Monday, August 9, 2010

Beating a Dead [Green] Horse

Apparently my Cyclone Hybrid's wings were clipped before it could fly into the 21st century. Click to see what might have been.

C H O P — Yes, Mercury is dead. I tried, I really tried to save the corporation, chopping nearly 40 separate Mercurys in the past 4 years, almost all of them Hybrids. 

It was my idea that Mercury would become the Green division for FoMoCo, the high-tech division, the leader for the company in all sorts of future drivetrains and electronic features. Lincoln could go after the luxury market in all of its forms, large and small. Ford could remain the bastion of family standards, what it has done best for more than one hundred years. Mercury, first introduced in 1939 as a more powerful, slightly larger and more upscale Ford, would remain an aspirational vehicle, but in the Green Movement. 

To that end, I created tiny hybrids, medium sized hybrids, large hybrids, crossover hybrids, and here, a supercar hybrid. This Cyclone, a phenomenal nameplate for an automobile slated to blow away the competition in every conceivable way, and a nameplate already possessed by FoMoCo, would have been built off the late Ford GT platform, retooled for hybrid duty. Think carbon-fiber body panels for ultra low weight, and a torque-rich electric-boosted drivetrain: 180mph top speed and a cool 60mpg at highway speeds due to the ultra low aero-tuned body. 

Cue Pink Floyd, Us and Them. "Them" won this time.

Us and Them

Us and Them,
And after all we're only ordinary men

Me, and you
God only knows it's not what we would choose to do

Forward he cried from the rear
and the front rank died
And the General sat, as the lines on the map
moved from side to side

Black and Blue
And who knows which is which and who is who

Up and Down
And in the end it's only round and round and round

Haven't you heard it's a battle of words
the poster bearer cried
Listen son, said the man with the gun
There's room for you inside

Down and Out
It can't be helped but there's a lot of it about

With, without
And who'll deny that's what the fightings all about

Get out of the way, it's a busy day
And I've got things on my mind
For want of the price of tea and a slice
The old man died 

—Roger Waters and Rick Wright, 1973

For a YouTube video of this peaceful, gentle, powerful song, click here.


  1. Great song, great imagery; though it portrays the sad ending of another storied mark. I've owned several Mercurys over the years, including my current minivan. In each case they WERE better than their Ford counterparts, if only aesthetically. Unfortunately, Fomoco realized that they just couldn't support a half dozen brands anymore, and Mercury was a casualty.
    I really like your Cyclone. It has a updated 60's De Tomaso vibe to it. Truly a car that could have saved Mercury, if it's product planners had WANTED to save it.


  3. Good Morning, Casey. Well I tried to find a picture of my mom's '48 Merc; this was the closest I could come up with:

    For us it was a BIG departure in cars, it was the first car not to bear the name FORD on it and second, the first non-black car in the family. To quote Henry Ford, "you can have any color you want as long as it is black."

    The car was green, but not a dark green pictured here, more of a very light metallic medium green, if that makes any sense.

    This must have been one of the most 'chopped' cars going, trying to find an original look was like trying to recognize Joan Rivers in her high school year book.

    This car seemed so huge to us, we affectionately call it 'the tank'. Sorry Mom, sorry Casey.

  4. PX: I was going for the DeTomaso vibe, like the Pantera Mercury was allowed to sell in the early 70s. Now THAT was a halo car!

    Granny: Pink Floyd was an awesome rock group from England, mostly popular in the '70s and '80s. A lot of their music was 'atmospheric' like this. One of my favorite bands of all time. The lyrics to the song are the ones I printed in this post. As often as I"ve heard that song, I never knew ALL of rhe lyrics before. It was fun to listen to something I've heard a million times and really understand what they were singing!

    Annie: You're so right! The '49-'51 Mercury probably is the most customized car in existence. You said '48 but I think you meant '49 anyway. The '48 Mercury was a great car too, but almost identical to the pre-war '41s and '42s. The '49-'51 is also known as the James Dean Mercury because he drove one in Rebel Without a Cause. Plus I've seen one from that period in that exact shade of medium green metallic!

  5. Yes, it must have been the '49. Poor Mom we really teased her. She was this tiny woman, stretched full out, maybe, just maybe 5'3", tho more like 5'2". She was like this huge green snail crawling down the street when she got into that car.

  6. I think Mercury basically died of neglect. No compelling reason to buy one. It became nothing more than a badge at the end of its life.

    Ford had better start trying harder with Lincoln or they will suffer the same fate. Cadillac is kicking butt in the segment.

  7. You don't realize how spoiled you were until things jog your memory later in life. My father was an electrical engineer at Ford and frequently brought home test cars filled with gauges to monitor whatever they were "fixing". I remember 1970-71 Mark IIIs, big Lincoln Continentals, Cougars, Mustangs, and Panteras. Panteras! Do you know what that does to a car crazy 10-11 yo! I just wanted to sit in the cars all night after he got home from work. Playing and dreaming. Distinctly remember a red and a yellow one, though I'm pretty sure the yellow was a 1973. I've been a Pantera fan ever since. Very nice homage to the original Casey! The early seventies WERE the days when Lincoln-Mercury meant something - too bad it couldn't have happened again.

  8. I distinctly remember the first Pantera. The LIncoln-Mercury dealer in our town made a huge deal of them. They even hired an Italian saleswoman named Lucia to sell them! It was the first time we had seen a female car salesman, and my mother used to kid my Dad nonstop about her. She was gorgeous, like an older Sophia Loren back in the day, and my dad would flirt uncontrollably, lol. The Pantera they had at the start was Chrome Yellow like the one in the ads. I have one of the very large, thick-stock brochures from the first year. Must be packed away. As soon as it's cool enough to peruse the attic I'll find it.

  9. Mercury could have used the underpinnings of the late Ford GT, but they were stupid and let both the model and Mercury brand die.

    The Ford dealer near me has a brand new Mariner outside and I really feel sorry for the poor thing. I would buy it if I had the balls and money.

  10. Yes, I thought of a Pantera when I saw this as well. Well done. Wasted model name, no doubt.