by Dave Weber
Pictures by Zach Morecraft
In 1939, Ford Motor Corporation opted to introduce a new marque for their midline marketing position. They called it Mercury and even though WWII began soon after, Mercury did find a successful niche between the expensive Lincoln and the least costly Ford. The first Mercurys utilized much of the existing Ford body styling and parts, but did feature many enhancements to differentiate it from the existing Ford product.
After WWII ceased and the US again became a peaceful nation, the Mercury began using Lincoln parts and styling in the late 1940s. The Lincoln - Mercury Division was established and continues to exist at the present time. Even though Mercury still uses many Lincoln styling cues, the marque has succeeded in maintaining its' own identity.
Probably the first Mercurys to become extra popular were the 1949-1951 body styles. The coupe bodies were subsequently used by many and various professional and novice customizers ! During 1954- 1956, Mercury and companion Ford introduced a new styling concept on some of their 2 door Hardtop models. This consisted of the front section of the roof being removed and replaced with a tinted Plexiglas panel . The Mercury model was called the Sun Valley. In 1957, Mercury introduced a very radically styled model called the Turnpike Cruiser. This car featured a reverse slanted rear window and concave rear fender fins and other modern enhancements. Some people liked them; others did not!
In 1967 Mercury introduced the 2 Door Hardtop Coupe called the Cougar. It was a sister/ companion model to the already successful Ford Mustang. The Cougar "Muscle Car" version was called the Eliminator. But unlike the Mustang, the Cougar name subsequently was used as a model series which also included Convertibles, Sedans and Station Wagons in addition to the original Hardtop! This model series was discontinued after 1997.
In 1999, Mercury reintroduced the Cougar name. This time it was used it on a smaller frame European built 4 passenger 2 door car. But , except for the name it showed no resemblance to the former series. And it too was discontinued in 2001.
Please note that the Capri and Merkur , which were sold by Mercury dealers were intentionally omitted since they were not assembled in America. . The only reason the Second Edition Cougar was mentioned is because of the name !
On about May 25, 2010, Ford Motor Corporation announced the forthcoming demise of this marque. With the present economic conditions and the visible similarity with Ford , this announcement was expected by many car aficionados.
Small scale diecast metal models of the Mercury are fairly plentiful. The models that have been identified are listed below in alphabetical order by the toy/ model manufacturer with additional notations added where necessary. There is no guarantee that all existing models have been included . Additions in the Comments Section are welcome!
1968 Cougar #457
AURORA - This plastic model had a metal baseplate
1967 Cougar Hardtop #6116
CASTLINE- M2 MACHINE
1954 Sun Valley Hardtop
1967 XR-7 with blue emergency roof lights
1969 Cougar Convt die # 655 . This model was actually made by Johnny Lightning in the James Bond Series and was made available to Europe by Corgi after they placed their own identifying baseplate on it.
1969 Cougar from the American Muscle Series
1949 Coupe customized as a promotional for Tech Net Professionals
1939 ? Custom "Mercohaulic" Coupe
1948 "Woody" Station Wagon
1949-51 Purple Passion Customized Coupe , Convt, Station Wagon ,etc.
Between the representative years of 1949-1951, Hot Wheels issued a large sampling of customized models .
Some of these were more detailed than others.
Because of the amount of customizing , it is difficult to identify the actual year of manufacture.
1956 Hardtop Convt
67-69 Cougar (first issued in 1968 with retooled versions issued since)
1969 Custom Cougar and " Nitty Gritty Kitty"
2001 Custom Cougar ( Second Generation)
1951 Custom Coupe
JET WHEELS by Mego ( formerly AMT)
1967 Cougar #9102
1949 Coupe #751
1949-1950 2 door Station Wagon
1949-1951 Rowe's Mercury #752
1951 Custom Coupe
1967 Cougar Coupe #095
1968-1969 Cougar Eliminator
1970 Cougar Convt # 655
1970 Montego Cyclone #097
1971 Stock Car Legend Cyclone # 081 and Montego Cyclone models
1950 Convt Chase Car
1967 Cougar Hardtop
1968 Commuter Station Wagon # 73-C
1968 Park Lane Police #55-F
1968 Cougar Coupe #62-C
1968 Cougar ( more recent casting- some show open headlights in grille area)
1968 Cougar Villager Station Wagon #74-E
1987 Sable Station Wagon
1949 Coupe # 6075
1950 Convt Customized
1969 Cougar Eliminator
STREET REBELS ( Playing Mantis)
1969 Cougar " Alley Cat"
? Station Wagon Fire Chief # 1015
It is interesting that while writing these articles and reviewing my collection of models that I always seem to learn something new. Many times , I have discovered duplicate models I was not aware I had in my collection! I usually collect only one casting representing each model. And in this article, Zach pointed my attention to the fact that Johnny Lightning produced both 1970 and 1971 models of the Cyclone and Montego, which although very similar in appearance were different series of models in 1970. In 1971, according to sources including www.jlcollector.com.
The former two series of Mercury cars were combined into a single Montego Cyclone model which has very minor styling modifications in the grille. Unfortunately, I did not realize this and never obtained the 1971 model during its availability! We learn something new everyday!