Digestible Collectible: 2003 Mercury Marauder

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

Panther Love will never die.

Plenty of TTAC writers and readers have shared their affection for the big Ford sedans and wagons. I have but one brief tale of Panther Love of my own — that of unrequited lust.

For many years, my dad was a traveling salesman. Company cars were the big perk, and dad went through a few A-bodies before landing a Crown Victoria, painted the same shade of dark grey as the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s cruisers. This came in handy throughout the Great Lakes region he covered. Unfortunately, his time with the big Vic ended before I turned 16, to be replaced by a second-generation Taurus wagon in which I took my drivers’ test.

I’ve yet to drive a Panther.

Since I’ve been on a big, V-8 sedan theme lately, it only makes sense to look toward Dearborn, as I’ve covered GM and the German Big Three over the last couple weeks. This 2003 Mercury Marauder is a natural choice, as it hides a couple of big secrets under the low-key skin.

A decade ago, 300 horsepower was impressive from a family car. Today, my minivan is pushing 270 horses. Thus, someone decided to bring this Marauder up to modern power levels with twin turbochargers. No numbers are quoted, however. The six-speed transmission is an unusual, welcome touch, though the parking brake arrangement is disappointing. Four pedals is one too many, as I can easily see myself bashing an ankle against the floor-mounted emergency brake. There has to be an easy-button lever that can be fitted.

I don’t know that I’d spend $16,000 on this car. Any collector value for the limited edition went out the window when the snails and stick were fitted, and the performance could easily and cheaply be replicated with a cast-off P71 and some catalogs. The workmanship is suspect, too, considering the hacked-up look in the trunk. But it’s an interesting look at what can be done with a beloved chassis.

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • Outback_ute Outback_ute on Dec 31, 2015

    No mention of power, so it has probably not been dynoed and tuned properly. Sounds like there is still a lot of work to be done. @Scoutdude, Ford Australia had a similar choice for this era (2002) engine choice, and went for their own build 5.4 4v to get 390 hp for performance models with the 5.4 3v (295 hp) as the base V8. Trouble was the engine was heavy and bulky, but they can make decent power and sound good.

    • See 1 previous
    • DenverMike DenverMike on Dec 31, 2015

      It looks like the seller just bought the Marauder for a fast/easy flip, with zero knowledge of its power output or if it was properly tuned. He just knows it runs OK. It may have little to no power increase, over stock. The original engine isn't designed for boost anyway, and no forged internals.

  • I absolutely enjoy my 2011 Crown Vic LX as a daily driver and have for the last 40k miles when a purchased her 4 years ago just under 35k. With the granny gear 2.73 rear and stock 4.6 it is no thrill ride, but very few cars on the road have the "traffic cred" as the Crown does. I love it!

  • Geozinger Put in the veggie garden (Western Michigan, we still can get frost this late in the year) finished the remainder of the landscaping updates and hand washed both my beater Pontiac and the Town and Country! Going to the beach today...
  • Rochester I wouldn't obsess over the rate of change, it's happening whether we want it or not.
  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.