A Photo Series for Sunday: 1995 Mercury Grand Marquis LS

This makes a change from cars seen around my neighbourhood. It’s a 1995 Mercury Grand Marquis LS, sighted in Gothenburg, Sweden.

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Much to my surprise, some of Sweden’s older city centres have a rather American feel, specifically that part of the US in the north east such as Upstate New York. Gothenburg, where this car was seen, has stone and brick houses on streets lined up in grids. That immediately suggests an American way of town planning which is supposedly rational but disrespects topography and leads to stupidly steep roads among other ill-effects. The major roads of the mid-20th century in Sweden are styled after American freeways and have a similar brutal character: ugly to look at and confusing to drive on.

Looking at the map you realise they are designed to promote the circulation of traffic as if it were a moronic liquid like blood in veins. Seen from ground level this arrangement is in fact very confusing as one’s left/right sense is obliterated after several 360 sweeps around the clover-leaf on-ramps. In other ways, Sweden is a gentle and civilised place with impressive super-markets, fine scenery and lovely people. Who’d have figured social democratic Sweden would model its roads on the capitalistic USA?

Put like this, one suddenly understands the prevalence of American cars in Sweden. Most of them are quite predictable chrome-and-fins land yachts. I didn’t see any other 90’s US cars apart from this; though this is quite a nice pick from the 90s. It’s the ’95 version of the Mercury Grand Marquis, related to the Ford Crown Victoria by dint of its Panther-body underpinnings. I’ve only seen two others in two decades.

Wikipedia notes that this car was intended to appeal to younger buyers than the predecessor. Opera lights and wire-wheels were options only. This example is sadly afflicted with rust on both front wings. I could not photograph the interior. It is however, very wide and trimmed with beige leather.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

14 thoughts on “A Photo Series for Sunday: 1995 Mercury Grand Marquis LS”

  1. Richard, for decades before FoMoCo dropped the Mercury line Mercuries were badge engineered Fords. Differences between equivalent models were nearly always minimal, sometimes so minimal that one has to look carefully to see which brand a car is.

    Fins? In the ’90s? On US-made cars? Are you sure?

    I wish our superhighways were as easy to navigate as you say. I’ve been through some interchanges where those who didn’t know the way — away from my area I’m one of them — got through with considerable worry, sometimes even terror when traffic was heavy.

  2. Fred- My text was ambiguous. I meant to say a large proportion of US cars in Sweden seem to be from the late 50s to mid 70s. Other periods are not so well represented and this Mercury was the only 90s US car.
    You were correct to wonder about my remark.
    Poor Mercury. I can’t think of a stand-alone Mercury other than things like the Capri (an Australian Ford convertible) and the Cougar (a rebadged EuroFord) from er, ’97? Weren’t some of the earlier Cougars a bit different from the Falcon cousin they were paired with? As I said elsewhere here, the absence of Mercury has dragged Lincoln into a price point vacuum. Ford, for such a large firm, has a hard time creating or managing brands outside its heartland marque. There’s an essay on that…I’ll save the thought.
    Fred- how do you view the Mercury here? And what – if it’s possible to say- did Mercury mean to its customers?

  3. I see the Grand Marquis as an old man’s car, the Crown Victoria as a police car and taxi cab, and their slightly expanded brother the Lincoln Town Car as an older man’s car and a livery service car. This is based mostly on how I’ve seen them used. Even though I drive an ’11 Accord –quintessential old man’s car, just look at the huge clearly labeled buttons — I don’t feel old enough to own one of those FoMoCo triplets.

    Since I’m not a customer I can’t speak for the people who bought the things. I imagine, could well be mistaken, that the people — police departments aside — who bought those things saw them as large enough, comfortable enough and relatively risk free. But I’m really just guessing.

    The Cougar began as a larger heavier badge engineered Mustang, became a larger heavier badge engineered Thunderbird and then a US version of the resto of the world’s Puma. If I’m not mistaken somewhere along the line the Cougar-badged Mustang was replaced by a Capri-badged Mustang. You’re right, the original Mustang was a rebodied Falcon. Having been thoroughly terrified by an early low-line Mustang — 259 V8, automatic transmission; it went sideways starting from rest with the throttle closed — I’ve had no interest in owning an version of the car including the current one that is reported to be quite capable even though immense.

    I don’t agree entirely with you about Ford’s inability to create/manage brands. The real problem is that they think badge engineering is the answer. Compare that with GM, for whom I hold no brief. Cadillacs aren’t thinly disguised Chevrolets. Lincolns have been thinly disguised Fords since the ’60s.

    1. You are right – it is an old man´s car.
      I have recently read a raodtest of the 1991 Chevrolet Caprice – the GM pendant of this car – the median age of the Caprice purchaser was 64.
      (By the way these customers were shocked by the futuristic look of the ´91 Caprice…”You can´t decide if its coming or going”… ).
      What is a typical US-car for those silver-agers nowadays? In Germany the VW Tiguan and the the A-Class from Mercedes (not the new sporty one) are typical cars for those people.

      Maybe those older Yankees are now driving cars from Japan. Or am i wrong?

  4. The chopping and changing of donor cars and badge engineering is bewildering. I am endlessly in awe of people who can keep track of it. The Cougar was paired with the Falcon until it became a smaller, lighter car when it was paired with Ford Europe’s Cougar and then it died out. There were American Ford Capris that were not the same as the Essex/Merkenich Capri. That’s as much as I know. The Mustang’s lineage is beyond me other than it did give rise to a Cougar at some point in the ‘Sixties.
    The more I think about large car combines, the more I realise most have handled their captured brands poorly.

