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Mercury: The History of Ford's Now-Defunct Division

In the past, Ford had a division that was called Lincoln-Mercury. Today, it's only referred to Lincoln. As you may know, the other half of that union was discontinued in 2011. But before any of that happened, Mercury played a pivotal role in Ford's marketing strategy. Back in the 1930s, the company had to find a way to market vehicles that are more upscale than regular Ford vehicles but aren't in the same level of Lincoln's premium offerings. Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford, came up with the solution to that problem. He proposed to set up another division which would later be known as Mercury.

Identity Crisis

Even though it was clear that the Mercury was slotted in between regular Fords and the luxurious Lincolns, complications arose when the short-lived Edsel-yet another division of Ford (not to be confused with Henry Ford's son)-came into play. Edsel made things confusing for consumers as they didn't know whether to treat the Mercury as a high-end Ford vehicle or as a lower-tier Lincoln automobile. Fortunately, Edsel was discontinued after a few years as this helped the Mercury gain back its distinctiveness.

More Shifts in Identity

After the whole Edsel fiasco, Mercury started to really set itself apart from the regular Fords and the premium Lincolns as it began producing models that looked very different from its siblings. However, this did not last long as the division eventually reverted back to being known as merely a Junior Lincoln. Although that didn't last long either as Mercury then transitioned to producing performance vehicles. The division kept changing up its image until its final years.

The Last Hurrah

After a relatively quiet decade in the 2000s, Mercury tried one last time to rehabilitate its image. The division updated its roster of vehicles to appeal to a younger segment of the market. However, less-than-average sales forced Ford to finally pull the plug on Mercury.

Mercury Top Sellers

Mercury Highlights

The Fall of Mercury

Another one bites the dust. Those are lyrics from an old catchy and bass-heavy song. They also describe the fate of Mercury, Ford's former mid-level division. Ford announced in 2010 that Mercury would be phased out by the following year. The reason behind the decision was because the division was practically stagnant during the 2000s. The last Grand Marquis, one of Mercury's most popular vehicles, rolled off the assembly lines in January 4, 2011.

A Look Back

In its earlier years, Mercury was a critical part of Ford's marketing strategy as Ford needed to fill the gap between regular Fords and high-end Lincoln. Mercury filled that gap and started producing its own line of vehicles in 1938. Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford, was the brain behind the division.

A 70-Year Run

Mercury's role in Ford's branding was obvious in its earlier years. However, this became blurred later on as the division seemingly can't decide if it wants to be known as Lincoln lite or a brand that produces performance automobiles. It was plagued by identity crisis throughout the decades. But despite that, they were able to produce quality vehicles such as the iconic Mercury Cougar and the powerful Mercury Marauder during its approximately 70-year run.

Mercury Trivia

Mercury: Fun Facts about Ford

  • Before settling for the name "Mercury," Ford had over 100 name ideas for their mid-level automotive division.
  • In Roman Mythology, the name "Mercury" referred to the messenger of the gods. The name of Ford's Mercury division was derived from that.
  • Edsel Ford, the one who conceptualized the Mercury brand, had an interest in exploratory expeditions. In fact, Edsel funded the historic flight of Richard Byrd over the North Pole in 1926.
  • Edsel Ford was very interested in African art. His collection of these is currently housed in the Detroit Institute of Arts.
  • The estate of Edsel Ford and his wife Eleanor Ford is called Gaukler Point. Today, it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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