Internationality and a 1973 Mercury Marquis

This full size sedan from the early Seventies is not well remembered in the 21st Century. Ever-rising fuel prices have not been kind to it in the past four decades, and it wasn’t even a very distinctive car in the first place. Still, I find myself dreaming of this Mercury Marquis, and I think it has a lot to do with going abroad.


It wasn’t until I was surrounded by Peugeots and Seats and Mercedes taxicabs that I really started to appreciate old Mercuries. For longer than I’ve been alive, they’ve just been Fords with the badges taken off and “Mercury” written in their place. That used to really turn me off to them, but that was when I was totally spoiled.

It was easy to grow bored with American cars growing up in California. Mustangs were all over the place, as were Buicks  and Oldsmobiles and Camaros and Firebirds, every one of which was driven by someone who would never associate with me. So I started to yearn for automotive forbidden fruit, gorging myself on internet videos of Alfa Romeos, Bugattis, and Citroëns. I didn’t really care for big old American cars or the old men who drove them.

When I went to Berlin to study abroad for a year, I was at first blown away by the cars I found. Hardly a month went by before I saw my first Citroën SM. It took a while, but as I was getting used to all the little hatchbacks and diesel sedans that were trundling through Berlin, I started to miss the big, overladen cars I’d seen thousands of times over on the highway. Cars like another old Mercury.

And with that, I began to appreciate really massive old American cars like this 19-foot Mercury Marquis. It isn’t stylish like a trim sedan of the 1960s, or impressive like a jukebox barge from the 1950s, but it’s big and it’s bland, and it’s just so damn massive.

Sometimes you just want to go slow and let America drift through the windshield, feeling very satisfied and very patriotic. There’s a certain meditation in cruising in a big car, and this Mercury seems perfectly suited for the job. It might have taken a six thousand mile refuge among the Germans to suss it out, but I think I love this saggy, gray Mercury.

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