Curbside Classic Capsule: 1978 Mercury Marquis Brougham – Purple Haze Edition

In a profound Freudian analysis, my esteemed colleague and noted Mercurophile Jason Shafer has revealed the multiple personality disorder of the big Mercury Marquis, depending in large part on its color and setting. A sort of automotive chameleon, we might say. But I’m afraid due to his location in the great Midwest, he’s not been exposed to one of the more extreme manifestations of this disorder: The Purple Haze Edition. Targeted to aging rock stars (and wanna’ bees) in the late ’70s, it was only sold in a few very select West and East Coast locations.

Given Eugene’s role as something of a second home to the Grateful Dead and a more permanent home to many of the band’s followers, it was not all-too surprising to run into this very rare example downtown back in 2009. Why it’s taken me so long to write it up here is something of a mystery, but then Mercuries work in mysterious ways.

Let’s get one detail out of the way right off: no, this purple Mercury was not colorized via Photoshop or such. It’s the real deal. A bit too much so, actually. Is “Brougham” more important than the name? Apparently so.

No one would dare paint over the Marquis’ heraldic crest. This identifies the Marquis as a true noble, and not just some pretender.

You think old hippies didn’t go in for big American cars? Eugene’s own celebrated Ken Keysey, one of the proto-hippies, drove an early ’90’s Buick Roadmaster Estate wagon around town in his later years.  Much more comfortable than his old psychedelic school bus Further.

There’s an awful lot to like here. The overarching question is where to start…and where to end.


CC 1974 Mercury Marquis: The Costume Makes the Character  J.Shafer