Junkyard Find: 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1981 mercury grand marquis

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!

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2 of 62 comments
  • 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.)

  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
  • Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.