My Grandpa was a rather practical man. He believed in function over form. High style and impressing others never appealed to him, but it paid off handsomely in the end. And for Grandma too.
Grandpa worked for Ford Motor Company, spending most of the first thirty-three years in a Supervisory Position. After he retired in 1986, Ford called and asked him if he would return, so he did, and stayed eleven more years, this time working for Ford of Europe as a Transmission expert. All those years he would drive the most rusty and dented up old barges you could imagine, mainly because he found them easier and more enjoyable to work on. With the exception of the 1976 Lincoln Mark IV he bought my Grandma (he generally preferred 1970’s vintage Thunderbird/Cougars.
Despite Grandpa’s preference for Ford’s “midsize” offerings, he always spoke fondly of the Full Size cars, especially the Mercury Grand Marquis. He always said that when he retired he would probably buy one for my Grandma, and in the Fall of 1997, he made good on that promise.
Grandpa knew that by waiting till the end of the model year he would be able to get a really good deal, as Mr. Sesi would be willing to offer a discount on top of A-Plan. When Grandma and Grandpa went to visit Mr. Sesi’s showroom, there in the corner of said showroom sat the perfect car, the last 1997 Grand Marquis LS they had, in Medium Wedgewood Blue with Wedgewood Blue Leather interior. A deal was struck, and the Grand Marquis was brought home-and put in the garage, only to be brought out for special occasions, and long trips.
The 1995-97 Panthers are considered the “Fat Panthers”, due to Ford using above average materials and the overall excellent build quality. 1997 began to show some of the cost cutting to come, with little things such as the deletion of the Mercury emblem on the C-pillar and removal of the cover on the top of the engine.
My Grandparents loved this car so much that two years later they bought a second 1997 Grand Marquis, this time a GS model in Toreador Red. They bought this car to use as a daily driver so that the blue car would stay nice.
Fast forward to today, well, this past weekend to be exact. The car has a little over 24,000 miles on the clock, and still feels like a new car. Grandma asked me to take the car to town and fill the tank for her, as well as run a few errands for her. The car soaks up road imperfections in a way that no modern car seems to be able to. Sure it floats and bobs, but that’s part of it’s appeal. It’s a blast from the past, and a trip down Memory Lane, in more ways than one…