Classic CARmentary: 1999 Mercury Grand Marquis LS

Another in a series of my reviews that appeared in the online version of African Americans On Wheels, a now defunct automotive magazine that was included as an insert in the Sunday newspapers of major cities.

As much as I’d like to take the credit for the 2003 Marauder, which had nearly everything from my wish list at the end of the review, it really was the car everyone was expecting from Ford after Chevy brought back the Impala SS.  Unfortunately, it took Ford as long to respond to that car as it took Chevy to respond to the Taurus (with the 1995 Lumina).  And when they finally did do it, it wasn’t nearly as fast and far more expensive.  Car & Driver was underwhelmed, and so were buyers.

As for the regular Grand Marquis, it soldiered on mostly unchanged for another dozen years.  Around 2005, I had a co-worker who was in her late twenties or early thirties that had one, and I asked her if she had a livery business on the side.  She seemed a little insulted and told me that she likes having a big, safe, solid body-on-frame car with V8 power.  “More (or less) power to you” I thought.  

The following review was written on July 11, 1999.

I looked at it, key in hand, and suddenly felt this urge to tell somebody about my grandchildren, even though I don’t even have children. It seems odd that anybody still makes these cars: DC dumped theirs after 1989, and GM after 1996. But Ford doggedly builds its body-on-frame, rear-drive, V8 sedans in Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis, and Lincoln Town Car guises. Consequently, Ford has the police and taxi business pretty much to themselves.

Aside from a slight tweaking last year, the Grand Marquis hasn’t changed much in the last eight years. It’s big, elegant, and proud. Inside is classic Americana: flat bench seat, expansive dash with no console, and column-mounted shifter. The gauges are digital, something that I hadn’t realized was still around, but they are clearly visible even on bright, sunny days. Furthermore, just like in the good ‘ole days, the steering is feather light.

So, I drive away expecting that wallowing, boatlike, total-isolation-from-the-outside-world feeling. Suddenly, I’m feeling all of these little imperfections in the road. What’s going on here? Then I threw it into the first turn, and even though the bench seat tossed me around like the Scrambler, the tires didn’t break loose from the pavement. I took the next turn even harder; same story. The next maneuver did cause the tires to slip, but the optional traction control system immediately set things right. It seems that Mercury slipped me a Grand Marquis with the handling package, which includes a slightly revised suspension, “handling” tires, and a dual exhaust system. Bizarre.

But on the smooth highway, you’re back in Kansas. Acceleration is adequate. Back seat room and trunk space are about as big as you’ll find. Everything’s kind of quiet and serene.

But I couldn’t help thinking: Why stop here? Aren’t there several versions of the V8 sitting in Ford’s stable with over 300-horsepower? How difficult would it be to throw in bucket seats, Mustang steering wheel, console shifter, remove the chrome, and dust off the old “Marauder” nameplate? Maybe I’m just too young to appreciate this car for what it is.

Wouldn’t it be fun, though?

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Type: Four-Door Sedan
Engine: 215-horsepower, 4.6 liter V8
Transmission: Four-speed Automatic
EPA Mileage: 17 city/25 highway
Tested Price: $28,225