Mercury Messenger Concept

Introduced: NAIAS 2003


Press Release


In ancient Roman mythology, Mercury was the god of speed and agility and the messenger of the heavens.

At the North American International Auto Show, Mercury is a brand sending a message that modern design will lead its rejuvenation, beginning with its new Messenger concept coupe

Mercury is returning to its roots as a design leader introducing the Messenger concept, a distinctive and energetic high-performance two-seat sports coupe.

The Messenger concept car represents the first expression of Mercury's new design DNA with a clean, technical appearance that begins to establish the look of Mercury products still to come. Mercury will introduce four new products over the next four years including a minivan, a small sport utility and two cars.

"The body surface reflects the car's power and grace, with flowing body lines that are accented with purposeful air intakes and outlets," says Gerry McGovern, design director, Lincoln Mercury. "The dynamic fluidity of the Messenger's lean and taut form is expressed at rest as much as it is in movement."

Exterior Design

The Messenger's proportions are the direct result of the dramatic vehicle architecture - clean and sculpted with a tautness and agility that transcends the vehicle's design and handling characteristics.

It is a vehicle designed to be uncompromised in capability and performance. The long hood houses a powerful 4.6-liter modular V-8 engine. The energetic stance and supple appearance of the Messenger are enhanced by 20-inch wheels with 305mm wide tires on the rear and 19-inch wheels with 275mm wide tires on the front - a tire/wheel combination that allows the car to firmly put down onto the pavement all the power the V-8 can generate.

The spoke wheels have a turbine theme, with vanes that reflect the appearance of the Mercury "flying M" logo. The functional vanes help direct airflow over the vented brake disc and high performance brake calipers, further communicating the car's high performance capabilities.

One aspect of Mercury's future design DNA is embodied by the stacked element theme at the front of the vehicle with distinctive front lights and vertical grill elements. The rear lights convey the DNA message with sequential taillights that repeat the theme.

Large, beautifully sculpted front air scoops and outlets at the front and rear of the vehicle provide a purposeful and powerful look.

Interior Design

The compact and efficient exterior package provides a cockpit-like driving environment inside, with the cockpit placed directly between the wheels to further emphasize the car's proportions.

The Messenger interior is designed to be taut, innovative and functional -- technologically advanced, yet intuitive to use, providing innovative stowage and space within a compact package. The interior is the embodiment of Mercury's new DNA direction.

The design of the door panels echoes the shape of the exterior body side feature, with the interior armrest resting upon the shape of the exterior air vent sheet metal on the doors. The design of the doors emphasizes the perception of a protective environment.

All displays in the cockpit emit minimum levels of information to facilitate quick and concise driver response. The instrument panel is designed with primary focus zones that have intuitive interfaces to keep the driver constantly informed. Switchgear is minimized to reduce distraction.

"This vehicle is driver-focused, from the commanding seating position to the way the vehicle interfaces with the person behind the wheel," says McGovern. "Use of the controls inside the cockpit is intuitive."

The seats in the Messenger are mounted laterally to the tunnel and rocker panel to further strengthen the lightweight aluminum hydro-formed monocoque, while forming part of the integral occupant safety cell.

The central console incorporates a centrally mounted chronograph. The clock, like all key elements, is in close proximity to the driver to allow split-second comprehension and reaction during high-performance driving.

A Look Back - A Look Ahead

Design inspiration for the Mercury Messenger goes back to Mercury's roots and gives a message of where Mercury is going in the future.

In Roman mythology, Mercury was not only the messenger of the gods. This son of Zeus was also god of commerce and travel. He was accurate, reliable and swift. Edsel Ford's vision at Mercury's start in 1938 was to produce vehicles that were refined with an emphasis on design. Reliability and swiftness were admirable attributes for a new automotive brand. Similarly, Mercury's modern mission is to capture the American driving experience through innovation and design.

