Outside of marque-specific car shows and local cruise-ins, it’s been a while since Mercury crossed our minds. Despite languishing during its final years of existence, Ford Motor Company’s bygone middle child produced some fascinating cars over the years. For those Mercury die-hards out there, Bring a Trailer’s got two very different examples of the breed, each hailing from different eras and sitting in very different condition.
The final years of the brand might have been filled with tepid, rebadged Ford SUVs and uninspired sedans, but during Mercury’s 75-year history, it turned out some seriously hot cars. You can’t have a discussion about interesting Mercury models without first touching the legendary Cougar XR-7.
Essentially a contemporary Ford Mustang in cashmere drag, the first-gen Cougar was the gentleman’s muscle bruiser. The upscale ponycar proved popular and found its way into the Trans-Am racing circuit, nearly winning the manufacturer’s title in 1967. Real Trans-Am Cougars are rare and highly coveted, putting them out of the reach of most muscle-car enthusiasts.
Faced with high six-figure price tags, this gold-over-blue ’68 Cougar Trans-Am tribute was built by Scotty Hackenson of Cobra Automotive in Connecticut. Power comes from a 5.7-liter (347 cu-in) Ford V-8, loaded with all manner of goodies including JE pistons, forged crank, Hedman headers, and a Holly 750 carburetor. Power is shipped to the rear wheels through a four-speed Ford Toploader transmission and a 9-inch Ford rear-end with a limited-slip differential.
Inside, a full stripped-out interior includes cage, harnesses, fire suppression system, and racing seats. Around back, a fuel cell feeds the V-8 up front. To remain competitive on the vintage racing circuit, the Cougar wears a special suspension with Koni dampers and upgraded rear leaf springs. At all four corners, disc brakes were substituted for the original system.
Travel to the other side of the Mercury product range, and you’ll run headfirst into the long line of cushy highway cruisers. If you find cross-country ambles more appealing than hot, smoky track days, BaT’s 1990 Mercury Grand Marquis is the better Mercury.
Wearing an astounding 15,000 miles on the odometer, this big boat is a rare time capsule of a car we’re not sure was worth saving in the first place. Like the Cougar, power comes from a Ford V-8, only this time in 5.0-liter displacement. A four-speed automatic transmission manages the 150 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque on tap, giving it performance best suited for sitting at 80 mph for hours on end rather than smokin’ them at each stoplight sprint.
Inside, it’s as clean as the exterior, with minimal wear present on switchgear and touch points. According to Carfax, there was an accident reported back in 2005, but no details are available, and the car appears to be in near-pristine condition.