Edsel Ford, Henry Ford's son, launched the Mercury brand. His goal was to outshine his father's "everyman" Ford and yet appeal to those who could not afford the luxurious Lincoln. Edsel Ford's desire was to unite the sensibility of Ford with innovative features and stylized designs. His first attempt at expanding the brand was in 1935 with the Ford Falcon. Because he did not see how this car could fit in with the Ford brand, he decided to create an entirely new division, Mercury, which he named after the mythological Roman god. Edsel's first entry-level luxury car was the Mercury Eight crafted in 1939. It outperformed Ford vehicles with its 95-horsepower engine and extra wide body and it distinguished itself from Ford with its 116-inch wheelbase. The Eight was priced at $916 and the brand sold 65,800 automobiles in its first year alone.
Mercury Through the Years
From the beginning, Mercury was intent on building its brand in the North American auto market even though the company lost its momentum in recent years. Throughout its long history, Mercury was originally created as a division of Ford with a high commitment to performance. During its tenure, it would compete with rivals such as Oldsmobile, Chrysler, and Buick, especially during the 1950s to the 1980s.
Mercury continued to succeed while consistently filling voids in the market. In the 1980s, it introduced compact cars to meet consumer needs along with minivans in the 1990s. Even though the move proved to be successful, Mercury struggled in the 21st century. Lack of consumer demand and distinguished features between Mercury and Ford left the brand in a financial slump. Consumers were not inclined to open their wallets and pay for an altered Ford with a higher price tag. Due to this decline, Mercury ceased operations in June 2010.
Starting with the Mercury Eight (which Ford ultimately sold more than 155,000 vehicles), the brand experienced much success in its infancy. Though production came to a halt during World War II, manufacturing resumed afterward and continued to grow as Mercury aligned itself more with the ideals of the luxurious Lincoln vehicles.
In the 1960s, Mercury introduced the Comet, a car appealing to the higher-classes. In the same year, Mercury also introduced the Meteor, a midsize car for the family that needed a comfortable, roomy car with high performance. Mercury also revealed its iconic Cougar toward the end of the decade, a car that is a close relative of the Mustang.
The 1970s auto consumer market desired compact vehicles, which were more fuel efficient. Mercury met consumer expectations once again by introducing its first compact cars, the Capri and, later, the Bobcat. The 1980s proved to be a promising decade for Mercury with its new lineup of cars such as the subcompact Lynx and the Sable, which closely resembled the Ford Taurus.
In the 1990s, minivans and sport utility vehicles were on the rise and Mercury responded to the competition by introducing the Villager minivan and Mountaineer SUV. As a result of the popularity of these two new additions, the 1990s were successful for Mercury.
Mercury Products and Technologies
Mercury had a lot of success due to innovations and commitment to safety. In the 1950s, Mercury's Turnpike Cruiser became popular for its newest state-of-the-art features such as the power rear window, adjustable seats called the "Seat-O-Matic," and an automatic transmission called the "Merc-O-Matic".
Throughout its long history, Mercury pleased consumers as it stayed on top of new technologies and features. The 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid received rave reviews for its application of the technology and overall pleasurable driving experience.
From James Dean and his black Mercury coupe in "Rebel Without a Cause" to countless consumers who value the name "Mercury," the American-born brand will always be known for its commitment to style, high performance and technology developments.