McGovern on Messenger and Mercury Design

"Messenger is about taut, dynamic surfaces. It's charismatic and modern," says McGovern. "It's about intelligence, connectivity and it's about distinction. All of these themes will be developed further in Mercury cars and trucks of the near future.

"The Mercury Messenger may be the ultimate dream car - but what it represents is the essence of what Mercury is becoming.

"Mercury is to be a design-driven brand - the Mercury DNA is delivering vehicles that are energetic, distinctive, intelligent and charismatic," says McGovern. "On the outside, its vehicles will feature proportion and package efficiency with optimized surface language that is clean and simple, lean and taut, with drama of attitude, produced with a product design approach.

"The next-generation Mercury products will feature a distinct new front-end appearance with vertically stacked elements combined with a horizontal grille theme. They'll have a family resemblance, but be distinct in their own automotive genre. Interiors will provide a contemporary environment that is technically advanced, with innovative seating, comfort with simplicity, using high-tech materials. Functions that interface with the driver and passengers will be logical and storage opportunities will be creative, says McGovern."

Mercury Messenger Technical Specifications


The Mercury Messenger is a high performance, two-seat sports car powered by a V-8 classically driving the rear wheels.

Engine/Drive train

  • Front engine, rear wheel drive.
  • All-aluminum 4.6-liter DOHC V-8
  • 6-speed automatic sequential gearbox

Body and Chassis

Unique monocoque construction using a composite / aluminum hybrid 'tub' chassis with super-formed aluminum panels bonded to it. The result is a body with high torsional rigidity providing excellent ride and handling properties. Occupant protection is enhanced and noise/vibration/harshness (NVH) is reduced by this method of construction.


  • Rear 18 spoke 20 x 10J cast alloy wheels with Goodyear 305/40R20 tires
  • Front 18 spoke 19 x 9J cast alloy wheels with Goodyear 275/40/R19 tires
  • High performance Brembo power assisted brakes, anti-lock brake system using Electronic Brake Force Distribution
  • Front - 355mm vented discs with 4 piston calipers
  • Rear - 355mm vented discs with 4 piston calipers
  • Computer active suspension adjusts ride height and dynamics to suit driving style, speed and road conditions with 'intelligent' traction control
  • Electronically actuated parking brake


  • Power assisted variable ratio rack and pinion


Length4533mm / 178.5"
Width1938mm / 76.3"
Height1304mm / 51.3"
Wheelbase2825mm / 111.2"
Front track1662mm / 65.4"
Rear track1650mm / 65"
Trunk volume340 liters
Legroom1084mm / 42.6"
Headroom943mm / 38"

Safety and Security

  • Integral safety cell structure
  • Personal Safety System
  • Global vehicle theft location system
  • Self-leveling high-intensity 'projector' headlamps
  • LED technology brake lights with faster response for additional safety
  • Automatically monitored and adjusted tire pressure sensing system

Comfort and Convenience

  • Independent climate control for driver and passenger with pollen filtration
  • THX certified digital CD/Radio Hi-fi system. Automatic volume control linked to vehicle speed
  • Hands free telephone capability
  • Rain sensing windshield wipers
  • Automatically dimming interior rear view mirror
  • Powered and heated exterior rear view mirrors
  • Height and reach adjustable steering column
  • Low-E glass to reduce UV and heat build up
  • Stowage space behind seats with integral child seat fittings





The debut of the Mercury Messenger marks the beginning of the rejuvenation of the Mercury brand. Mercury will add four new products to its lineup over the next four years including: a minivan, a small SUV and two cars.

Mercury has unveiled a sketch of its 2004 Monterey minivan, but has not announced details of the next-generation Mercury models. Monterey will round out a Mercury lineup that includes the Grand Marquis, Marauder and Sable sedans and the Mountaineer SUV.

“With the Mercury Messenger, we turned the design team loose to express their aspirational vision for Mercury,” says Chris Theodore, vice president of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury Product Development. “This gorgeous coupe was the outcome of that expression.”

