Rare Rides: The Singular 1989 Mercury Sable Convertible

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Today we head deep into the purest sort of Rare Ride: A vehicle which exists as a singularity, a one-off. It’s a two-door convertible version of the first-generation Mercury Sable.

The lightbar will guide our way.

Taurus and Sable were a big risk for Ford when it introduced its new midsize twins for the 1986 model year. The company went big on cohesive product development, aerodynamics, and a new, modern take on a family sedan and wagon. Six years in development paid off: The Taurus and Sable were an instant hit. They readily found favor with customers eager to leave their boxy rear-drive sedans behind.

The twins’ first generation ran from model years 1986 to 1991, and cars were available solely in sedan and wagon body styles. Sable remained in its original guise until 1989, when it was lightly refreshed via some new parking lamp lenses and different tail lamps. But over at Cars & Concepts, some designers had an idea for additional Sable development sans roof.

The project started with a standard Sable sedan that wore silver paint and a burgundy cloth interior and was powered by the reliable Vulcan 3.0-liter V6. Extensive surgery was required to turn the sedan into a convertible, and the first order of business was ditching the rear doors. Front doors were then made longer to aid rear-seat access, which meant the interior door panels were reworked entirely. A redesign of the rear suspension also occurred. Somewhere in the process, the roof and windows went away too.

Many engineering hours were spent to design a fully automatic hydraulic convertible roof. It folded behind the rear seats and was hidden by a solid tonneau cover. And speaking of the rear seats, tiny 3-inch televisions were added to entertain passengers who found Gameboy screens slightly too small.

The convertible transformation was finished in time for the 1989 SAE Expo, at the very first edition of the NAIAS. There’s no evidence to suggest the project was anything other than Cars & Concepts showing off what they could do. The concept was put in a warehouse for many years until it was titled properly and sold via eBay in 2006. It’s currently for sale via a car dealer in Austin, who used the Sable as a display at his dealership.

The car has accumulated slightly less than 300 miles between 1995 and today, and its odometer presently reads 9,800. This very unique Sable is all yours for $18,900 or thereabouts.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Sep 09, 2020

    Really want to dislike this car, but I can't. They actually seem to have done a 'good' job.

  • 07NodnarB 07NodnarB on Sep 13, 2020

    I was not ready for that. (takes a pause) I...It... (takes another pause). Of all things I thought i'd never see that has got to be first on the list. Interesting...

  • Wjtinfwb Funny. When EV's were bursting onto the scene; Tesla's, Volt's, Leaf's pure EV was all the rage and Hybrids were derided because they still used a gas engine to make them, ahem; usable. Even Volt's were later derided when it was revealed that the Volt's gas engine was actually connected to the wheels, not just a generator. Now, Hybrids are warmly welcomed into the Electric fraternity by virtue of being "electrified". If a change in definition is what it takes, I'm all for it. Hybrid's make so much sense in most American's usage patterns and if needed you can drive one cross-country essentially non-stop. Glad to see Hybrid's getting the love.
  • 3-On-The-Tree We also had a 1973 IH Scout that we rebuilt the engine in and it had dual glass packs, real loud. I miss those days.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff thanks. Back in 1990 we had a 1964 Dodge D100 with a slant six with a 3 on the tree. I taught myself how to drive a standard in that truck. It was my one of many journeys into Mopar land. Had a 1973 Plymouth duster with a slant six and a 1974 Dodge Dart Custom with 318 V8. Great cars and easy to work on.
  • Akear What is GM good at?You led Mary............................................What a disgrace!
  • Randy in rocklin I have a 87 bot new with 200k miles and 3 head gasket jobs and bot another 87 turbo 5 speed with 70k miles and new head gaskets. They cost around 4k to do these days.