..at least in the minds of Ford marketers in Europe. This morning’s press release from Ford of Europe highlights a television show tonight (only available in the U.K.) that will feature one of the best Capris of them all, the 1986 Ford Capri 280 “Brooklands” – named for the green color of this limited edition 1038-car production run. This was the last model for the European Capri – and the last true Capri (the next Capri being simply a rebodied Mustang – albeit a good car, and the last being a Mazda 323-based convertible built in Australia).
At this point in the life of the original Capri, the car was becoming dated and needed a replacement – however no development funding was available. The chassis and drivetrain were essentially the same as the original 1st generation car (which itself, like the Falcon chassis to the Mustang, went back even further into the ’60s), although Ford invested in “labor of love” updates all along including a new sleek hatchback body for the second generation, a new front end for the third generation, fuel injection for the V-6 engine, and the option of Recaro seats. However, imports to the North America had ended (where the Capri hardly fit into the Mercury dealer lineup), and the market was moving to front-wheel drive cars.
|Engine||6-Cyl. V-formation at 60 degrees|
|Crankshaft||Four main bearings|
|Bore x Stroke||93mm x 68.5mm (3.66in x 2.70in)|
|Capacity||2972cc (107.4 cu in)|
|Fuel system||Bosch K-Jetronic injection|
|Maximum power||160bhp at 5700rpm|
|Maximum torque||162 lb ft (22.5kgm) at 4300rpm|
|Transmission||Five speed manual, limited slip differential standard|
|Gear Ratios||5th 0.825, 4th 1.00, 3rd 1.26, 2nd 1.81, 1st 3.36, rev 3.37|
|Top gear speed||25.7mph (41.4kmh) per 1000rpm|
|Brakes||Ventilated Front disc / rear drum, servo assisted|
|Wheels / Tyres||7x15in alloy wheels with Pirelli P7 195/50 15 tyres|
|Front Track||53.3in (1353mm)|
|Rear Track||54.5in (1384mm)|
|Unladen weight||2712lb (1230kg)|
|Top speed||130 mph (210kph)|
We’re an original Ford Capri owner ourselves, and were sorry to see the car leave the market. Ford did move quickly into the front wheel drive enthusiast market; one example we were very fortunate to encounter in person was this Escort RS1600i in 1983. It’s where the market went, and stayed. The Focus ST is the direct descendant of the RS1600i, as is the last Focus RS, which we recently found an example of live and in person.
Ford has in the past considered a 2-door version of a rebodied Focus a new Capri, but no known movement is occurring. We’d personally much rather have that than a 4-door Focus ST since we have no use for the extra doors (or length). The market here is driven by Europe, where 2-door hot hatches are rare and of course the economy is in extremely bad condition.
Ford of Europe Press Release follows:
Ford Capri featuring in Jamie Oliver’s Food Fight Club
BRENTWOOD, Essex, 6 December, 2012 – The last Ford Capri ever produced by Ford will feature in Jamie Oliver’s latest TV project – Food Fight Club. Jamie has joined forces with his old friend Jimmy Doherty to take brilliant British food to the Continent in the most entertaining way possible.
Partly filmed in front of an audience in a café on Southend Pier, Essex, the show aims to bring the country together in their love of British food. Jamie has high ambitions for Food Fight Club: “It’s set up to be the most exciting, interesting and funny cooking show ever to be shown on TV.”
The Ford ‘Brooklands’ Capri was chosen by Jamie since he and Jimmy have been friends since the 1980s and despite having a Ford Fiesta, the Ford Capri was the car that they both aspired to when they were growing up together in Essex.
Developed by the then Ford Special Vehicle Engineering (SVE) division at the Dunton Technical Centre in Essex, the Ford Capri 280 was limited to a production run of 1,038 units. It has a five-speed, manual transmission and a 2,792cc V6 OHV engine capable of propelling the coupé to a top speed of 127 mph.
Food Fight Club airs tonight on C4.
# # #
The great thing about a Cars and Coffee event is the wide variety of cars you’ll see there. The show is “non-denominational” – meaning it’s not limited to exotic or muscle cars at all and you’ll find all kinds of cars (and even military vehicles) to suit every possible interest. In November 2012, for example, we found a fascinating example of a 60s French sports car in the Matra Bonnet Djet V S. Where else would you find one of these, much less one that was driven to and from the event?
One of the interesting cars we found in the December 2012 event was this 1968 Mercury Cougar. It’s one of several Cougars we’ve seen in the show over the years, including a 1970 Boss 302 Cougar Eliminator with a factory Boss 302 package. And just last month it was a 1970 Cougar XR-7 that closely resembled our own 1970 Cougar XR-7.
We liked this 1968 Cougar – a lot – and in fact if it had been for sale we would have bought it on the spot.
As our Ford fanatics readers know, the Cougar was built on a slightly elongated Mustang chassis with all-new (and very different) sheetmetal. Mechanical options were identical (although V-8 only), as was the front and side glass and the interior instruments (in a unique dashboard). But the intent of the Cougar was as an upmarket alternative to the Mustang. The emphasis was on personal luxury, although performance models were offered as well.