“We are not announcing plans to build Messenger, per se. But we are saying we will build upon cues from its design in every one of our next-generation Mercurys going forward.

“The new Monterey, which debuts this summer, will bear a strong family resemblance to today's Mountaineer. The next-generation Mercurys will feature design cues developed on the Messenger including a distinctive Mercury front-end theme, which will be phased into existing products as they receive future design upgrades.”

Theodore says the key to Mercury's future is leveraging the resources of Ford Product Development in creating new vehicle architectures and platforms and then creating unique Mercury designs, laden with special features inside and out.

“This industry has come a long way in terms of our ability to reuse components and architectures and achieve unique products,” Theodore says. “Our Mercury cycle-plan was developed to take full advantage of advanced engineering and flexible manufacturing techniques to deliver great products and a solid business model.

“These next-generation Mercury products will complement today's lineup and lead us into the future. They're unique products that deliver smart, contemporary design, more unique features, individuality and value to Mercury customers, just as Edsel Ford intended when he first envisioned the Mercury in 1939.”



As Ford Motor Company begins to celebrate its centennial year, the Mercury brand is redefining its personality and purpose — starting back at the drawing board in 1935.

It was in that year that a project began taking shape in the brand new Ford Design Studios in Dearborn. The project was a decidedly upscale Ford car that would have more distinctive styling and features than were found on any other Ford product. It would compete with the mid-level GMs, Dodges and DeSotos of the day, but not reach the levels of Cadillac or Ford's own Lincoln models.

As the project neared completion in 1938, Edsel Ford decided that the car, at one point to be named the “Ford Falcon,” didn't fit in the traditional Ford lineup. Ford saw the need for a line of cars that filled the existing gap between the Ford Deluxe and the Lincoln Zephyr. He decided to create a new brand, one that would compliment the two existing Ford Motor Company standards.

“The Mercury brand has stood for a lot of things over the years,” says Darryl Hazel, president of Lincoln Mercury. “We're here to celebrate Mercury for its role in the Ford portfolio. That role is essentially the same as it was in 1939 when Edsel created it. Mercury gives customers distinctive styling along with innovative features and an expression of individuality that they don't find in the Ford brand. In price, Mercury products slot into the lineup between the Ford and Lincoln products.”

Edsel Ford himself chose the name Mercury based on the imagery of the winged messenger of the Roman gods. Mercury was the god of commerce who symbolized dependability, eloquence, speed and skill. Mercury cars would be filled with the latest advancements and therefore command a premium price over their Ford counterparts and compete with mid-priced General Motors cars. Ford’s vision for Mercury was added styling along with “improved ride, handling, stopping distance and internal noise.”

In 1939, the first model, the Mercury 8, went into production. The 1939 Mercury 8 sold for $916 and boasted a 95-horsepower V-8 along with more room and comfort than the $825, 85-horsepower Ford Deluxe. More than 65,000 were built the first year.

The formula for success is the same today as it was in 1939. Mercury fills an important role in Ford Motor Company’s portfolio and is a critical element in the success of the Lincoln Mercury franchise.

Instant Success and Decades of Prosperity
By 1942, when production was halted because of the war effort, annual Mercury sales had grown to more than 150,000 units. When the war ended in 1945, the new Lincoln Mercury Division was established. The products of Ford and Lincoln Mercury remained newly manufactured versions of pre-war designs until 1949.

The 1949 Mercury was the first new offering from Lincoln Mercury Division. It also was the first time Mercury received a distinctive body style all its own. The 1949 Mercury was a design tour de force, which later became a favorite of the hot rod generation to come. James Dean drove a customized version in the 1955 film “Rebel Without a Cause.”

Mercury's of the 1950s featured innovations such as the Merc-o-matic transmission and the industry's first sunroof, a transparent top on the 1954 Mercury. The 1960s were a decade of speed and performance with racy Marauders, Meteors and Cyclones driven by racing legends such as Parnelli Jones, Cale Yarborough and Bill Stroppe. The famous Mercury Cougar bowed in 1967 just as the industry was closing a prosperous chapter in its own history.

