This isn’t the car I wanted to be writing about, but it would seem my best laid plans have gone slightly awry. Such is life I suppose. With everything going on in the world it’s important to remember to find joy in the little things, like the subject of today’s car. Well… maybe not so little after all.
This Marauder was found as I was on an evening walk, rounding the fire station on the corner when I happened to glance at the bumper of the Panther body I was all set to ignore.
Now THAT is a name I hadn’t seen on a Panther body before. I knew I was looking at the swan song of the Panther body line. One last shot for the stars by Mercury before it was all over.
Making over 300 horsepower and using many of the same parts as the police pursuit vehicle, the Marauder was a great, big, body-on-frame salute to the American ideal of a muscle car (even if it was a sedan, which doesn’t disqualify it in my book)
The wind in the sails of this land yacht was really the reason one purchased this car. Instead of the regular single overhead cam Ford modular V8, this Mercury was blessed with the dual overhead cam version of that same basic engine. It was shared with the Lincoln Navigator and Mustang Mach 1 from that same era.
While this little article was not what I wanted to be writing about at this time, I’m glad I did. This car wore a temp tag that showed it was recently purchased, and I hope the new owner enjoys their rather special ride. (Although I hope they replace the lug nut on the wheel I took a picture of!)
Rosie, my 1961 Corvair Monza is undergoing some engine work (and is the reason for my postponing her COAL) and will be the subject of my next article. I hope you all stay safe and healthy in the meantime!
I had wondered in a comment earlier this week about when the likeness of the Roman messenger-god Mercury disappeared from Mercury cars, something I figured happened about 1969. I had not been aware that he made a reappearance on the wheels of the Marauder. Which is one more reason to like the Marauder.
The fireman is on the seats too.
Ended in 1969? Fortunately no. The Dude (messenger god) also appears on the factory original wheel covers of my 77 Mercury Marquis, but nowhere else.
I personally prefer the Dude logo to the Mercury “three hockey sticks ” logo that the brand received in its final years.
Yeah the Fireman is much better than the Mountains logo, though appropriate for the Mountaineer which was their hot product at the time.
Apparently the previous owner of my Blue Marauder thought so too as he purchased the aftermarket badges to replace the ones on the grille, trunk, steering wheel as well as some of the bubble stickers on the keys.
Unfortunately they are relatively flat compared to the center caps on the wheels.
The decorative aluminum caps on the stock lug nuts are glued onto the steel core. Under heavy braking, they heat up, the glue softens and they loosen and either fall off or come off when wrenched. When that happens the supplied lug wrench is a loose fit on the remaining steel nut, and rounds off the corners of the nut. Don’t ask how I know.
A visit to the auto parts store is in order.
On Fords the cap is Stainless and crimped in place. I’ve got a hundred of them out in the driveway.
And on a lot of cars/trucks in the rust belt the steel nuts rust and swell, and now the socket won’t fit over the expanded stainless steel shell. A common problem to all makes.
Hate hate hate these lugnuts!
Wait, what? You have a Corvair, did I miss that somewhere? Outstanding!
I remember seeing a Marauder once in a while when they were new, but all they do for me is conjure up thoughts of the 1964 version…
Yeah, I asked the same thing! Do tell, P-Fox!
Where we last left off, it was an Elky, but you sold that one if memory serves.
I recently got a Corvair, but after five days of driving, something broke in the engine and she’s at a shop getting fixed :/
The Mercury head logo was pure automotive art and now it serves as a wistful reminder of Mercury’s all-too-short glory days
Not many of those around. Great road cars. If I recall correctly, Ford was tossing around the idea of resurrecting the Galaxy 500 on the Panther body around that same time period.
Ford came up with a Crown Victoria LX Sport that was more or less analogous to the Marauder.
For reasons I don’t even know, I find it a bit more appealing than the Marauder, maybe not trying as hard?
The LX-Sport actually predated the Marauder. The rarest of all Panthers was the Grand Marquis LS-E that was essentially the Mercury Version of the LX-Sport but with 16″ wheels and the HPP air bags.
I made a brief attempt to determine the years the LX Sport was around, and I didn’t find much beyond a few pictures, some labeled 2006. Obscure car. The only reason I recall it was I did at some point see one in a brochure – it would have been the Vicky I would have wanted to buy, good luck finding one on the lot.
You jogged my memory that something like the MGM LS-E was out there, but without your comment, I never would have thought of it.