Sometimes derided as the “electric shaver grill”, the vertical bars and hide-away headlamps made the Cougar unique and distinctive. The lights are controlled by a vacuum tank, which is prone to rust but which can also be easily repaired. A similar system was used on the 1968 Ford Thunderbird.
1968 was the first year for the new “Windsor” iron black and head OHV 302 cubic inch (4.9 liter) engine that would serve duty in numerous Ford, Lincolns, and Mercurys up thru 2002 Australian Falcons. This engine family began in 1962 with a 221 cubic inch version, followed by 255, 260, and 289 cubic inch versions. By 1968, only the 302 remained in production, (although some 289s were left over in Mustangs). A taller deck height version of this engine stretched displacement to 351 cubic inches in 1969 and was found in many Ford Motor Company vehicles, culminating in the 1995 Mustang SVT Cobra R. The optional engine during 1967 and 1968 was a 390-cubic V-8, and a very limited number were built with 427 cubic inch V-8s.
Rust problems abound in early Cougars and Mustangs. One of the most nefarious issues, found in out own 1967 Mustang, was the inner fender liners rusting underneath the hood hinges. The force of the hood hinge springs would compound the problem. If you spot one of these cars with the trailing edge of the hood slight raised, this is a telltale sign. Fortunately, this Cougar had almost immaculate inner fenders and was very clearly well taken care of. The shock towers are also very clean.
Note the rare factory air conditioning. One option this Cougar doesn’t have unfortunately, is front disc brakes (drums were still standard). Our ’67 Mustang had both aircon and front disc brakes, as well as the very rare K-code engine. Our ’70 Cougar XR-7 had both aircon and disc brakes, along with a 351.
The interior is a stylish mix of Mustang parts (speedo to the left and aux gauges to the right), along with aircon vents and controls, steering wheel, shifter, and window cranks) and up-level trim in the unique dashboard and door panels.
Likewise, the seats were Mustang underneath but with much better trim and unique colors. In some later ’68s, not this example, headrests were introduced before they became Federally mandated the following year.
The rear end of the Cougar was also unique, and featured a vertical bar motif to match the front. However, the taillights were sequential. In turns the lights would start in the middle of the car and move outward in the direction of the turn. Unfortunately, the electronic module that controlled the sequencing was mounted in the lower left hand side of the trunk, behind the wheels, in an area prone to rust. In our own Cougar, this module because water-logged from water kicked up thru the rust holes at the bottom of the fenders. Our sequencing stopped working, causing us to fail inspection one year at a nearby Lincoln-Mercury dealer. When we simply unplugged the faulty module to make the lights work conventionally, the dealer denied us a pass anyway on the basis that the car didn’t come that way. Ridiculous – and we just went elsewhere to get a pass and kept the car like that until we located another module. Nowadays, hese are easily and routinely repaired.
The November 2012 Cars and Coffee in Austin Texas dawned bright and cold… but attendance by car enthusiasts was as strong as always. Here’s an example of one car that we hadn’t seen at an Austin Cars and Coffee before: a 1970 Mercury Cougar XR-7.
The 1970 Cougar was a slight update of the 1969 model. The 1969 and 1970 models are technically thought of as first generation-Cougars, but are in fact very different and much more advanced than the earlier 1967 and 1968 Cougars - even though they share the chassis. 1969 brought an entirely new and unrelated body, and also increases in width, length, and weight.
We were drawn to this familiar and well-preserved 1970 model because of our own 1970 Cougar XR-7. The XR-7 featured up-market wheel hubcaps; these modern aftermarket aluminum “mags” are keeping to the original period but are not related to any factory option.
The interior is a considerable step up from the previous year Cougar, and again makes use of Mustang switch gear, gauges, steering wheel (rim-blow), and seats. This particular Cougar has the full-leather interior in black. Our own XR-7 had the combination cloth and leather interior, in two shades of brown/tan, with a hounds-tooth cloth pattern. We also had the power windows that this car is lacking.
The ’70 Cougar featured a more prominent center grill and matching bumper. The center grill raises with the hood for 1970. The center grill would be even more exaggerated in the next-generation 1971-1973 models. Hide-away headlamp covers are in their last year in 1970.
The leading edge of the fender, a cap mounted to the fender, is less pointed than the 1969 model. The signature vertical bars remain, a combination chrome and black in all models except the Eliminator where they were solid black.
Here we see the first appearance in the Cougar of the 351 “Cleveland” engine. The Cleveland engine offered a wide range of improvements over the older Windsor engine, and considerably improved breathing due to an entirely new cylinder head design. The head was, however, interchangeable with the older Windsor design, a combination of which yielded the “Boss 302″ engine.
This Cougar is in a handsome and very desirable blue color. Our own Cougar was in a similarly handsome light metallic brown. We haven’t seen a Cougar in either of these colors for many years. Note the grill attached to the hood – watch your head!
Cougar XR-7 badge, located on the C-pillar
Interior on the passenger side. The clock in front of the passenger was borrowed from the Mustang and with a start/stop button could be used to get a rough time when racing. The Hurst shifter is non-standard, although a manual-transmission Cougar is a very rare animal.
The Marauder Convertible Concept, which premiered at the Chicago Auto Show in 2002, has just resurfaced on eBay. For only $75,000 USD, this concept can be yours – providing you don’t mind that it can’t be registered for the street and that it likely doesn’t have an actual top (at least a picture has never been shown of it).
