The 1969 Mercury Marauder exemplifies the tradition of big 1960s performance cars that kept similar models in production even when sales had long since tapered off. Mercury maintained a token presence in this limited market through 1967 with various S-55s, and many thought those large, sporty Mercurys would be the last of their breed. Two years later, however, the Big M released another big bruiser, this one invoking the hallowed Marauder name.
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It was, to say the least, poorly timed. Not only had the performance action long since shifted to the mid-size ranks, but soaring insurance rates and more government-mandated safety and emissions standards promised to sap all Detroit performance cars, regardless of size. The reborn Marauder was thus doomed to fail.
As a car, though, this Marauder succeeded. Essentially it was a "Mercuryized" version of Ford's fully redesigned 1969 XL, with an identical wheelbase that was three inches shorter than on other big Mercurys. Lincoln-Mercury didn't bother with a convertible like Ford, contenting itself with a hardtop coupe in base and pricier X-100 trim.
Mercury's top-shelf Marquis donated a hidden-headlamp "power dome" front, while a flying buttress roofline with upright "tunneled" backlight were shared with the Ford. X-l00s sported styled wheels and rear fender skirts (both optional on the base model) plus matte-black "sports tone" rear-deck finish. The latter could be deleted for credit or by ordering the extra-cost vinyl roof.
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With abundant front-seat room, decent rear-cabin space, and cavernous 18 cubic-foot trunk, the Marauder was a perfect long-haul mile-eater. But so were other big Mercurys, and price competition was fierce.
Though 1969 Marauder starting prices were attractively low at $3,368 for the base version and $4,091 for the X-100, delivered prices broke $5,000 with air and other popular options -- only $1,000 or so below the likes of Ford Thunderbird, Buick Riviera, and Oldsmobile Toronado. Pontiac, meantime, had a smaller, more nimble new Grand Prix starting at just under $3,900. Buyers voted with their wallets and Marauder lost: under 15,000 model-year sales -- barely three percent of total Mercury volume -- versus over 112,000 Grand Prixs.
The Marauder returned for 1970, little changed except for sales, which dropped by more than half (to 6,043 total, including a mere 2,646 X-l00s). Sumo-size sporty cars had by then outlived their usefulness at Mercury and elsewhere, and the Marauder -- despite its appeal -- would never be back, nor even missed.
Go to the next page to learn about the Mercury Marauder's performance.