Ford ditches its Mercury line

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Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A brand new Mercury Milan is displayed in the showroom at San Francisco Ford Lincoln Mercury June 2, 2010 in San Francisco, California. Ford Motor Co. announced plans to shut its struggling Mercury brand after Ford's board of directors voted to discontinue the 71-year old brand.

If you’re in the market for a new car, chances are it’s not a Mercury. That’s why Ford Motor Company is junking that brand. The cross between Ford's luxury Lincoln and mainstream models has been around for 71 years. But sales aren’t like they were in the late 1970s when more than half a million sold. Last year, you almost couldn’t give one away. Mercury dealers only sold 92,000.

These days, Ford enjoys an increase in sales, but Mercury continues to stall. That kind of news that creates a buzz among employees at the Peterson Automotive Museum on Los Angeles’ Miracle Mile.

“If you really look at Mercury’s line up, especially over the last say ten years or so, it hasn’t really been anything unique,” said Chris Brown, the museum’s spokesman. “Every one of the cars was just a Ford with a vertical bar grill so I think the brand could’ve really been something. I think they could’ve pushed it in a little bit different direction, made it a little but more unique … but they didn’t do that.”

One reflection of Mercury’s glory days - a 1939 convertible - is on display at the museum. Brown shows it off.

“It’s this beautiful, very subtle kind of warm gray color. Wide white walls. It’s got a V8 so it’s got some power to it," Brown said. "Beautiful brown top, kind of a maroonish colored interior and a very simple, chrome features on it. Simple lines. It’s got kind of a bulbous shape to it. There’s a lot of round shapes… big round fenders on it. Very contemporary car for its time.”

Ford announced this week that it’ll discontinue the Mercury line in the fall. Officials say the company will put its energy – and dollars – into developing its Lincoln luxury brand.

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