The concept is a converted 1999 Crown ‘Vic LX, shorted and converted to 2 doors, along with the swap of the production Marauder body pieces and interior. It also has a 4.6 liter 2-valve engine with a factory supercharger. This prototype engine was intended for the 2005 production Marauder, which was of course cancelled, and also for the S197 Mustang – just another part of that car which was cancelled (including the 4.6 DOHC supercharged engine as an option in the GT, the independent rear suspension, and of course the actual SVT Cobra model before it was dumbed-down and tarted up as the solid-axle Shelby with an iron block engine).
We have a complete gallery of images of the Marauder Convertible Concept, including the original introduction images from Ford as well as images of the car as shown in eBay when it went up for sale in September 2011. The images also include two of the engine, the only time this particular engine was shown in public. It was, however, discussed at the time by the Marauder product planner, who revealed that it would replace the 4.6 4V DOHC engine for the 2005 model year in order to provide more low-end power and torque – something the DOHC Marauder was conspicuously missing.
For extensive Marauder coverage on the DrivingEnthusiast network, see:
- Blog tag “Marauder” (where you’ll find the story of our encounter with a Marauder prototype on the cold streets of Dearborn)
- Our concept section (detailing over 150 concepts from Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury) covering both the Marauder Concept and the Marauder Convertible Concept
- Production Marauder – complete details
Here are a couple of the images from eBay, followed by original production images (all images are in the gallery) and the original press release.
What the concept is doing at a Sears is hard to say – it certainly wasn’t driven there.
The following notice is added to all Ford Motor Co. concepts that are sold to the public. None of them can registered or used on public streets.
The engine is the same as shown originally… however, oddly, the fuel lines have been changed. It appears that the car now uses a different fuel pressure regulator.
- 335 HP @ 5,250 rpm rpm
- 355 lb.-ft. @ 3,000 rpm
In the original press image below from 2002, you can see the different fuel pressure regulator and fuel lines, almost cobbled together here judging by the appearance. As far as we can tell, this is the only change from the original concept vehicle (other than the missing red battery terminal cap). Click on the engine picture below for a 2000-pixel high-res image of this prototype engine.
As you can see in the press image below, the Marauder was a good-looking car and delivered a knock-out blow to the usual Mercury demographic (which may have been the problem in trying to sell it).
Press Release follows:
MERCURY MARAUDER RETURNS TO CHICAGO AS A CONVERTIBLE CONCEPT
CHICAGO, Feb. 6, 2002 – A new convertible concept debuting at this year’s Chicago Auto Show points to future possibilities for Mercury and for the all-new 2003 Mercury Marauder four-door performance sedan that goes on sale this summer.
The Marauder Convertible builds on the popularity of the sedan, which is designed to deliver a 1960s muscle car experience with contemporary driving dynamics, comfort and safety. It is designed to be like no other vehicle:
- Its supercharged 335-horsepower V-8 delivers more horsepower than any other full size convertible priced less than $85,000.
- It is a five-passenger convertible. All other convertibles on the market today only seat two or four passengers.
- Rear seat room is generous. At approximately 38 inches, the convertible’s rear seat legroom is the same as Marauder sedan’s.
- While true to its American muscle car heritage, it is thoroughly modern – with low emissions, cutting-edge safety and driving dynamics that balance comfort with control.
“The Marauder and the Marauder Convertible concept say a lot about the next generation of Mercury vehicles, which we’re defining now,” says Brian Kelley, president of Lincoln Mercury. “Both Marauders have heritage, performance and charisma. You’ll see these same qualities in future Mercurys.”
Over the next five years, eight new Mercury products are planned, including two all-new sedans, a new multi-purpose vehicle and specialty image-building niche products.
The 2003 Mercury Marauder sedan goes on sale this summer. Pricing will be announced closer to launch. At this time, the convertible is purely a concept, but public reaction will be closely monitored to gauge whether sufficient demand exists to justify a full development program.
The Marauder Convertible brings together types of vehicles that have become Mercury signatures: premium cars with outstanding performance and comfort, and stylish convertibles.
The Marauder Convertible concept’s lineage includes these notable vehicles:
- 1939 Series 99A Convertible:
- Ford Motor Company created the Mercury brand to offer premium products between the Ford and Lincoln brands, and a convertible was offered in 1939, the first model year.
- 1949 Mercury Series 9CM: James Dean drove a de-chromed Mercury six-passenger coupe in the movie “Rebel Without a Cause.” Mercury coupes went on to become the car of choice for performance tuners and hot-rodders.
- 1950 Mercury Series OMC Convertible:
- Mercury’s first Indianapolis 500 pace car was driven by Benson Ford, Henry Ford’s grandson.
- 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser Convertible:
- Mercury’s second Indianapolis 500 pace car
- 1963 ½-1964 Mercury Marauder: The first Mercury Marauders were performance versions of Mercury’s mainstream sedans, the Montclair and Monterey. They made their debut at the dawn of the muscle car era and were designed to capitalize on the success of the Bill Stroppe prepared Marauder stock cars, including the one that Parnelli Jones drove to victory in the 1963 Pikes Peak Hill Climb.