Changing Landscape
The 1970s and 1980s were a period of trial for a number of automakers and great automotive nameplates. The large, near-luxury Mercurys of the day were in no position to remain competitive as the fuel crisis of the 1970s gripped the auto industry. The big Mercurys were no match for the compact cars of Japan and Germany.

Throughout the 1980s, Mercury had a number of successes. Still, many of its cars lost the differentiation from Ford products that drove the early success of the brand. Surprisingly, it wasn't that Mercury lacked products to sell, but that it suffered from a glut of nameplates that were too numerous for dealers to properly market and manage. Even still, there were tremendous product hits, including the Mercury Sable in 1986. Sable had unique styling and packaging that made it clearly an upscale model when compared with the workaday Taurus. Together, the cars were credited by many as products that gave the company a much-needed boost at a critical point in its history.

The 1990s was a decade when Mercury was trying to develop a new personality, completely independent of its Ford roots. It added the Villager minivan, which was a joint venture not with Ford, but with Nissan Motor Co. of Japan. The vehicle was far different from the Ford Windstar, but was premium priced. The Cougar nameplate returned on a sporty coupe, which enjoyed great initial success in bringing in new customers to the brand.

In 1998, Lincoln and Mercury moved its Marketing and Sales headquarters and Design Center to Irvine, Calif. The move to California was designed to introduce the brands to the trendy west-coast culture as the company geared up to take the Lincoln brand global.

Over the next few years, Ford added two new global brands, Volvo and Land Rover, to its portfolio. With no need to create another global competitor for its already powerful lineup, Ford tabled plans to take Lincoln global. In 2002, the company announced a “back-to-basics,” product-led transformation plan for its North American operations with a strong emphasis on its core North American brands: Ford, Lincoln and Mercury.

At the same time, Ford announced that it would reintegrate the Lincoln Mercury Product Development group back into the Ford Product Development system. The Lincoln Mercury Design Studio would remain independent and remain in Irvine.

2002: The Year of the Lincoln
2002 was the year of the Lincoln at Ford. In 2002, the entire Lincoln lineup was replaced with new or significantly freshened products. The class-leading Navigator full-size SUV was all-new for 2002. The flagship Lincoln Town Car received a major freshening including, ride, handling, steering, interior and exterior design upgrades. The Lincoln LS received a major freshening and the all-new Lincoln Aviator joined the lineup.

The Mercury Moment
2003 will mark further changes in operations designed to make Lincoln Mercury more competitive today and into the future.

“Our immediate goal is to give our dealers the products they need to get Mercury customers and dealers excited again,” says Hazel. “We want to send a message loud and clear that Mercury is here to stay and poised for great things over the next few years.”

Mercury has announced that it will introduce four new products over the next four years including a minivan, a small SUV and two distinctive new cars. The Mercury Monterey minivan will be the first of the spate of new products. Based on the same platform as the Ford Windstar, the all-new Mercury minivan will feature class-leading safety technologies, fold-into-the-floor third row seats and innovative Mercury features such as forward and reverse sonar parking sensors.

“Our plan is to return Mercury to its roots by embracing its place in the Ford portfolio,” says Hazel. “We will build our future by offering Mercury customers what they want: unique, individual and exciting design, smartly done. A well-equipped car, SUV or minivan that's different from the crowd.”

Moving Mercury Forward
Hazel recently announced another step in Mercury's back-to-basics revitalization plans: relocating the Marketing and Sales operations to Dearborn, Mich. to achieve better operating synergies with its sibling Ford Division.

“It is critical for those of us running the business to be in direct contact with our counterparts at Ford Division and our Product Development teams in Dearborn,” says Hazel.

