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Mercury is a domestic automaker and a division of Ford Motor Company. The Mercury brand is marketed as being somewhat more upscale than Ford; it applies unique styling details and special features to its vehicles as a way of enhancing their desirability relative to similar Ford products.

In the 1930s, Edsel Ford, Henry Ford's son, saw an opportunity to create an additional brand within the Ford hierarchy, one that would slot vehicles between the everyman Ford Deluxes and premium Lincoln Zephyrs. To achieve this, Edsel felt the vehicles of this new brand should offer distinctive styling along with innovative features and better capabilities. He named the new division "Mercury," after the Roman mythological god. The 1939 Mercury Eight was the division's first car. It distinguished itself from similar Ford products thanks to a 95-horsepower engine that offered 10 more horses than the Ford V8.

The Eight proved to be a hit, with more than 155,000 sold by the early 1940s. Production stopped during World War II; after the war, the Mercury brand was realigned more closely with Lincoln. The company grew from strength to strength in the '50s, establishing itself as a home of vehicles offering style, performance and cutting-edge technology. A dash of glamour was added to the automaker's image when James Dean appeared onscreen in a Mercury car in the film Rebel Without A Cause.

The 1960s saw the introduction of Mercury's Comet and Meteor vehicles. The Comet featured diminutive dimensions and luxury accoutrements, while the Meteor was a midsize family car that followed the trend toward more reasonably sized cars. Racetrack wins boosted awareness of the Comet and helped the model make a big splash in terms of sales. By the end of the decade, the iconic Mercury Cougar, a variation of the Mustang, had been rolled out, taking its place in the pantheon of legendary early muscle cars.

Hit hard by that decade's oil crisis, consumers during the 1970s were hungry for smaller vehicles that offered improved fuel efficiency. Mercury created vehicles like the Capri and the Bobcat to fill this need. Mercury cars were well received, and its sales grew during a decade that was filled with turbulence and uncertainty for many competing marques. The brand took a stab at broadening its consumer base in the '80s by diversifying and expanding its lineup, which grew to include vehicles like the subcompact Lynx. Mercury enjoyed success with the 1986 launch of the Sable, a fraternal twin to the Ford Taurus whose sleek, aerodynamic lines served to diminish drag and improve fuel efficiency.

Minivans and SUVs came into their own during the 1990s, and Mercury made the most of these trends by introducing its Villager minivan and Mountaineer SUV. The brand's sales hit an all-time high during this decade that hasn't been matched since.

The past few years have been challenging for the Mercury brand, as changing consumer tastes and a lack of differentiation between Mercury and Ford vehicles have hurt sales. Pundits have often proclaimed the end of Mercury is near, but Ford, as the new millennium takes hold, seems intent on keeping the brand, and Edsel's original vision, alive. Today, Mercury's vehicle lineup and consumer base are small, but the brand remains a respectable pick for buyers seeking luxury vehicles that are born and bred in the U.S.A.



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[Source: Edmund's ]


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