- 1966 Mercury Cyclone GT Convertible:
- Once again, Benson Ford drove a Mercury pace car at the Indianapolis 500. His Cyclone GT convertible was super-tuned to achieve 0-60 mph in 7 seconds.
- 1967 Mercury Cougar: The first Cougar – Mercury’s luxurious pony car – was named Motor Trend magazine’s “Car of the Year.”
- 1968 Mercury Parklane Brougham 4-door: Actor Jack Lord drove a triple black Mercury on the hit television series “Hawaii Five-O.”
- 1969 and 1970 Mercury Marauder X-100: 1969 marked the return of the Marauder, which included the feature-packed top-of-the line Marauder X-100, which was powered by a 429 cubic-inch V-8 engine.
“Since the day we began work on the first Marauder concept, everyone on the team knew we were building a car for customers who were like ourselves – total gear heads who remember what it was like to drive cars that made you feel like you owned the road,” says Steve Babcock, Marauder project manager. “I think the Marauder Convertible may be the ultimate car for Woodward Avenue or Mulholland Drive because it has the performance we remember, the comfort and roominess of a Mercury sedan, and nothing but open sky when the top is down.”
The Mercury team, like most enthusiasts, knows the engine is the heart and soul of a car. Even though the sedan’s normally aspirated, all-aluminum 4.6-liter DOHC V-8 will produce 300 horsepower and 310 lbs.-ft of torque, the team craved even more torque for the convertible to give it the performance feel of a 1960s “big block” V-8 off the line. So, they chose the same supercharged 4.6-liter SOHC V-8 that appeared in the 1998 Marauder sedan concept.
This iron block engine with aluminum cylinder heads and two valves per cylinder produces 335 horsepower at 5,250 rpm and 355 lbs.-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm. The engine breathes through a high-flow filter and aluminum upper and lower intake manifolds. A belt-driven Eaton Gen 4 Supercharger- Model 90 produces 6 psi of boost. The Roots-type supercharger is mated to a dual-core air-to-water intercooler, which extracts heat from the compressed air charge to improve combustion efficiency. Premium unleaded fuel is fed to the engine through a dual-bore 57 mm throttle body and high-flow fuel injectors. The compression ratio is 9.85:1.
To minimize exhaust backpressure – and make a bold visual and auditory statement – the six-brick catalyst system uses 2-inch diameter high-flow stainless steel exhaust pipes through the hot end and 2.25-inch tailpipes out of the muffler with 3.5-inch stain less steel Megs tips. Under acceleration, the exhaust note is aggressive, with the unmistakable sound of a large American V-8 engine, but overall sound levels are very subdued when cruising for a surprisingly tranquil cabin.
To handle the torque of the supercharged engine, Marauder uses a heavy-duty four-speed transmission with overdrive. For good off-the-line performance, the team went to their drag racing playbooks and added a reinforced 11¼-inch high-stallspeed torque converter with a heavy-duty 1-inch, one-way clutch.
The high stall speed allows engine revolutions to rise into the peak power band before torque is transmitted to the rear wheels. A 3.55:1 rear axle with an 8.8-inch ring gear and limited slip differential also enhances launch performance and acceleration.
Under-hood detailing recalls the heritage of the “Super Marauder” production and stock car engines:
- The black painted cam covers are adorned with badges that recall the original red, white and blue Super Marauder badges from 1963.
- The exhaust manifolds are finished in black.
The chassis shared by both the Marauder Convertible concept and the production Marauder sedan is capable of delivering a combination of ride, handling, braking and safety performance unattainable in the heyday of the muscle car era.
The full perimeter frame has several significant enhancements compared with the frame used on full-size Mercury sedans before the 2003 model year:
- Strong but lightweight hydroformed steel is used for the front rails for good performance in full and offset frontal impacts.
- The critical number two crossmember – which serves as a mounting surface for the steering rack, engine mounts and the suspension’s lower control arms – is now a solid cast-aluminum piece. This strong, lightweight crossmember provides a precise mounting surface and better alignment tolerances than a steel crossmember.
- The steel crossmember that ties the frame together behind the A-pillar is a more robust design that improves the frame’s resistance to torsion and bending forces. This new member is designed to help manage side impact crash forces by transferring energy across the frame structure into the opposite rail.
All told, the sedan frame’s torsional rigidity has been increased by 24 percent, and its resistance to vertical bending has been improved by 20 percent. A frame that resists twisting and bending allows the suspension components to operate more efficiently. It also limits the transmission of noise, vibration and harshness into the body structure.
The independent front suspension uses a short and long-arm design with steel upper and aluminum lower control arms and coil-over-shock springs with Tokico monotube dampers. Monotube dampers were selected because they are more efficient and “tunable” than conventional twin-tube shocks because the damping pistons have a larger effective area. Heat dissipation also is improved.
To reduce lateral suspension compliance for crisp turn-in with reduced body roll, the Marauder sedan and convertible use a 28mm solid front Gripper™ stabilizer bar system. This system provides enhanced on-center steering response and better high-speed lane change stability.
