CC Capsule: 1990 Mercury Sable – A Mildly Spicier Beef


With our delving into all things Taurus this week, how about a little bit of winged messenger sriracha to spice things up?  Seeing a first generation Taurus is rare enough all these years later, let alone the vastly lesser selling Sable.


Lesser selling is a relative term when discussing the Sable.  Selling 97,000 units in inaugural 1986 – exceeding sales of the 1986 Cadillac Seville, Eldorado, and Fleetwood Brougham combined – the Sable wasn’t intended to be the volume seller the Taurus was.  Taurus sales started off at 225,000 for 1986 and climbed to 342,000 by 1990.  For our featured year of 1990 the Sable was humming along at 102,000.

By 1986, Mercury’s ultimately homicidal homogenization with Ford was all but complete.  There had been a time when purchasing a Mercury at least bought a person a slightly longer wheelbase and perhaps an engine of slightly larger displacement.

1973 Mercury-19

This uniqueness started to erode with the Comet and pone-filled Montego (shown).

1979 Mercury Ad-05

The conversion culminated with the 1979 Mercury Grand Marquis sharing a wheelbase with the same year LTD Crown Victoria.  So much for Mercury being something unique.


Naturally, the Sable shared the 106″ wheelbase of the Taurus.

The upside is the Sable didn’t entirely follow what now appeared to be Ford’s short-sighted standard operating procedures.  Whereas the contemporary Lynx, Marquis, and Grand Marquis differed from their Ford counterparts in little more than grilles, tail lights, and header panels, the Sable at least offered up some unique visual elements.


Up front, the band of headlights was fully functional.  In 1986, my parents briefly looked at a new Sable wagon before purchasing their 1985 Crown Victoria.  The strip of lights on the Sable was a really cool thing in my young mind at the time – almost enough to begin offsetting its being a wagon.


On the sedans, one didn’t have to suffer with a solid C-pillar, either.  The Sable offered up a windowed pillar, which must have been a boon for visibility.  The only demerit the Sable really gets is the semi-fenderskirted rear wheels.  These fender skirts always come across like belching in the heat of flirtations with some sweet thing.  It’s a wet blanket on the good vibes.


To the never ending credit of Mercury, they did get wise quicker than Ford in one key area.  For a brief time during model year 1986, one could get a Sable sedan with the 2.5 liter four-cylinder.  Quickly regaining their senses, Mercury eliminated this availability for 1987 whereas Ford kept it through 1991.  It also prompts a question:  Which had lower production volumes – a four-cylinder 1986 Sable or a 1976 Buick LeSabre with the 231 V6?


Airbags came along in 1990, so this car could be either a 1990 or 1991 model.  The Sable that came along for 1992 wasn’t bad, but its being dumbed down to closer mimic the Ford was apparent.

Found nearly two years ago, it makes me wonder if this is the tail-end of first generation Sable sightings.