When it comes to American automakers, Ford has been around for a very long time, so it’s seen plenty of ups and downs. In fact, one of the automaker’s oldest brands, Mercury, made some hits, but it also produced some flops. Here’s a look at three of the worst models that might’ve killed the longtime brand.
1987 Mercury Sable
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As far as a car brand goes, Mercury was supposed to be a compromise choice for consumers. A regular Ford vehicle offered a practical and affordable option, while a Lincoln car represented a more luxurious but expensive one. Mercury was supposed to be a choice for folks who wanted a bit of both. But that’s not what ended up happening with the Sable.
According to MotorTrend, the Sable was based on the Ford Taurus, but it didn’t actually change much other than its name. Like the Taurus, the Sable was a successful car for a time. However, like its Ford cousin, the Sable eventually retired.
The main reason why the Sable stopped selling well was simple, HotCars reports. Rather than a compromise between practicality and luxury, the Sable was more Taurus than not. It didn’t offer anything a higher-end car should have. So Mercury discontinued the Sable shortly before the brand itself died.
1992 Mercury Capri
The third and final Capri generation was a captive import, MotorTrend reports. It was a small, sporty convertible that offered a choice between two weak engines: a 100-hp one or a turbocharged 132-hp one. However, rather than earn recognition for its looks or performance capabilities, the Capri developed a reputation for a leaky roof.
The car’s reliability was also questionable, MotorTrend reports. But that’s not all. The Mazda Miata, another small, sporty convertible, also debuted around the same time, Jalopnik explains. However, unlike the Mercury, the Mazda ultimately developed a stellar reputation, so it’s no surprise the Miata remains in production today.
By comparison, the Capri flopped in sales, and Mercury canned it by 1994. On top of that, the Capri’s failure marked the end of convertibles for Mercury. It left a bruise on the brand, but it wasn’t over.
The 1999 Cougar, the final generation for the model, was a relatively popular one, Jalopnik reports. Unlike many other Mercury cars, this Cougar generation was unique because Ford didn’t have a clone of it. The Cougar offered two engine choices: a 125-hp inline-four or a 170-hp V6.
This Cougar also earned plenty of fans thanks to its design, Jalopnik says. It was easier on the eyes than many other Mercury cars at the time. However, like other Mercury cars, the Cougar ultimately became the last of a dying breed. Ford discontinued it after the 2002 model year.
As such, the Cougar became the last Mercury that was truly unique to the brand. Every other Mercury car made after the Cougar’s death was simply a Ford model clone, Jalopnik reports. This lack of uniqueness ultimately led to the brand’s demise. Customers didn’t see the point in buying a Mercury when they could get a Ford or a Lincoln instead.
By 2010, that’s what Ford realized too. And in January 2011, Mercury shut down for good.