Last post on Feb 26, 2011 at 5:29 AM
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Mercury Milan, Mercury Montego, Mercury Mariner Hybrid
#301 of 308 Re: Which brand to axe? [propwash49]
Jun 04, 2010 (7:09 am)
I find it interesting that Ford chose to give Mercury (their middle-range brand) the axe, while Chrysler dumped Plymouth (their low-end marque.)
That's due partly to Chrysler's dealer structure. Up through 1959, there were few, if any, stand-alone Plymouth dealers. They were almost always sold through Dodge, DeSoto, or Chrysler-Imperial dealers. Heck, one store local to me sold all 5 brands at one time!
However, in 1960, Chrysler changed their divisional structure. Dodge became a stand-alone division, while Plymouth and DeSoto were merged in with Chrysler-Imperial. Since Dodge dealers would no longer have Plymouths to sell, the Dart was introduced to fill that gap. This was not the compact Dart that most people think of, but a full-sized car that competed directly with Plymouth, Ford, and Chevy. Even the advertising for the Dart mentioned the Plymouth as a competitor!
Another problem with this divisional structure was that Dodge got to get almost any new model it wanted, while at Chrysler-Plymouth, if it was a cheap model, it came out as a Plymouth, while if it was a nicer model, it came out as a Chrysler. This actually worked out pretty well through the 1960's, as there was still a pretty big gap between the cheapest Chryslers and the biggest Plymouths. Competitors like Buick, Olds, and Mercury fielded compact and intermediate cars, but Mopar left those for Plymouth. Chrysler division built nothing but full-sized cars through the 1960's, and its models were larger and roomier than Plymouth's full-sized models.
However, in the 1970's, Plymouth started missing out. For example, as personal luxury coupes became all the rage, Mopar responded with the Dodge Charger S/E and the Chrysler Cordoba. No Plymouth version was offered. When more upscale compacts hit the market, again, it was the Dodge Diplomat and Chrysler LeBaron, with no Plymouth version. Now, these cars were just gussied up Volares and Aspens, and Plymouth did have a nice model called the Volare Premier. But, those LeBarons and Diplomats were definitely a step up at the time...or at least, presented the illusion of it!
For 1979, Chrysler half-heartedly downsized its full-sized cars. Dodge got the St. Regis, while Chrysler got the Newport and New Yorker, but Plymouth got nothing. Actually, for 1979, Plymouth division was essentially down to just two models, the Horizon and the Volare! And this was supposed to be Mopar's "volume" line, to compete with Ford and Chevy! The lineup was fleshed out with a few captive imports like the Plymouth Colt and Champ, and the larger Sapporo. And there were even a few Plymouth-badged trucks and vans during that timeframe. Still, Plymouth was missing out on the more profitable midsize, fullsize, and personal luxury coupe market.
Plymouth did finally get a full-sized car for 1980, the Gran Fury, but it was sold mainly to police, taxi, and other fleet buyers. And in 1980, with the second fuel crisis coming on strong, full sized cars suddenly weren't so profitable anymore.
In the 1980's, with the introduction of the K-car, we got some pretty small Chryslers, and some pretty cheap ones too, which really cut into Plymouth territory. Dodge was still usually getting a version of everything, cheap AND nice, while at C-P, Plymouth was increasingly relegated to the cheap models, while the nice and even not-so-nice models were badged as Chryslers. And this kept going on right up until the end, when the final Plymouth, a 2001 base Neon, rolled out the door and into history.
Dodge was supposed to be a "step up" division, along the lines of Pontiac or Mercury, but over the years, it increasingly became Chrysler's volume Ford/Chevy fighter. Dodge was also around long before Chrysler Corporation was even founded. In fact, the first Fords used engines manufactured by none other than the Dodge Brothers! So that might be one reason why Chrysler stuck it out with Dodge...more heritage. Plymouth was thought up after the merger of Chrysler and Dodge, a car to compete with Ford and Chevy.
#303 of 308 Re: Farewell, Mercury. [lemko]
Jun 04, 2010 (7:27 am)
Oh wow, I never knew they did a convertible concept of the 2004 Marauder! Truthfully, I don't think that body style lends itself all that well to being a coupe or convertible, but it's still kinda cool! Wish they had made it available to the public!
#305 of 308 Re: Farewell, Mercury. [lemko]
Jun 04, 2010 (8:25 am)
Nice set of pictures.
My favorites would be the 1939 Merc 8, 49-51 (James Dean movie had a custom Merc of this vintage), 99 Merc Cougar, 04 Marauder, Meta One Concept. The 57-60 era of cars had bizzare designs. Of all the rest, the Ford or Lincoln designs were purer than the Mercury "makeovers". These makeovers were either bland or obviously a patch job of a Ford or Lincoln (big sedans). Not much original design to distinguish the Mercury brand.
Now Ford Company can redirect resources, funds from a mediocre Mercury brand to a revitalized Ford brand and a hoped for resurgence of Lincolns of the past. Didn't Lincolns do well in factory supported "stock" car racing on public roads back in 40's or 50's in Mexico and/or Latin America?
#306 of 308 Re: Which brand to axe? [andre1969]
Jun 04, 2010 (7:45 pm)
Is it me or how much did Plymouth have to do in a lot of those years? I mean if Chrysler covered the rest I would think the dealers would be fine. How many stand alone Plymouth dealers were there? (I do know of one that was exactly that probably from when DeSoto died until well into the 80s at least. Used to advertise as the oldest Plymouth dealer in the world. Technically he was correct because he didn't count Chrysler-Plymouth dealers. What used to be his place is now an Irish pub. For a while it was a Boston Market.
#307 of 308 Plymouth Oldsmobile Mercury
Jun 04, 2010 (9:39 pm)
They slash the best...
I have owned and appreciated all three.
#308 of 308 Got a Mercury? Get a coupon.
by Stever@Edmunds HOST
Feb 26, 2011 (5:29 am)
You need to live in the Midwest too.
"Ford Motor Co. is offering some Mercury vehicle owners $500 toward the purchase of a new Ford vehicle and as much as $1,500 to buy a Lincoln as the auto maker looks to retain customers after dissolving the brand last year."
Ford Seeks to Shift Mercury Owners to its Other Brands (Wall St. Journal).