Saturday, August 27, 2016

The price is medium . . . the action maximum . . . the car is Mercury

Luxury Pillaging Machine
I was recently in Moosic, PA just south of Scranton when I decided to head out and see if there were any cool rides lurking about. Almost immediately I encountered this sweet beast in front of a shop. The mechanic told me to go right ahead when I asked if I could snap some pics. Thanks man!
This is a 1964 Mercury Montclair Marauder in Onyx. This is a muscle car for a gentleman in the same tradition as the Pontiac Grand Prix; full size and luxurious, with mountains of horsepower to back it up. The styling was coined as the "Let's go!" look by the Mercury marketing department.
The brochure for the '64 Mercs is loaded to the gills with colorful descriptions so I'll use their words whenever possible. The brochure says this car has a "thrusting spear-shaped profile" to go with its "slender, racy roof". I just think it looks bad-ass, especially in black!
Shades of the JFK assassination Continental can be seen up front in the pointed fender and bumper leading edge as well as the convex grill. The '63 had a concave grill while the '65 was perfectly flat so identifying the year is easy on these.
This one is missing a piece of jewelry though; those three tiny holes above the inner headlight once held an emblem with Mercury written out in chrome script.
This foreshortened checkered flag is one of my favorite emblems from the '60s. That MARAUDER font is aggressive, awesome, and not typical for this era in its blockiness.
That little triangular lens tucked within the chrome is the Fender-Sight Directional. It is connected via fiber optic to the turn signal so you can see if the bulb needed changing.
The dimensions are very similar to the Ford Galaxie 500XL of the day. Most full size Mercuries had the backward-slanted Breezeway rear window that rolled down for ventilation. This sporty slanted-notch was Marauder only.
The Marauder was the reigning champion of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb race in Colorado when this was built which is pretty remarkable considering the size of this ride. Pikes Peak consists of 156 turns (many of them switchbacks) over 12+ miles that increases in elevation from 9,300 feet to over 14,000 at the finish. For an 18 foot long 4,000lb car that's quite the feat!
As befits a Mercury this seems to have a nice compliment of creature comforts. The radio has station preset buttons and next to that we can see the optional square clock. I don't believe this one came with air conditioning because the units I've seen hang under the dash and have lots of chrome vents. Gotta love the clear top of the steering wheel though!
The back panel is convex like the grill and even has faux vents painted on.
As far as I can tell these chrome rectangles have no purpose except for style. Maybe the big expanse between the window and trunk lid was too much? Maybe they were covering an unsightly seam?
Trunk for days!
Here's a close-up of the trunk lid emblem complete with the likeness of the god Mercury above three stylized starbursts or crosses. The paint on this thing looks like the skin on the back of a hand.
The Marauder would continue through the 1965 model year before being discontinued. The name briefly resurfaced on a truly massive car from '69-'70 before disappearing again. Eventually it would show up on a 2003-2004 blacked out sedan that was supposed to help the Mercury image but failed. People could see it was basically a Crown Vic with no chrome and who really wants to spend big bucks on a black taxi anyway? Not many people was the answer and within the decade Mercury would cease to exist.
This car is a great example of a typical 1960s domestic car. Massive, assertive, powerful, and commanding are words that describe it pretty well. The market for this sort of full size sporty car existed really only in the early to mid '60s. Lighter, leaner muscle cars would take over at the end of the decade followed by the bloated and glacial personal luxury cars of the '70s and '80s. If your idea of a classic is one you can cruise around with 5 other people or challenge someone to a drag race this might be the perfect choice. 
After all, the price is medium . . . the action maximum . . . the car is Mercury!

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