Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lipstick on a Pig, or one of the hardest naturally occurring minerals

The more common the car the easier it is for it to go extinct before anybody notices. Think of the Passenger Pigeon being hunted to oblivion without any public outrage. Here's the final pigeon:
This is a 1992 Mercury Topaz in Cayman Blue Poly. I took these pictures because I was surprised to see one at all in 2017.
The Topaz is the twin sibling to the Ford Tempo. Both were built from 1984-1994 and picked up where the Fairmont and Zephyr left off. This is one baby step above the basic transportation of the Escort/Lynx. The full width front light bar is much like that of the larger Sable so you have to give it up for design continuity across different models.
This is a GS; the commonest Topaz. It is the mid-tier trim level with nothing remarkable about it. There were a few interesting variations including the GL-AWD which was all wheel drive, and the XR5 and LTS; both high performance versions with the former being a coupe and the latter a sedan.
This ride is similar to several smaller cars built around the same time that weren't quite as popular. The Dodge Shadow and Plymouth Sundance look very much like the Topaz even though they come from a competing company.
The Ford Taurus is widely regarded as being a watershed, game changing design. It heralded the arrival of a bulbous, rounded shape in which the windows and doors were integrated seamlessly for a slippery drag coefficient. The Tempo/Topaz line shares many of those traits and is a transitional shape from the boxes of the '80s to the bubbles of the '90s.
I was feeling a bit too exposed to really press up against the glass but suffice it to say you're not missing much. 2 things are on display in this pic that are very much of the era; stereo and cruise control buttons being located on the steering wheel, and that automatic track-mounted shoulder belt. Anyone who's experienced the shoulder belt automatically trundling back until it pinches your neck hates it. Thankfully they disappeared when airbags were deemed standard equipment, but they reigned in some regard from 1975-1987, and on all new cars from 1990-1995.
Topaz the gemstone is one of the hardest naturally occurring minerals. The Topaz has a MOHS hardness of 8!
Oh yeah this little punk has been around. I was happy to see at least a little tape repair to liven things up. Being on the passengers front corner I'm gonna go ahead and blame the driver 100% for this one. Taking a corner a bit wide or not quite noticing how close the parked cars are can do this easily.
Well there you have it; an utterly forgotten luxury version of a car that might as well be called BASIC TRANSPORTATION.
Mercury as a brand is no longer with us in 2017, which is kind of a shame. From its beginnings before WWII through the 1970s Mercury built so many amazing cars. They were always a luxury offshoot of Ford but they even managed some unique and awesome muscle cars with the Cougar and Cyclone. By the time this little Topaz was sold new Mercury was relegated to only producing cars identical to Ford but with slightly better trim. Their last big hit was the Grand Marquis but the demographic buying them grew older and died off (if that sounds harsh I assure you that their own internal research found that this is how it went down!). In the very end a gussied-up Ford Explorer called the Mountaineer was the first called to the chopping block. Within a year all other Mercury products followed suit, bringing the 72 year old nameplate to a finish in 2011.

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