CC Outtake: 1987 Mercury Grand Marquis – Some Cranberry with the Turkeys

Yesterday’s CC (here) made me hungry, being the same color as a Thanksgiving turkey and all.  So today, some cranberry for a side dish.  Or maybe dessert?

The box Panther (particularly the later ones) is not a turkey in the sense that most of the cars featured here this week have been.  In fact, it may be one of the most durable cars produced in the 1980s, a decade not normally associated with great cars.

In yesterday’s CC, I told you how my oldest son Jimmy is looking for his first car.  So, when I saw this ad in my local newspaper (it’s true!) for an 80,000 mile rust-free survivor, I had to go look, because he would really like one of these.

But even some non-turkeys can become turkeys when you make a 35 minute drive during the middle of a workday to go and see a one of a kind gem that turns out to be something not nearly so nice as described.

The owner’s grandfather had owned it for a long time, but the current owner has had it for about a year and a half, letting it sit outside and hardly driving it.  The car gives the appearance that the current owner has done nothing to the car at all other than to let it sit and deteriorate.

Rust free?  Of course.  Unless you are looking under the doors.  Or on the front fender over the wheel arch.  Or under the deck lid or through the trunk floor or in the rear lower quarters.  In other words, all the places where these cars always got cancer.   The owner boasted a new exhaust system too.  He must have come from a place that defines an exhaust system as starting after the catalytic converters, because from the converters forward, the system was a rusting, leaking mess.

And just ignore the dents in the left rear quarter and both left side doors.  Maybe he just didn’t notice.  And the really good tires were at the place where all of the tire stores tell you is past time to replace them.

Even though there is a website that values the car at over $5000 in collector condition (which this plainly was in the seller’s mind) he was generously offering it to me for only $3,100.  Although the red leather seats were very comfy, I pointed out all of the rusted areas and the need for immediate tires and exhaust work.  I passed on buying the car. My job is not so much to pick a car for Jimmy to buy as his first car as it is to pick what will NOT be his first car.  And you are looking at one of those.

The man had a pretty nice $1200 car that is about one year from becoming a heap for all to see.  Only the dark color has kept it from screaming “I am really, really rusty!”  We were looking for outstanding, and this car did not qualify.  I chalked it all up to a difference in standards.  There are probably a lot of people out there who wold consider this a real creampuff.  And it is certainly nicer than average in this climate and will probably be reliable transportation for somebody.  But I did not get out of a smoking three-colored Cavalier and was led to expect nicer.

And then yesterday, I saw the same car offered online.  It was described as rust-free and having great tires and a new exhaust (and was photographed in a much nicer neighborhood than where I saw the car), maybe there is more than a difference in standards involved here.  It may be the same color as the cranberries, but I know a turkey when I see one.