Upper and lower control arms and a lateral Watt’s linkage locate the live-axle rear suspension. Load-leveling air springs and monotube dampers manage impacts. The rear air springs help maintain the car’s ride height even when the trunk is fully loaded and are very effective at absorbing minor road imperfections.
The combination of air springs and monotube dampers also is effective at managing the unsprung mass of the solid axle, which keeps the rear of the vehicle firmly planted during cornering on rough roads or washboard surfaces. A 21mm solid rear stabilizer bar, which uses rubber bushings, further improves body roll and tracking.
The steering system is rack-and-pinion with speed-sensitive variable power assist. Previous full-size Mercurys used a recirculating ball steering system. Because a rack-and-pinion system has fewer links, operating friction and compliance in the system are substantially reduced, which improves steering feel and precision. The new system also weighs 22.5 pounds less.
Other steering changes include a new intermediate steering shaft design called a swing link, which helps reduce operating friction compared with the old system. The steering knuckle is now cast aluminum for an additional five-pound weight savings.
For the convertible’s wheels and tires, the Marauder team selected strong but lightweight 18 x 8-inch, 10-spoke forged aluminum-alloy wheels shod with ultra-high-performance BFGoodrich g-Force T/A tires. The P245/55WR18 rear tires have a higher aspect ratio than the P235/50WR18 front tires to give the car a muscle car rake. The rear tires also have a slightly larger contact patch for maximum traction under acceleration.
These tires have an asymmetrical tread with sidewall inserts to enhance steering response.
In addition, the steel belts are reinforced with spiral-wound nylon to provide high-speed durability while minimizing weight and optimizing ride quality.
The concept shares the Marauder sedan’s 12-inch vented front and 11-inch rear brake rotors with twin-piston front and single-piston rear calipers.
The Marauder Convertible concept’s monochromatic body is finished in black gloss paint. Dark-tinted headlamps and taillamp bezels flow from the black exterior to continue the serious, but understated appearance. Unmistakable but subtle performance cues include the high intensity Cibié fog lamps integrated into the fascia, the three-inch chrome exhaust tips and the “Marauder” name embossed on the rear bumper.
The Mercury Marauder sent the message that the V-8 rear-drive muscle car is back. The convertible concept shows customers the possibilities for fun Marauder can create with its top down,” said Steve Park, Marauder chief designer.
The car’s lowered front suspension gives it an aggressive, muscle-car stance that is reinforced by the large 18-inch wheels and tires. The classic image of the Roman god Mercury is cast into each of the wheel caps to further communicate the car’s personality and heritage.
Like the Marauder sedan, the convertible is true to classic Mercury and Marauder heritage with added luxury touches for comfort. Inside, dual eight-way-power reclining bucket seats are appointed in rich black leather with classic French seam stitching derived from vintage Marauders. The seats have extra padding for better thigh, lumbar, and shoulder support. A modern rendition Mercury god’s head is debossed into the front seat backs.
For the convertible, the safety belts are seat-integrated for easier egress and ingress. Power adjustable accelerator and brake pedals are standard to help accommodate tall and short stature drivers.
On all Marauders, modern, technical-looking dot matrix gray trim accents the instrument panel.
A leather-wrapped floor shifter highlights the floor console area that flows into space for two-cup holders and a high storage bin for CDs and cell phones.
The white-faced gauges include a 7,000-rpm tachometer that redlines at 6,250 rpm. The 140-mph speedometer has a red-lit “Marauder” graphic. Auto Meter® brand high-performance oil-pressure and voltmeter gauges are located just in front of the shifter.
The audio system is a 140-watt Alpine AM/FM/CD/cassette player (a 6-CD changer is optional on the sedan) with four 100-amp speakers and a rear subwoofer for excellent top-down sound quality. For convenience, the steering wheel features secondary audio and climate controls.
The Marauder team refused to sacrifice passenger space when designing the convertible, so the interior package is the same as a Marauder sedan. The trunk is roomy and offers additional cargo-carrying convenience – golf clubs and athletic equipment can actually fit in the trunk, unlike; most modern convertibles. If produced for sale, the Marauder Convertible’s top would be a fully lined power-folding unit that would store cleanly under a hard tonneau cover.
The Marauder Convertible concept and sedan include several advanced safety technologies, including four-wheel antilock disc brakes, side-impact air bags and the Personal Safety System.
The Personal Safety System is one of the most comprehensive driver and front seat passenger restraint systems available. It includes dual-stage front air bags that deploy based on crash severity; sensors to detect if front-seat occupants are wearing safety belts; seat weight sensors; driver’s seat position sensor; safety-belt pretensioners and load-limiting retractors.
In addition, the BeltMinder™ system rings a chime to remind front seat occupants to buckle up. Standard child-safety seat tether anchors are located in the parcel tray behind all three rear-seating positions.
All Marauders also feature the Securilock™ passive anti-theft system, which prevents the vehicle from being started unless a key containing a uniquely encoded computer chip is inserted into the ignition.
It’s spring, and that means that car clubs all over the northern hemisphere are starting to announce their get-togethers for the summer and fall.
One subject we’ve written about on this site in the past is the Mercury Marauder… it’s successes and failures. The 2003-2004 Marauder was created by enthusiasts inside Ford’s product planning and engineering groups, but was a victim of the multiple illnesses inside Ford at the time and the near collapse of the product planning process. Despite Ford’s failure to follow thru with several planned updates to the Marauder (including a supercharged engine and better transmission), the Marauder was cancelled and the long history of the Marauder – going back to the sixties – came to a permanent end.
