Digestible Collectible: 2003 Mercury Marauder

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
digestible collectible 2003 mercury marauder

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.

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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!

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?