I think you win the Internet for the day with that reference.
It depends on how you want to count them. Ford called it the LX-Sport 2002-2006 but it was available as the 5 passenger sport appearance package in mid 2001. In 2007-2008 they called it the LX premium sport handling and performance package.
Total numbers I’ve seen show that 14,777 of them were made compared to 11,052 Marauders and 8,777 LS-E but that number does not include the 2001 cars that like the Crown Vics were sold as a package rather than a trim and it was dropped in 2005.
So yeah the LX-Sport was the most common of the bucket seat/console Panthers.
The Marauder and the LX Sport may have been analogous as far as the “sportiest”, and probably had the same suspension parts and similar (if not the same) bucket seat/console interior.
The one thing the Maruader had that never came on the CV was the DOHC 4.6L engine. That was exclusive to the Marauder for Panther cars.
The Marauder console was indeed the same as used on the LX-Sport and LS-E. The seats were from the Town Car, with a better grade of Leather on the Marauder compared to the others.
The LS-E got the full HPP package while the LX-Sport received the base rear air springs as they felt the 55 series tires on 17″ would be too harsh with the stiffer bags.
The Maraduer got the HPP bags and bars but P71 front springs.
So all had different suspension packages even though most of the components were shared.
For a very short while you could order 3.55 gears in the LX-Sport, but not on the LS-E and of course that was what was standard on the Marauder. That means the quickest off the line is a properly equipped LX-Sport.
Instead, they went with Five Hundred on that next gen Taurus
A Galaxie 500 Panther with the same motor? I would have bought one!
The final iterations of the B-body Impala SS worked for me, and I still find them interesting. At the time the Panther Marauder was new, the decade old cop car body was too much for me to get past and find the car exciting. Even the fact that Chevy had done this years earlier took some of the uniqueness out of it. I’d have rather had a plain old high trim Grand Marquis for its function as an old school luxury car vs. the Marauder.
Too little, too late, too old. The market’s reaction to this car was about the same as mine.
Now, if you were to offer me me this – make it burgundy please…..
Compared to the Impala SS, the Marauder really felt like Ford phoned it in. I test drove one at the time and was underwhelmed. It had a Grand Marquis interior with some white-faced gauges and fake carbon fiber tacked on. It had overly aggressive throttle tip-in, presumably to make it feel faster than it really was, but in practice just made it hard to launch smoothly.
Now if Ford had actually made a production version of the Marauder convertible they paraded around the car shows, that would have been a different story.
The engineers did not phone in the Marauder, the Bean Counters killed it.
4.10 gears, nope won’t meet CAFE targets in that weight class. Never mind that the rear tire height was based on 4.10 gears.
Want an Aluminum trunk lid so you can get it in a lower weight class and still run 4.10 gears, nope too expensive.
Shift points calibrated for the 3.55 gears, nope CAFE
Unique H-pipe appropriately sized for the engine’s output potential, Nope you have to use that same 2″ pipe from 1992 designed to bring the 190 horse 2v up to 210.
Different wheels sizes front and rear, nope, too expensive.
Unique springs, nope, see the parts bin.
Unique sway bars, nope, see the parts bin.
And that’s why most turned away from the Marauder and it doesn’t have nearly the cache that say the last Impala SS (B-Body) did. All of that caused the Marauder to have mediocre acceleration. All the magazines that tested them wanted it to be a bad ass hot rod (like the Impala), but it just wasnt. It wasn’t exciting. The contemporary Honda Accord beat it off the line.
I have to agree with you Magnum. I drove the Marauder when new, and was totally underwhelmed by it. I was hoping to make it my new Mercury, but it just didn’t impress me. After driving my in-law’s Crown Vics, I maybe had too high of expectations for the car, thinking it would be a true Impala SS competitor.
The shadow of the Impala SS had a serious impact on the Marauder. As I recall, reviews at the time mostly said “nice try, but not as good as the SS.” Despite being ten years older and with less horsepower the Impala SS had more torque, stronger acceleration, better gearing, more interior space, and handled about the same. As the former owner of a Caprice 9c1 I’ve always mind of liked the panthers, but I know I would be disappointed if I drive one.