But the passion and loyalty of the Marauder owners survives, like so many of Ford’s most famous brands (the prime example of which is the Thunderbird).
MercuryMarauder.net is an enthusiast site dedicated to owners and fans of the Marauder. They’ve just announced their 9th annual yearly convention to be held in October in Hersey, PA USA. Read the details here: http://www.mercurymarauder.net/forums/showthread.php?t=68290.
If you’ve got a Marauder, this is the place to be. And Pennsylvania is a great place to visit in the fall. We may stop by ourselves to see their show.
If you are not familiar with the Marauder, you’ll find all the details on our site in the Marauder section. As is our practice, we’ve saved everything possible.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, this poor tortured driving enthusiast used to live exist just outside of Buffalo NY. For a driving enthusiast, the climate was the problem: for half the year it was great, and for the other half was a frozen & miserable hell.
The month of October was tailor-made to induce severe depression as every weekend was spent trying to get in a last few events before the approaching and inevitable “end”. As the season wound down to a close, there were the last couple of auto-crosses, a track event at the ‘Glen, the “Discover America” TSD rally (still being run by our old friend Tom Krajewski), a Halloween rally run by the South Towns Rally Club, and then in the last weekend of the month the last autocross of the season in some obscure little town such as Painted Post, where it would likely snow in the middle of the event. That was the absolute end of the race season. Then the winter started full-blast and everyone reverted to a sort of “Stockholm Syndrome”… staying inside and warm was a defensive reaction to the forced captivity. Read more
Auto Express reports that Ford will introduce a 3-door coupe version of the Focus at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this January. And that it will possibly be named “Capri”!
Auto Express also provided their own conceptual image of what this might look like. It’s nicely done, except for the Nissan 370Z wheels, tires, and brakes. Somebody knows how to use Photoshop… although they did neglect to design some appropriate wheels… with the right offset.
It’s well known that Ford has been wanting to offer a coupe along the lines of the Capri for some time… and failing so far to show a 3-door version of the new Focus was likely a tip-off that something special was up. There have also been references to further products built off the new platform. So a Capri is entirely possible. We’ll know more in the coming weeks…!
What we won’t see is the likes of a Capri commercial like this one!
The 1969 and 1970 Boss 302 Mustangs were homologation specials, built specifically to allow the car to compete in SCCA Trans Am racing. The cars were fitted with special handling options, but the most distinctive feature was the engine itself. The engine was basically a Windsor 302-cube motor fitted with 351 Cleveland type heads. There were reliability problems and several changes were made over the two years of production. The resultant horsepower was only 290. Although the figure was known to be under-rated (probably closer to 350), this was gross horsepower and was measured without engine accessories or driveline. Therefore, the power output was certainly far less than today’s 2011 Mustang GT or 2012 Boss.
1628 Boss 302 Mustangs were produced in 1969, 7013 in 1970. In addition, the Boss 302 engine was also offered in the Cougar Eliminator for both years. 169 were built for 1969. The Cougar was considerably heavier than the Mustang and would perform somewhat less. Authentic Boss 302 Mustangs and Cougars are amongst the most collectible of all special edition Fords and prices remain very high.
Car life reported in July 1969 a 0-60 time of 7.1 seconds and a quarter mile of 14.08 @ 102.85 MPH. While good for that time period, it would be totally unacceptable for today’s Mustangs. Even the 2011 V-6 Mustang handily outdoes that. In fact, the Consumer Reports October 2010 issue shows the 2011 V-6 Mustang overwhelming a 1970 Boss 302 Mustang, with a 0-60 time of 6.2 seconds versus 8 flat, and fuel economy averaging 24 for the v-6 versus only 11 for the Boss. We think this is a very telling example of progress… although as usual we are disgusted to see such a crude chassis after 40 years of so-so-progress. At least Ford finally understands that a base model Mustang doesn’t have to be a miserable box, and it’s taken them 45 years to remember that this was a fundamental reason for the success of the original mid-60s Mustangs.
We’ve had the good fortune to encounter both a Boss 302 Mustang and Cougar this year at the Cars and Coffee shows in Austin, Texas.
We’ll start with this absolutely gorgeous 1970 Cougar Eliminator. We’ve seen several of these over the years but this one looks the best, with a near-perfect restoration. We had both 1969 and 1970 Cougars in our family, and our own loaded 1970 Cougar XR-7 remains a handsome favorite. But it was nothing compared to this one… it’s the car we’d take of the two Boss examples shown here.
In profile, the Cougar was a sexy cat: long, low, lean, and curvy. It doens’t get any better than this from Mercury.
One indication of originality is the drip channel added under the start motor relay. Only Boss powered cars had these. It’s a clear sign that this example is almost certainly an original, although the shocks, battery, and chrome dipstick are clearly not original. This car still even the air injection (“smog”) device present (canister to the right, with hose leading down) – bravo to the owner for this attention to detail.
