Mercury Grand Marquis is First Produced
The Mercury Grand Marquis is a full-size rear-wheel drive sedan sold by the Mercury division of the Ford Motor Company.
The nameplate has been in use since 1975 and has been a separate car line since 1983. It is essentially Mercury's version of the Ford Crown Victoria with which it shares its Panther platform along with the Lincoln Town Car. Since its introduction, the Grand Marquis has only been available with a V8 engine, and with features such as 6-passenger bench seating, it remains one of the last "traditional" American full-size cars still available for retail sale; it has even taken the place of its Crown Victoria twin in retail markets (the Crown Victoria has been dropped from non-fleet sales after 2007).
The Grand Marquis is presently manufactured at the St. Thomas Assembly Plant in Canada though it was also produced from 1983 to 1985 in Ford's St. Louis, Missouri facility.
The Mercury Marquis was introduced as a trim package on the 1967 Mercury Monterey. The Marquis name gradually replaced Monterey. The Grand Marquis trim line was introduced in 1975 as a step up from the base Marquis and Marquis Brougham. The Grand Marquis became a model in its own right in 1983 when Mercury's mid-size offering was renamed Marquis. Since then, there have been four generations of the Grand Marquis: 1983-1991 (the only version sold in multiple body styles), 1992-1997, 1998-2002, and the current generation, introduced in 2003 (this generation was sold as the 2003-2004 Marauder).
The Grand Marquis was introduced as a model in its own right in 1983, when the base Marquis and Marquis Brougham nameplates were moved to the mid-sized Fox platform. The Grand Marquis nameplate remained on the Panther platform as Mercury's flagship sedan. It continued to be produced at Ford's St. Louis Assembly Plant, but production was gradually shifted to St. Thomas Assembly in Canada. The only change the Grand Marquis had from the previous models was Central Fuel Injection replacing the two-barrel carburetor, new taillights, and a new grille.
The 302 in³ Windsor V8 was the only engine available from model years 1983-1985, coupled with a four-speed AOD automatic. From 1986-1991 The Grand Marquis was available with a 5.8 L 351 in³ Windsor V8 but was a rare option according to ALLDATA.[broken citation]
The new Grand Marquis sold well, and remained virtually unchanged until 1986, when it received sequential electronic fuel injection and all production moved to the St. Thomas plant.
Amidst a quasi-renaissance of large, rear-drive V8-powered sedans, the Mercury Grand Marquis is, for its fans anyway, an example of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The big Mercury, a slightly fancier twin of the now-discontinued Ford Crown Victoria, exhibits old-school automotive design with its stout but heavy body-on-frame construction, solid rear axle and softly tuned suspension calibrations. Its American and Japanese peers, by comparison, feature lighter unibody architecture and fully independent suspensions.
The ride and handling envelope suffers somewhat as a result because while the Mercury Grand Marquis handles respectably for a large car, it's not as athletic as more modern rivals. But folks prize this Mercury for its roomy cabin, plush, quiet ride and bulletproof construction, not its ability to tear through a winding road at breakneck speed. It's no wonder that for decades its plainer relative has been the favorite of cab companies, police departments and fleet operators everywhere.
The Grand Marquis name dates back to the mid-'70s, when it signified the top trim level of the Mercury Marquis. The Marquis shared its basic platform with the full-size Ford LTD, which was later renamed the Crown Victoria. Unlike today's version, which is identical in nearly every way to the Crown Vic, the older Grand Marquis looked more like a Lincoln and had a more luxurious cabin.
In essence, the Mercury Grand Marquis bridged the gap between the workaday Ford and expensive Lincoln sedans. With hidden headlights and chrome trim that accented the massive, stately body, the Grand Marquis floated down the road propelled by V8 engines ranging up to 460 cubic inches (7.5 liters) in displacement.
A serious downsizing took place in 1979 that saw weight drop by 700 pounds, the wheelbase shrink by 7 inches and the big V8s replaced by a 302-cubic-inch (5.0-liter) mill. The boxy-looking Grand Marquis continued like this until a major revamp for '92, which is covered in more detail below.
For the full-size sedan shopper who just wants a big, comfortable V8-equipped sedan and nothing more, the current Mercury Grand Marquis offers compelling value. Just keep in mind that it's affordable for a reason. Premium features like navigation, high-powered audio and Bluetooth are nowhere to be found, and competing large sedans are much more modern in their mechanical makeup and overall design.
Current Mercury Grand Marquis
The Mercury Grand Marquis is a full-size, six-passenger sedan available in one trim level -- the LS. Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, rear air suspension, automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a power 40/20/40 split front bench, leather upholstery and a CD player. Available options include chrome wheels; heated front seats; a leather/wood steering wheel with audio and climate controls; power-adjustable pedals and a slightly upgraded stereo.
Despite its 2-ton curb weight, the Grand Marquis feels reasonably quick off the line thanks to a 4.6-liter V8 engine that delivers 224 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic is the only transmission available. Traction control is standard, but stability control is not available. Inside, the dated design and spotty materials quality are immediately apparent. The vehicle's strengths are its solid value for the money and the roomy, comfortable accommodations for five or six. This includes a huge 21-cubic-foot trunk that'll easily swallow a week's worth of luggage for four adults or a family.
In reviews, we've found that the Mercury Grand Marquis delivers a soft, forgiving ride quality. As one might expect, handling is mushy. Ultimately, there's just no getting around this big sedan's decades-old design, substantial weight and large dimensions.
Used Mercury Grand Marquis Models
Though it's received a variety of updates throughout the years, the Grand Marquis is still basically the same car as it was back in 1998, the point of the last major redesign. Most recently, changes involved paring down the choices within the Grand Marquis line. 2008 marked the end of the line for the base GS trim level, which came with cloth seats and steel wheels. The Handling package, discontinued for 2008, upped the V8's output to 239 horses and 287 lb-ft and notably improved handling, as the name would suggest. With the demise of this package, the base engine became the Grand Marquis' sole power plant.
