When the Picture Time post for the Villager Nautica went up on these pages last year, the idea for this particular edition of Buy/Drive/Burn was already on my mind. In fact, in the big list of trios I keep for this series, this one has always been at the top of the list.
The year is 1994, and you’ve got a luxury minivan to set alight.
Kicky appearance packages and vivid colors were all the rage among Detroit makers of cheap econoboxes during the late 1980s through middle 1990s, and so it became necessary for the Dearborn masterminds to create a Mercurized Ford Escort that would enthrall younger car shoppers. Thus was the Mercury Tracer Trio born. Here’s a screaming purple ’95, spotted in a Denver self-service yard.
Great handling, two seats, sporty styling, and coupe lines. No, we’re not talking about a Corvette Z06, because it’s another Malaise Day here at Rare Rides — and our topic of discussion is a shockingly orange Ford EXP.
I always thought those letters stood for EXtra Powerful, but maybe I was wrong. Let’s find out.
Last time on Rare Rides we featured a V8-powered American muscle car that started out as a coupe and had the roof removed by an aftermarket company. Opinions of the Callaway Speedster were mixed, ranging from “meh” to “1990s meh.” So for this Rare Rides entry, we are [s]doing something completely different[/s] following the exact same formula, executed in a different way.
It’s a very special Mercury, at a much lower price point. McLaren anyone?
Lately, I’ve taken you back in time when it’s my turn to offer up a Question of the Day. Today is no exception, as we’re going to discuss the past and the future at the same time. Now, while your head is spinning and you reach for a VHS copy of Back to the Future, allow me to explain.
We’re going to discuss the car brand you’d like to resurrect, and the models it would offer today. Sound like fun?
It’s been a couple of weeks since we took a stroll down memory lane together. I asked you in May about the worst car you could recall in your high school parking lot. The incoming responses made it seem like our enthusiast B&B members were often aware they were the winner of the bad car blue ribbon in school. That speaks to our level of enlightenment and self-awareness. Think of how many people go through life not ever realizing how bad their cars are.
For today though, we run away from the rust buckets and 75-horsepower Malaise Wonders. I want to hear about the most awesome car in your high school lot.
I’m back again. Shortly after today’s QOTD about special editions went live, I received an email back from a kind contact at Ford. She provided me with the press photos of the Mercury Villager Nautica I had requested. Since they’re so nice, and you probably haven’t seen them anywhere else, it’s Picture Time.
Feast your eyes on this tasty minivan.
It’s not hard to find Detroit sedans of the early to mid 1970s in California self-service wrecking yards, and so I usually don’t photograph stuff like ’73 Olds 88s or ’76 Chrysler New Yorkers unless they’re in pretty decent condition. However, the 1970-71 Mercury Montego is special because these cars (and their Cyclone cousins) have the craziest snouts of just about any vehicle from Detroit during the second half of the 20th century, thus I felt compelled to photograph this very battered example. It also pleases me to make Lincoln-Mercury loyalist Sajeev Mehta taste his own bitter tears, so here we go!
If 1958 wasn’t the peak of automotive glitz and excess, it was damn close to it.
American automakers, emboldened by a never-ending postwar buying spree, heaped more chrome and new technology onto their models that year than ever before. Uplevel models — Lincoln, Buick and Olds, especially — were the worst offenders, somehow managing to make themselves look 1,000 pounds heavier than their tasteful ’57 predecessors.
I’m untangling a logistical nightmare and I think a Panther can help.
This particular nightmare involves relocating from Urbana, IL to Idaho Falls, ID, a 1964 Corvette convertible that’s sitting in Richmond, VA, and a Grand Marquis in New Jersey. The Corvette “ran when parked” in my father-in-law’s garage in 1982 and brought back to Illinois by me using a rental van towing a car hauler. A moving company will take care of the move to Idaho including transporting one car, but not the Corvette because the car has to be operational. In the meantime, my Dad needs to sell my grandfather’s Grand Marquis.
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.
Imagine it’s 1992 and you’re shopping for a sporty convertible: Do you get an Australian-built front-wheel-drive Mazda based on the 323 … or do you get a Miata?
In 1983, Ford decided to put the Mercury Marquis on the new-ish Fox Platform, while the Grand Marquis remained on the Panther Platform (where it would stay until the bitter end). Confused? Hey, at least the Marquis/Grand Marquis split wasn’t as puzzling as, say, the Toyota Corolla Tercel (which was unrelated to the Corolla) or the Nissan Stanza Wagon (which was only slightly related to the other US-market Stanzas).
Here’s a faded but generally solid ’83 Marquis woodie wagon I saw in Northern California in August.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Jwee I think it is short sighted and detrimental to the brand. The company should be generous to its locked-in user base, treating them as a resource, not a revenue stream.This is what builds any good relationship, generosity to the other partner. Apple does with their products. My iPhone is 5 years old, but I keep getting the latest and greatest updates for free, which makes me feel valued as a customer and adds actual value. When it is time for a new phone, Apple past treatment towards me certainly plays into my decisions (as did BMW's - so long subscription extracting pigs, its been a great 20 years). Imagine how much good will and love (and good press) Polestar would get from their user base if they gave them all a "68 fresh horses" update overnight, for free. Brand loyalty would soar (provided their car is capable).
- ToolGuy If I had some space I would offer $800 and let the vehicle sit at my place as is. Then when anyone ever asked me, "Have you ever considered owning a VW?" I would say "Yes."
- ToolGuy In the example in the linked article an automated parking spot costs roughly 3% of the purchase price of the property. If I were buying such a property, I would likely purchase two parking spots to go with it, and I'm being completely serious.(Speaking of ownership vs. subscription, the $150 monthly maintenance fee would torque me off a lot more than the initial acquisition cost.)
- ToolGuy "which will be returned as refunds to citizens of the state" - kind of like the Alaska Permanent Fund? Make the amount high enough and I will gladly move to California to take advantage (my family came close to moving there when I was a teen, and oodles of people have moved from CA to my state, so I'm happy to return the favor).Note to California: You probably do not want me as a citizen.
- ToolGuy Nice torque figure.