  5. Trade names change but the crapmobiles keep rolling out of the factories.

    In the late ’50s, a Mercury was just a lightly restyled Ford. And then came the Edsel, another lightly restyled Ford. I didn’t understand how FoMoCo thought they could get away with it and I still don’t. Same goes for GM (USA) with GMC vehicles that are lightly restyled Chevrolets.

    1. The case of GMC is baffling. The GMC trucks are identical to Chevrolets, right?
      Is it a legal thing, to do with dealerships and whatnot?
      The Mercury Topaz caught my eye when I was in the US because it looked the very same as the Ford Tempo. I noticed how aero styling had been forced over a very boxy architecture. Meanwhile in Europe the Sierra had gone the whole hog. I can’t imagine anyone liking a Tempaz.
      Mercury should always have had different sheet metal.

  6. Yes. Every GMC model (pickup truck, SUV) has a Chevy counterpart.

    As I recall, this silliness started when Pontiac (= slightly upscale Chevy with lightly modified sheet metal and slightly downscale Buick/Olds with slightly modified sheetmetal) dealers complained complained that they had no pickup trucks or SUVs. So they got GMC franchises to go with their Pontiac franchises. Pontiac is gone but GMC lingers on. Its persistence is a mystery to me too.

    In a way GMC’s product strategy brings to mind a phenomenon in Computer Shopper before the market for IBM PC clones settled down. Back then CS was our national marketplace for PC clones and parts and cheap software and … All this before the Internet was generally accessible. On clone maker bought ~ 50% of CS’ advertising pages under dozens of different names. It claimed that prospective buyers essentially flipped pages and selected vendors more or less randomly. Buying half of the magazine would get, if the logic were correct. half of the market. We saw the parallel thing in broadcast TV before the proliferation of specialized cable channels. Some stations broadcast in the VHF band (typically network owned and operated or affiliates, better programming), others in the UHF band (typically independents,worse programming, smaller footprints). The best model for predicting viewer choice was channel roulette. All VHF channels had the same chance of snagging a viewer, all UHFs had the same smaller chance.

    Perhaps GM is playing pickup truck and SUV roulette.

    Topaz. Oh my. A friend had one. Not as quick as my wife’s slug of a 4 cyl carburetted 504 with automatic transmission, and much worse handling.

  7. Markus, without doing a survey I really can’t be sure which cars my fellow old codgers are driving. I drive an ’11 Accord. Its large clearly-marked push buttons were made for the elderly. Early this year I rented a Fiesta to attend a memorial service for an older codger. Oh dear! All those tiny buttons with no clear purposes! What was Ford thinking?

    Eyeball surveys during visits to Florida suggest that Toyota Avalons and the Lexus equivalent seem to be very popular where well-off retirees live. Those people excepted, I suppose its the usual. Whatever an elderly buyer can afford to own that isn’t too noisy or flashy.

    Honda pitched the Element to people in their 20s. As far as I know the people who bought Elements were mostly over 60. The Element is no more and I don’t know what’s replaced it.

    1. It sounds like the element went the way of the European Ford Fusion. That too was aimed at young urbanites and bought by older people. Its package was structured around a high H-point.

    2. Rule numebr one in the business of selling cars for older people: Don´t advertise them as cars for older people.
      So those cars are named (Golf) Sportsvan or (BMW) Active Tourer.

      Is not the growing sales of SUV´s a sign for our ageing societies ?

  8. Markus, I see many youngsters driving SUVs. To my untrained eye an SUV is a jacked up (why?) four wheel drive (why?) station wagon. I can understand why a large household would want a station wagon but don’t see how a one- or two-person household can justify one.

    Perhaps the SUV is another manifestation of the pickup truck as car phenomenon. “I might have to haul something larger than will fit in a sedan from somewhere to somewhere else.” When I’ve had to haul large objects — the last ones were a pair of 75 gallon (US) aquariums — I’ve rented a truck.

    But I’m not just an old codger, I’m an old curmudgeon. Being a young one is much better,

  9. Markus: Yes, among the reasons for the popularity of SUV´s is the fact the raised ride heigh suits older drivers. I would add to your rule: “And don´t mention the rule.”
    Fred: the SUV has another appeal, which is the sense of security they pretend to offer. When I read the US-based websites I often read comments to the effect “If I was in an accident I´d rather be in Ford F-150 [or any large SUV] than in a Geo Metro [or any smaller car]”.
    Jack Baruth has a theory that the SUV simply represents the best interpration of the average person´s perceived needs. You can read this rather good essay here: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/10/no-fixed-abode-steady-going-nowhere/
    About being a curmudgeon, old or otherwise, you are not alone. I like to think we have a healthy dose of curmudgeonliness here.

  10. Richard, I think there’s more to it than that. Are you acquainted with Cigarette boats? If not, look here http://www.cigaretteracing.com/eng/index.php

    Some years ago when one of my subordinates was sucking up to me he took me out on his boat. A Cigarette went by, making a tremendous racket. “What’s the point of that?” “Most boaters call those things dicks.”

    I’d argue that many SUVs are, like nearly all of the pickup trucks used as cars in the US, penis surrogates. If you haven’t seen a recent Chevy Suburban/Cadillac Escalade ESV in the sheet metal you haven’t had your own, um, shortcomings properly rubbed in.

    I’m as insecure as the next man but don’t see what I’d gain by flaunting my insecurity.

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