This 1969 Boss Mustang also made an appearance – again a very sharp looking Mustang, with (amazing for a Mustang) zero fake scoops. In fact Ford went to the length of removing the fake scoop behind the side door handles solely for Boss production. That wasn’t cheap to do, and it shows that Ford understood that a “form follows function” philosophy was what serious enthusiasts expected. That was a practice we wouldn’t see again from Ford until the Mustang SVOs of the 1980s. It’d be great to see Ford follow this practice again… the current Mustang can be ordered with a huge fake hood scoop and 4 non-functional side scoops. Poseurs!
This Boss is far less original than the Cougar above…the intake manifold and air cleaner are, unfortunately, completely wrong.
Will the 2012 and 2013 Boss Mustangs be as collectible as the originals? It’s hard to say at this point, but with only 7500 street cars to be made over two years it’s likely we’ll see high prices in 20 or 30 years. The majority of them will immediately go into storage instead of being used on the roadrace track, as they were designed for. Other recent special edition models such as the Bullets or Machs can be found at low prices… and are often modified past their original specifications. And the 2013 will mark the end of the current model Mustang… it will undoubtedly be replaced by something much lighter but with the same engines and a far better rear suspension. For an original Boss 302 powered car, we’d take the Cougar or Mustang shown here. But for a late model car, we’d rather wait until the Mustang gets replaced in 2014. We have higher expectations than Ford can currently deliver.
Some other sites are talking about the cancellation of Ford’s “Panther” platform (Ford Crown ‘Vic, Lincoln Town Car, and Mercury Grand Marquis), so we’ll join the party too with some high-res images of Panthers that might have been. Production is ending forever of these products and as you know they were barely updated for many years. So they are severely out-dated, their market appeal is very limited, and their production costs (especially UAW labor) are extremely high for very little return.
There isn’t any version of these cars that is of interest to Driving Enthusiasts – except of course the Crown ‘Vic Police Interceptor that some of you have seen in your rear view mirror with the lights flashing. That is those of you without V-1 radar detectors, since the battle of the municipal budgets is being fought every day on our highways and only those with the right equipment escape making a donation to the budgets of whatever speed trap you fell into.
During the Jacques Nasser years, some updates to the Panther were planned and some were experimented with in order to make time while a full size rear wheel drive platform was devised. Of course, those plans fell by the wayside as Billy Ford killed off anything and everything “Nasser” in his remake of the company in his own image. And we know what happened to the company then…
Ford finally made the decision to close down Mercury today. And it’s about time… Mercury was dead years ago.
The only questions remaining, are:
1. What about the Cougar brand? This is the only brand name remaining of any value. Everything else became valueless from lack of attention and differentiation years ago. The Capri (and Pantera!) weren’t strictly Mercurys anyway. Ford has played with a two-door Focus-based showcar in Europe that could be a new Capri (in the same way that a Scirocco is to a Golf). But it’s the Cougar brand that interests us the most… the opportunity to build a high-line Cougar based on the Mustang chassis, sharing development costs, and adding to the total number built – is almost too good to pass up. A more sophisticated chassis would be required… and that is apparently coming in 2014, IRS and all.
2. And the Lincoln brand. It’s been known for years that a Focus-based Lincoln (C-segment) is on the way… a show car version of it’s already been presented. As the press release below says, small Lincolns will have to separate themselves from Fords in a unique way. What that might be remains to be seen… hopefully it won’t be a Bobcat grill on a Pinto.
Ford Press Release follows:
FORD TO EXPAND LINCOLN LINEUP AND BRAND EMPHASIS; MERCURY PRODUCTION ENDS IN FOURTH QUARTER OF 2010
- Ford is expanding its Lincoln lineup with seven all-new or significantly refreshed vehicles in the next four years – including its first-ever C-segment vehicle
- Lincoln’s plan accelerates with more investment and attention on standout product design, class-leading technology and powertrains delivering top performance and fuel efficiency
- Lincoln product development, marketing, sales and service resources expanding as the brand competes with Cadillac and Lexus in the marketplace
- Ford will end production of Mercury vehicles in the fourth quarter of this year to fully devote its financial, product development, production and marketing, sales and service resources toward further growing its core Ford brand while enhancing Lincoln
- Existing Mercury owners to receive continued access to parts and service support at Ford
and Lincoln dealers; current Mercury vehicle warranties and Extended Service Plans will be honored; special offers available on new Mercury vehicles through the summer
- Affected dealers to receive specialized support during the transition, as the company continues its transformation to a more profitable dealer network
DEARBORN, Mich., June 2, 2010 – Ford Motor Company will expand and enhance its Lincoln brand lineup with seven all-new or significantly refreshed vehicles in the next four years as part of an aggressive growth plan focused on standout product design, class-leading technology and new powertrains – all aimed at competing with Cadillac and Lexus in North America.
Ford also will end production of Mercury vehicles in the fourth quarter of this year to fully devote its financial, product development, production and marketing, sales and service resources toward further growing its core Ford brand while enhancing the Lincoln brand.
“We have made tremendous progress on profitably growing the Ford brand during the past few years. Now, it is time to do the same for Lincoln,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas. “The new Lincoln vehicles will transform luxury for North American premium customers through an unexpected blend of responsive driving enjoyment and warm, inviting comfort. We will also offer our customers a world-class retail experience through a vibrant retail network.”