Yet while the business operations return to their roots, the Lincoln Mercury Design Center will remain in Irvine Calif. It was in the Irvine studio that the next-generation Mercury design was born and will continue to develop alongside advance Lincoln products.

“We've always had a design presence in California, so it's appropriate that the design studio remains in the heart of the trend-setting west coast,” says Hazel.



SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 31, 2003 – Ford Motor Company will give its North American dealers a tantalizing view of products to come and an enlightening trip through the company’s storied past when they gather for their annual convention this week in California.

A new company display, featuring the Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo, Land Rover, Aston Martin, Mazda and Jaguar brands and services, will be unveiled during the National Automotive Dealers Association 86th annual exhibition and convention Feb. 1-4 in San Francisco.

“A year into our plan, Ford’s revitalization is on track and accelerating, thanks to the company’s great products,” said Jan Valentic, vice president, Global Marketing, Ford Motor Company. “Our dealers are a huge part of this rebirth, so we developed a new NADA display to get them excited about our centennial and our new products.”

The NADA convention gives dealers an up-close-and-personal look at Ford Motor Company products and provides in-depth perspective on Ford’s 100-year history. “Most importantly, attendees will be able to share their experiences and insights with other team members and customers when they return home,” said Valentic.

Ford’s NADA exhibit puts its main message – product – front and center. The Ford Mustang convertible concept, Ford F-150 Lightning concept, Lincoln Navicross concept, Mercury Messenger concept, Jaguar X-Type racing concept, Volvo XC90, Land Rover G4 Freelander, Mazda RX8, Hot Wheels Focus and Saleen Thunderbird are among vehicles to be displayed. The walls behind feature vehicles will highlight the appropriate Ford Motor Company brand, emphasizing the depth and breadth of the company’s lineup. Additionally, the Model T, Ford’s most famous product of all, is on display at the exhibit center.

More than a quarter of the 100- by 200-foot exhibit space is dedicated to information on customer services such as repair, financing, vehicle personalization, leasing, commercial lending, remarketing, insurance and investments. Another fourth of the space is dedicated to showcasing supplies and equipment for dealerships.

“Last year we learned that dealers wanted more vehicle displays and information. We listened, and we’re delivering this year – with more product and more product seminars,” said Valentic. “We will hold seminars on a variety of topics, including brand-specific presentations, information on integrating the company’s centennial into the dealership, growth of quick-service lanes, as well as tailoring financing and insurance programs.”

Between seminars, dealers can take a rest in the exhibit’s 35-seat open theater, which will run current and historical advertising as well as vintage film highlighting Ford’s first 100 years and the company’s dedication to important social causes such as Race for the Cure for breast cancer.

Dealers navigate the brands and other areas of the exhibit via a pathway of blue carpet. A suspended scrim running the exhibit’s perimeter displays photos of current and future products interspersed with quotes from company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Ford. The sepia-toned interior of the scrim is laced with historical images to provide a visual time line of Ford.

“The scrim sets the tone. It tells who we are and where we’ve been,” said Valentic. “We wanted to develop an overall exhibit that exceeds our dealers’ expectations for the company. We want them to stop, to look, to ask questions and come away with a sense of pride.”

Ford Motor Company also uses the NADA convention as a forum to honor its Salute to Dealers award recipients – dealers who are heavily involved in community or important charitable causes. For 2003, nine dealers will be honored for spearheading educational programs, disaster relief, medical research, social responsibility and other activities or agencies in their regions.

“We believe our dealers will walk away from this year’s NADA display with a better view of our company’s brands and where they fit in the company’s portfolio,” said Valentic. “Once they’ve spent some time visiting Ford’s past, seeing great future products and getting new information about the company’s services and how to leverage them, we know they’ll return to their dealerships as even more enthusiastic partners in the revitalization.”

Bill Ford, the company CEO since October 2001 and chairman since 1999, will be the convention’s keynote speaker on Feb. 1. NADA represents more than 19,400 dealers with 40,000 franchises in domestic and imported cars and trucks.