Curbside Classic: 1990 Mercury Grand Marquis GS – An All-American Classic

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(first posted 7/4/2014)    What says classic American more than V8 power, rear-wheel drive, and body-on-frame construction with a front bench seat, lots of chrome, and a vinyl landau roof? While this may not be everyone’s definition of “old school American”, it’s cars like this 1990 Mercury Grand Marquis that continued to offer more traditional virtues of American cars in the face of the growing number of imports from Europe and Asia.

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Today, the clean exterior styling looks classical, but not gaudy. The Grand Marquis was always a big seller for Mercury up until the end. Despite dating back to 1979, this generation still sold over 70,000 units for both 1990 and 1991. There are still a fairly decent amount of pre-1992 “square” Panthers on the road, but I usually don’t see many in such a vivacious (and rather patriotic, I may add) color. I believe its official name was “Currant Red”.

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Grand Marquis’ were treated to a minor dashboard redesign in 1990, relocating the climate control to the upper portion, between the center air vents. The overall straight-edged look of the dash remained, however. The Grand Marquis was no place for a driver’s-oriented “cockpit” dash. A driver’s side airbag and rear shoulder belts were also added to comply with ever-stricter safety standards. With the new “aero” Grand Marquis’ arriving for 1992, there weren’t any noticeable changes for ’91. Looking at the VIN number is really the only way to determine this one’s year, and I forgot to check this time.

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The exterior of this car was quite stunning, with its bright red paint and chrome trim glistening in the morning sun. While not one-hundred percent perfect, the only significant flaw on this quarter-century year-old Mercury was some lower-body corrosion behind the rear wheels. Speaking of wheels, these elegant turbine wheels are among my favorite wheel on any car, historic or modern.

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Although an officially-named “Brougham” model was last sold in 1982, the Grand Marquis continued to offer “Broughamy” attributes long after and well into the new millennium.

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Among more thoughtful classical touches, included its elegant but not oversized chrome waterfall grille and a stand-up hood ornament…

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And electroluminescent opera lamps.

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Once inside, occupants were greeted with a fully color-keyed interior that was often matched to the exterior color. Twin-comfort lounge seats, power seats, power windows, power locks, and power mirrors were all standard across the board by 1990. Plush velour fabric was standard on the Grand Marquis, while leather with vinyl trim was optional. And if for some reason you forgot you were in a full-size American car, a column shifter, “casket handle” door pull straps, and lots of plasti-wood trim were also standard.

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The lack of a trailer hitch indicates that this Grand Marquis is powered by the venerable 5.0L Windsor V8, making 150 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. The optional trailer tow package boosted horses and torque by ten each.

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As many have attested here before, the rear seat space was one of the Panthers’ many strong points. One could sit back, sink in and stretch out, encompassed in rich, pillowy velour.

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The name “Marquis” first appeared on a Mercury in 1967. Eventually becoming both a “Grand Marquis” and a full-fledged model, this historic nameplate spanned almost a half-century, before its quiet end along with the Mercury brand in 2011. While it may not have achieved the same success in the public sector as its Crown Victoria and Town Car siblings, the Grand Marquis always remained a popular “civilian” choice for those wanting traditional American, big-car qualities.

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Related Reading: 1989 Mercury Grand Marquis LS