Junkyard Find: 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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 were the same under the skin as the LTD and Continental, and they weren’t bad drivers (by the standards of the time).

Opera 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.

This one’s a little rough, though it’s a completely rust-free California car.

So much trim. So much vinyl.

You see a lot of police-organization and AAA-related stickers on these cars, which is not surprising given the elderly demographic that preferred them.

Steering-wheel cruise-control buttons showed a lot of faith in Ford’s ability to make a clockspring and/or sliding electrical contacts work.

Ford (and Chrysler) loved these fake vents in the early 1980s. Why?

Created by science!

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Jeff Semenak Jeff Semenak on Aug 02, 2014

    The cruise control was actuated by vacuum from an actual sealed coffee can, sorry no coffee in it, used as an accumalotor painted black sealed with hose taps. It was hooked up to the infamous Variable Venturi carb on the trusty 302 and was accurate to about a 5 m.p.h. spread.It would floor it to speed up, overshoot the speed set and then slow down. Neck massager I guess...LOL

  • Dtremit Dtremit on Aug 04, 2014

    Slight nit to pick: "These cars were the same under the skin as the LTD and Continental" -- not for 1981. The only Continental-badged Panther was the '80; in '81 it became the Town Car. The Continental name reappeared in '81 on the Fox-body car that soldiered on through '87. I had forgotten about these unfortunate tail lights -- the wider ones from '83 are much nicer. (In contrast, I think the '80-'82 lights on the LTD are better.)

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