 Ford Capri Down On The Junkyard 02 - 1975 Ford Capri Down On The Junkyard 03 - 1975 Ford Capri Down On The Junkyard 04 - 1975 Ford Capri Down On The Junkyard 05 - 1975 Ford Capri Down On The Junkyard 06 - 1975 Ford Capri Down On The Junkyard 07 - 1975 Ford Capri Down On The Junkyard 08 - 1975 Ford Capri Down On The Junkyard 09 - 1975 Ford Capri Down On The Junkyard 10 - 1975 Ford Capri Down On The Junkyard 11 - 1975 Ford Capri Down On The Junkyard 12 - 1975 Ford Capri Down On The Junkyard 13 - 1975 Ford Capri Down On The Junkyard Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Look What I Found! One Family Numbers Matching 1964 Mercury Park Lane Convertible From Ford’s NY World’s Fair Magic Skyway http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/look-what-i-found-one-family-numbers-matching-1964-mercury-park-lane-convertible-from-fords-ny-worlds-fair-magic-skyway/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/look-what-i-found-one-family-numbers-matching-1964-mercury-park-lane-convertible-from-fords-ny-worlds-fair-magic-skyway/#comments Thu, 06 Sep 2012 14:28:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=456579 When I saw this 1964 Mercury Park Lane convertible at the Ford and Mercury Restorers Club meet a few weeks ago, I immediately knew what it was. Actually that’s a fib. I didn’t actually realize exactly what car this was until I saw the informational panel laid out in front of the Merc. Then I […]

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When I saw this 1964 Mercury Park Lane convertible at the Ford and Mercury Restorers Club meet a few weeks ago, I immediately knew what it was. Actually that’s a fib. I didn’t actually realize exactly what car this was until I saw the informational panel laid out in front of the Merc. Then I knew immediately what it was. Earlier this year TTAC ran a post of mine about the car companies’ pavilions at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. The Detroit automakers went all out and Ford, working with Walt Disney’s team, came up with a novel way of exposing fair visitors to Ford and Mercury cars.

The Disney crew came up with what was branded the Magic Skyway. It was a continuous conveyor that carried 134 Ford and Mercury convertibles, plus a dozen of the earliest Mustang convertibles made (the Mustang was first introduced to the public on the day the fair opened, April 17, 1964). Families would hop into a Ford or Mercury and it would carry them past a series of dioramas that showed the ascent of man from the earth’s earliest history to highways in the sky. This ’64 Park Lane was one of those cars. While those early Mustangs are holy grailish for Mustang enthusiasts, this Mercury’s history also makes it a very unique car. Unique as in singular because it’s a “one of one” car in so many ways.

To begin with, it was ordered and built specifically for the ride at the World’s Fair. According to one account, it was the very first of the World’s Fair cars made. It was the only one of the NYWF Mercurys painted in “palamino”. 1964 was also Mercury’s 25th anniversary year so this was a special 25th Anniversary Edition. In addition to being equipped with a 380 CI V8 and an automatic transmission, it was built with every power, luxury and convenience option that Mercury offered on the car.

Click here to view the embedded video.

This exact car was photographed with Henry Ford II, Walt Disney and Robert Moses, the legendary NY politician who ran the fair. I believe that you can see it in this video at ~4:51 (the video’s color is not very good, that might be a red car).

This Park Lane also has unbroken provenance and it’s been owned by one family car new. Well, “new” is open to question because of the tens of thousands of people who rode in it at the Ford pavilion. After it was retired from service on the Magic Skyway when the fair closed, like many cars used for promotional purposes, the Park Lane ended up in Ford’s “B lot”, where employees could buy them as used cars. Adolph “AJ” Jedryczka worked for Ford engineering and bought the car for $2,500. His co-workers thought he was foolish. They joked about him driving a car that had been sat in by thousands of people’s behinds. Jedryczka paid them no heed, he and his wife loved the car. So did their daughter Virginia.