Correction, the Marauder 4.6 DOHC was used in the Lincoln Aviator, the Navigator used the iron block 5.4 DOHC
I had kind of love hate feelings with the Marauder, the little tweaks and changes visually made it a much nicer looking car than the 98+ panthers looked(which I personally think were a severe downgrade from the 92-97s), and even the interior was a nice step up, it was a cool touch using genuine autometer gauges in the console area. But it still felt like a belated answer to the long departed Impala SS and the abundance of police and taxis just diluted the image too much for me to be a Panther fan, even if it was the ultimate version of it. Also as good of an engine the 4.6 DOHC is it’s not known for its torque, and in a 4200lb car it really doesn’t have much musclecar sensation, and because they were automatic only Ford saw fit to lower the rev limit almost 1000rpm from the Manual trans Mach 1s where these engines will happily scream to. Rumor has it they were supposed to be equipped with 4.10 gears to make up for the low end but got nixed for the resulting fuel economy hit
I’ve owned my 2003 Marauder since purchased brand new. I reprogrammed the Main ECU for faster shift points, acceleration, installed slightly oversized tires, better brake pads, rotors, with upgraded suspension.
The vehicle rides like a dream road car, averages 20 mpg at 80 mph, accelerated very well and stops on a dime. Probably one of the better quality controlled production vehicles ever.
I smile everyone I drive it!
One of the great things about the Panther cars (and essentially any car produced for quite a long time)… the quality of the cars were really high because not much had changed in quite a long time. Both of my compact Fords (92 Tempo GLS and 93 Topaz) were the same high quality cars with very few issues. But they had essentially been unchanged since the 1988 redesign, and even the basics were the same since 1984.
I had a 2004 P71 that had been a dept. of customs vehicle, clean, low miles. With a very few mods it performed much better than stock. I would guess similar treatment on one of these would be a massive transformation.
People underestimate or dismiss out of prejudice the relative potential of the 4.6. No its not a LS type of V8 engine platform that allows for 1000 horsepower buildups that 99% of car enthusiasts dream of but never achieve, but it does wake up well with supporting modifications. When I had a PI SOHC in my Cougar I ran consistent 14.2s@91 with it in full street trim, 3.55 gears, dual exhaust(which was quite crappy at the time with nasty compression bends) Marauder torque converter, j-modded 4R70w and a tune. Not bad for a 3900lb boat that ran 15.8 seconds bone stock. Had I stuck with it I’m certain I could have had in in the mid-high 13s with some further massaging, that’s still averagely quick by today’s standards, and it got 28mpg on the interstate getting to the track!
Yeah getting rid of the choke point in the exhaust, the 2″ H-pipe uncorks a lot of power and the switch to 4.10 gears results in much quicker acceleration.
You’ll laugh—or cry—but for just a moment, when I first spied P Fox’s bright red Corvair above, I wasn’t sure which end was which. Come on, you’ll say—how could that be ? Never saw one before ?
Of course I’ve seen one before—ever since the model was new. But check this: couldn’t that B pillar be the A pillar of a new car ? Aren’t windshields canted about like that, these days ? And is that rear overhang much different from what we see now at the front, what with FWD and all ?
So shoot me—but that’s what I saw, for just a moment there. Thanks for the lesson, Rosie !
CC Effect strikes again, when I was out and about a Marauder was coming the other way. Of course as usual I wasn’t driving mine when I saw it. In all the sightings I’ve only been driving mine once or twice.
I’d love to be able to roll my own Panther. Take a 2003-up P71 rack&pinion chassis,
a 32V, a 1992-97 6-Window Crown Vic body with the smooth ’92 front cap, an LX Sport interior, that’s the ultimate for me.
In 2003 I bought a dark blue Sport Vic with a grey interior; I loved that car. In 2005 I married and we lived in Chicago and my wife wouldn’t drive the Vic in the city so we bought a CTS, which was very nice but the Vic was way cooler.
Amusingly, I had a 2006 LX Sport, and my wife loved driving it. Granted, she was predisposed to liking RWD V8 cars (she owned a Mustang and a Thunderbird before we met), but one additional reason she liked driving it was because she felt it was the world’s most “un-chick car.” Really, how often have you seen a woman driving an LX Sport?
We kept the Crown Vic for about 12 years, but despite putting on only 75,000 miles, we had a lot of problems with it. It’s the lowest-mileage car I’ve ever sold.
I thought that this same engine was used in a version of the Mustang. Maybe not. I seem to recall a Ford Crown Victoria version of the Marauder that was under consideration for production, I think it might have been called the “Crown Victoria Fire Arrow” or something like that. There was even talk of installing this same engine in the Lincoln Town Car. But the poor sales of the Marauder cancelled those plans.