For 2003 the Grand Marquis received an all-new chassis, a redesigned front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering, all of which improved the big Merc's crash performance and handling. Antilock brakes were made standard that year, and front side airbags were available on the LS. The V8 was revised to deliver a bit more power, and the rear suspension was tweaked to improve handling. The performance-minded Marauder, a name that harkened back to the 1960s, also debuted that year. This blacked-out Grand Marquis featured a firmer suspension, big wheels, bucket seats and a four-cam, 302-hp V8. But this model would be discontinued a few years later, as the general public just wasn't receptive to a hot-rod Mercury.
Following the end of the previous model's long (1979-'91) run, the '92 Mercury Grand Marquis debuted with a restyled body and a new-generation, overhead-cam 4.6-liter V8 rated at 190 or 210 hp (with dual exhaust). We found the new engine much smoother and more powerful than the ancient overhead-valve V8s it replaced. Minor improvements carried through to 1995, when a subtle face-lift yielded a new grille, lights, bumpers, trunk lid and dash. Not much changed after that until the next big update three years later.
Way forward. Bold Moves. Screw that. If America wants a bold, innovative car, they'll buy a Toyota. If they want something honest, inexpensive and comfortable, they'll buy a Ford. If they want an honest car with added spizzarkle, they'll spend a little more for a Mercury. Well, that's how it used to be, until Ford started building sub-par Japanese wanna-be's. Thankfully, the Blue Oval offers at least one rear-wheel drive automobile that stays true to the company's roots: the Mercury Grand Marquis.
Park the Grand Marquis next to its foreign counterparts and it's clear that the American luxobarge ain't livin' large no mo'. Snout-to-tail comparisons with a Camry require measurements smaller than a foot; millimeters differentiate their relative heights. Fortunately, the Marquis' ping-pong table hood and aircraft-carrier rear deck survive into the new millennium, while its broad shoulders continue to evoke memories of Officer Badass. Although the Marquis' police-a-like shape sends shivers down the spines of Boy Racers, the car's basic design is wildly inoffensive. This despite a new-for-'06 schnoz that blends-in about as well as a Speedo-wearing fat guy in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue.
The Grand Marquis' soft-touch keyless entry system ensures that its well-aged core clientele never lock themselves out, or loved ones in. (Take that, OnStar!) Even better, its portals swing open with all the reassuring monumentality of an '80's Mercedes S-Class. Once inside, the barge's beltline makes for excellent visibility and ensures easy parking maneuvers for one so broad of beam (the car, not its driver). Although the luscious nomenclature evokes memories of "Studio 54" decadence, the Grand Marquis' cabin sports a cabaret of dull and brittle coverings– in stark contrast to the fake tree trim glowing with radioactive glee on the car's massive dash.
The Grand Marquis' appointments can't hold a candle to a Camry's, but the big Merc is still leagues ahead of the Chrysler 300's blue light special. A pair of indulgent seats offers another clear advantage. Fold the deeply padded armrests and a spare bedroom awaits episodes of marital distress. Or perhaps a second honeymoon with the cavernous backseat? Six-passenger seating in a sedan is a forgotten delight, and beats the third row penalty box found in any similarly priced SUV. Crank up the tunes and feel the bass booming from the bowels of Mercury's Brick House trunk. The Commodores never sounded so mighty-mighty.
The Marquis keeps the muscle car flame alive with a redesigned analog gauge cluster, complete with its first-ever tachometer. Fire-up the cammer V8 and a distant rumble filters in from the ghosts of big-block Cyclones and Marauders. Although the Grand Marquis' mill only musters 239 horses, there's more than enough torque to take the "grind" out of the daily. Four gears are all you get (only one less than you really need). If you're young enough to read this site on a regular basis, or old enough to remember the Blues Brothers, you'll want Mercury's little known police package: cop engine (dual exhausts), cop tires (speed rated), cop shocks (monotube dampers) and cop suspension (revised front coils, Watts-link rear with heavy duty air springs and bigger sway bars). Evo's keep on frontin' but that guy in the Camry is toast.
Yank the column shifter to first and hammer the throttle. The Marquis' composed suspension, marginally-involving steering, torquey mill and RWD orientation make it an honest-to-God hoot in the corners. Pseudo-Super Troopers whose courage exceeds their skill benefit from the Marquis' five star crash test ratings. Credit the same brick shit house construction for the smoothest ride in town: hydroformed components on a body-on-frame chassis. Pot holes, speed bumps or subcompacts are a distant blip on the butt radar. Factor in a solid 21mpg (on regular gas) in mixed driving, and rough-riding, gas-guzzling SUVs hang their heads in shame.
Obviously the Grand Marquis is no match for a stick-shifted V6 Accord or Altima. But the Marquis ushers the family to grandma's house in far greater comfort. And, lest we forget, the Marquis' price lines up against baseline, four-cylinder versions of those wrong-wheel drive whips. According to the official Mercury website, the last of the Great V8 Interceptors has $5000 on the hood. And the deal grows sweeter down at the showroom. Hell, they're giving them away!
So why are Matlock fans the only people buying Mercury's Grand Marquis? Clearly, Ford turned its back on the old soldier; their press gang can't even be bothered to update the website with photos of the Marquis' analog instrumentation. No matter. It's time for pistonheads to reclaim old-school American cars for their own. The fact that Ford is killing this platform for some weak-kneed front driver only makes the Grand Marquis more desirable. And don't forget: it never hurts a speed demon to look like a cop.