You can see the bracket used to attach the car to the Magic Skyway welded to the rear axle just inboard of the spring shackles.

AJ drove the car to work every day at Building 5 in Ford’s Dearborn engineering center until it was taken out of service in 1970. Six years sounds about right for the usable life of typical car back then. Still, the Jedryczka family knew it was a special car because instead of selling or scrapping it, they parked it in their garage. It still has the original engine, transmission and rear end so it’s a number’s matching car. Actually the rear end is important to establishing the car’s authenticity as it still has the special brackets that were welded to the World’s Fair cars so they could be anchored to the Magic Skyway.

After it was parked, it sat for 40 years. Virginia grew up and got married and two years ago she and her husband started to restore the Park Lane. The restored car had its debut at the Detroit Autorama earlier this year and, as you can see, the family is now displaying it at regional car shows, in one case taking the car back to its old haunts. A few weeks after the Ford & Mercury restorers’ meet, the Park Lane was the hit of a Ford employees’ car show held adjacent to Building 5 in Ford’s Dearborn engineering complex. It looks like there’s a large car show held every fall there in Queens so perhaps the Jedryczkas’ Park Lane will yet again ride in the mean streets of Flushing Meadows.

For more pics, visit Cars In Depth.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

 

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Piston Slap: Putting the HO in your Colony’s 5.0! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/piston-slap-putting-the-ho-in-your-colonys-5-0/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/piston-slap-putting-the-ho-in-your-colonys-5-0/#comments Thu, 06 Sep 2012 12:01:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=458966   Joe writes: Dear Sajeev, It was a mild winter here in Minnesota, so it promises to be an early spring. And with spring comes the promise of new automotive projects. Right now we are in the pre-spring thinking and planning stages. Attached is a photo of my possible project. Some background would be helpful. […]

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Joe writes:

Dear Sajeev,

It was a mild winter here in Minnesota, so it promises to be an early spring. And with spring comes the promise of new automotive projects. Right now we are in the pre-spring thinking and planning stages. Attached is a photo of my possible project. Some background would be helpful.

The car is a 1991 Mercury Colony Park. I purchased it in February of 2002 for the bargain price of $4,500. At the time it had 51,000 pampered miles. It had been rustproofed when new, and sat in a garage during every Minnesota winter. Not a hint of rust anywhere when I bought, and almost none at this time. It was purchased to pull a folding camper trailer. A $4,500 panther was a bargain compared to the cost of an SUV or other “modern” vehicle, and far more eye catching and unique. It ended up doing more than pulling a camper. It has been to Disney World 3 times, was displayed at Ford’s 2003 centennial celebration in Detroit, and has moved 2 kids off to college, along with countless camping trips and miscellaneous chores. As such, it has become a family heirloom and my wife and three daughters will not allow me to sell it.

It has 105,000 miles and remains quite stock except for the Keystone Klassics, some Bilstein shocks, and an aftermarket rear sway bar. Given its unique nature, and the fact that so few remain on the road in this type of exceptional condition, I want to keep the car looking and behaving as stock as possible, with the exception of the wheels and some more power. It needs some help under the hood. The stock 5.0 is what it is. The same basic engine could be found in a Mustang GT producing loads more fun. What would be your suggestion for extracting maximum fun from the basic platform that is here, while preserving the character of this final model year station wagon without spending boat loads of dollars and doing the work as a DIY project?

Despite my day job, I have very good mechanical skills. I have replaced head gaskets on a 3.8 litre 1993 Thunderbird, intakes on a 1996 Thunderbird, have completely refurbished the suspension, exhaust and external mechanicals on a 1979 Mazda RX-7 among many other projects.

It seems to me that a starting point would be cylinder heads and exhaust manifolds. What Mustang GT 5.0 litre bits will bolt onto the base 5.0? What about the engine control modules, something I have zero experience with, and what about transmission shift patterns.