Lincoln’s hallmarks will be refined, modern design, the most fuel-efficient premium powertrains and industry-leading technology that create a unique driver experience both in the cabin and on the road.
“Profitably growing Lincoln in North America is an important part of our One Ford plan,” said Alan Mulally, Ford president and CEO. “Our Ford brand is gaining momentum and winning customers around the world. Now, we are going to use the same laser focus to further strengthen Lincoln and deliver even more products luxury customers really want and value.”
The future of Lincoln is building from a strong base that includes the all-new flagship MKS large sedan, the all-new MKT seven-passenger crossover and a significantly refreshed MKZ mid-size sedan – all now in showrooms. The hybrid version of the MKZ will reach showrooms later this year and is expected to be the most fuel efficient premium sedan on the market.
Lincoln’s product actions continue later this year with the debut of the significantly refreshed 2011 MKX crossover, the first vehicle to feature MyLincoln Touch driver connect technology.
This will be followed by another six all-new or significantly refreshed vehicles within four years developed with Lincoln’s DNA of standout design, precise and confident driving experience, class-leading technology and powertrains delivering top performance and fuel efficiency.
Lincoln will be led by expanded product development and marketing, sales and service teams to support the brand’s growth plan and ensure it has a strong cadence of distinct products that are well positioned in the market. Plans for Lincoln include:
- Lincoln’s first-ever C-segment vehicle
- New Lincoln-exclusive powertrains, including an all-new V-6 engine and advanced fuel-efficient transmissions
- EcoBoost engines available in all Lincolns – from the Navigator full-size SUV to the new C-segment Lincoln
- Fuel economy leadership with each new vehicle – leading to Lincoln emerging as the most fuel-efficient luxury lineup on the market
- More useful technology and features than any other competitor – with a special focus on comfort and convenience. New advanced features include: fully retractable glass roofs; adaptive computer-controlled suspensions; electronic, push-button gear-selectors; active noise control; and exclusive MyLincoln Touch driver connect technology
“Lincoln vehicles will reward drivers with smooth, effortless power complemented by agile handling and responsive steering,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president, Global Product Development. “The cabin is a sanctuary with segment-leading quietness, genuine materials and intuitive, useful technology.”
Lincoln has started gaining traction with customers, as evidenced by market share gains during the past five years. Lincoln’s share of the retail U.S. luxury vehicle market has grown from 4.5 percent in 2005 to 6.3 percent through the first quarter of 2010.
In addition, Lincoln’s reputation with consumers has risen, with favorable opinion and purchase consideration reaching its highest level in the past five years. Lincoln’s long-term durability was second only to Porsche’s in the 2010 J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Survey.
Mercury originally was created as a premium offering to Ford and was an important source of incremental sales. However, the continued strength of the Ford brand – particularly during the past three years – has accelerated the migration from Mercury to Ford for many customers.
Today, Mercury’s customer profile, pricing and margins are almost identical to Ford, but Mercury’s incremental sales have been declining.
The majority of current Mercury sales are to fleet buyers and customers purchasing through employee, retiree and friends and family discounts, which Ford anticipates largely can be satisfied by Ford brand vehicles.
Of Ford Motor Company’s 16 percent market share in the U.S., Mercury accounts for 0.8 percentage points, a level that has been flat or declining for the past several years. That contrasts with the Ford brand, which has increased market share by 2.2 percentage points so far this year on the strength of new products and improved quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value.
Ford’s strengthening financial position – including the return to profitability and positive cash flow – allows the company to absorb short-term costs associated with the discontinuation of Mercury and to consolidate future product investments into Lincoln.
Today, there are no stand-alone Mercury dealerships in North America. Ford is working closely with dealers to maintain properly located stand-alone Lincoln or Ford-Lincoln dealers, which will offer dealers and the company the greatest opportunity for long-term profitable growth.
New operational standards developed with the company’s dealers will facilitate a Lincoln customer experience that exceeds the expectations of North American luxury customers.
Ford will work closely with Mercury dealers and customers during the transition, including providing existing Mercury owners with continued access to parts and service support at Ford and Lincoln dealers and by honoring current warranties, including Ford’s Extended Service Plans.
“We are 100 percent committed to supporting Mercury owners through Ford and Lincoln dealerships and working hard to keep them as valued customers in the future,” Fields said. “At the same time, we will work closely with our dealers to phase out Mercury franchises and continue to build a healthy, growing Lincoln with strong new products and a profitable dealer network that delivers a world-class customer experience.”
Mercury owners will receive additional details in the coming days explaining the transition and assuring them that Ford and its dealers will continue to provide all necessary parts and service support for Mercury products.
Ford has notified Mercury dealers of the decision and provided details of a financial package that includes payment in exchange for resigning the franchise.
Ford today also informed dealers of special offers on new Mercury vehicles that will be available through the summer to support the sell down of current Mercury inventory and remaining Mercury vehicle production.
“We are taking decisive action and moving into the future with the right plan to deliver profitable growth for all stakeholders,” Fields said. “These moves position us to continue building momentum through strong brands, great products and an unwavering focus on the customer.”
# # #
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 176,000 employees and about 80 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and, until its sale, Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.