Ultimately, I am looking for something that will never be raced, is not out to impress anyone but myself, but when I slide behind the wheel and put my foot into the throttle, it produces a kick in the backside like a 5.0 has the potential to provide.

Any thoughts on where to begin would be most helpful so that the spring planning session can get off the ground.

Regards,

Joe

Sajeev answers:

Thanks for your entertaining letter, Joe. And sorry for the delay in writing back, such is the way this Piston Slap thing works. But I love the Keystones on the Colony Park!

On the plus side, your query is very quick to answer.  On the minus side, you’re making me feel very, very old.  Because I (patting myself on the back) wrote one of the best 5.0HO (i.e. High Output) swap articles for Panthers.  It didn’t feel like this article is 8 years old until I googled it…and formally present it to you all right here.

The “regular” 5.0 in the Panthers (and my favorite Fox bodies) are pretty sluggish by today’s standards.  Plenty of off-the-line bump, and fuel economy better than most carb’d machines to boot. But converting to a 5.0HO from a 1987-93 Ford Mustang makes these 5.0s somewhat more appealing with no real downside. And, to your point, the HO swap is a period correct upgrade that anyone will appreciate.  So just do it.

When the stock 5.0HO’s 225 horsepower isn’t cutting it, slap on a set of aftermarket aluminum heads (watch for piston to valve clearance) and the biggest 5.0 Whipplecharger kit you can find. It will make your Panther fast enough for damn near anyone.

For the record, I did the 5.0HO swap over ten years ago to the vehicle that’s currently my TTAC avatar: a 1988 Cougar XR-7. It’s still running strong. Ish. But everyone (and I mean everyone) loves the sound of this 5.0HO coming up the street. It will do…until I find a deal on those aforementioned heads and supercharger.  Evil. Grin. ON!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Junkyard Find: 1993 Mercury Capri http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/junkyard-find-1993-mercury-capri/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/junkyard-find-1993-mercury-capri/#comments Fri, 03 Aug 2012 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=455354 After the Miata (introduced in the United States as a 1990 model) turned out to be an instant hit for Mazda, the marketing wizards at Ford decided to put Mercury badges on the Australian Ford Capri, a four-seat sporty convertible, and beat Mazda at its own game. Sure, the ’91-94 Capri was a Mazda under […]

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After the Miata (introduced in the United States as a 1990 model) turned out to be an instant hit for Mazda, the marketing wizards at Ford decided to put Mercury badges on the Australian Ford Capri, a four-seat sporty convertible, and beat Mazda at its own game. Sure, the ’91-94 Capri was a Mazda under the skin (it was based on the 323), and it had front-wheel-drive, but so what?
The Capri was powered by a Mazda B engine, just like the Miata, and it had a convertible top, but the similarities ended there. While the Miata was a perfect expression of everything that the Alfa Romeo Spider and MBG had tried— but failed— to be in the past, the Capri was just a funny-looking 323 with a soft top.
I still see the occasional Capri of this generation on the street, for the same reason I see Geo Metro convertibles on the street: driving with the top down is fun!
The 24 Hours of LeMons has several teams campaigning these things (all turbocharged models), and they’re about as quick around a road course as, say, a Ford Ranger pickup or Kia Sephia. In other words, pretty slow.
This one only managed to get 120,000 miles, which makes me suspect that it spent a few years parked with something expensive broken.

14a - 1993 Mercury Capri Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 01a - 1993 Mercury Capri Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 02a - 1993 Mercury Capri Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 03a - 1993 Mercury Capri Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 04a - 1993 Mercury Capri Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 05a - 1993 Mercury Capri Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 06a - 1993 Mercury Capri Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 07a - 1993 Mercury Capri Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 08a - 1993 Mercury Capri Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 09a - 1993 Mercury Capri Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 10a - 1993 Mercury Capri Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 11a - 1993 Mercury Capri Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 12a - 1993 Mercury Capri Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 13a - 1993 Mercury Capri Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin

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