Image credits: © Mercury.

2004 Mercury Grand Marquis

The front-runner of the Mercury lineup, the Grand Marquis was a full-size rear-wheel drive sedan that was considered to be a fancier twin of the Ford Crown Victoria. Though not as athletic as more up-to-date models, the Grand Marquis represented old-school automotive design with bulky, yet heavy body-on-frame construction, softly tuned suspension calibrations and a solid rear axle. Enthusiasts prized this Mercury for its spacious interior, plush, soundless ride and bulletproof design rather than its lack of capacity for speed.

As the premium trim level of the Mercury Marquis, the Grand Marquis nameplate had been in use since 1975 and it only became its own unique model in 1983. The car shared its Panther platform with its twin; the Ford Crown Victoria, along with the Lincoln Town Car. At the end of the 2007 model year the retail sales of the Crown Victoria were discontinued leaving the Grand Marquis to take its place as the entry-level Panther-platform model.

Assembled at the St. Thomas Assembly Plant in Canady, the Grand Marquis was also manufactured from 1983 until 1985 at Ford's St. Louis, Missouri facility. In October of 2010 when the Mercury brand was discontinued, the retail production of the Grand Marquis was ended though production for fleet sales continued until January of 2011. On January 4, 2011, the final Mercury ever to be produced rolled off the assembly line.

Once the Marquis nameplate was transitioned to the Fox platform to replace the undesirable sedan and wagon models of the Cougar the Grand Marquis evolved into a model of its own standing in 1983. There have been four generations of the Grand Marquis from 1983 until 2011.

The first generation was introduced in 1983 and ran until 1991. The base model Marquis and Marquis Brougham nameplates were shifted to the mid-sized Fox platform and the Grand Marquis became a model in its own right. Continuing on as Mercury's frontrunner, the Grand Marquis nameplate stayed on the Panther platform. It also continued to be produced at Ford's St. Louis Assembly Plant, though production of the Grand Marquis was moved to St. Thomas Assembly in Canada during the '85 model year. For this year the only updates were in changing the full-sized Marquis into the Grand Marquis was new taillights, a new grille and the addition of Central Fuel Injection; which replaced the two-barrel carburetor.

Offered in three body styles, one could purchase the Grand Marquis as a two-door sedan, a four-door sedan or a station wagon. The station wagon was deleted from the lineup after the 1983 model year. Afterwards it was only available as the wood-grained Colony Park; which shared a lot of the interior trim with the deluxe-trim Grand Marquis LS sedan. At the end of 1986 the 2-door sedan was dropped from the lineup due to slow sales. Today, the Grand Marquis coupes are very difficult to find.

From 1983 until 1985 the 5.0L (302 cu in) 5.0 Windsor V8 engine was the only one offered and it was mated with a four-speed AOD automatic. From '86 until '91 the Grand Marquis was also available with a 5.8 L Windsor V8, though this was not a common option. Though the new car sold well, it didn't update much until 1986 when all production was moved to the St. Thomas plant and it received sequential electronic fuel injection.

To spruce up the styling of the Grand Marquis, both the outside and the inside received some updates in 1988. The update included a brand new front header panel with a rounded grille and other changes that brought the Grand Marquis closer in sync with the rest of the Mercury lineup. The cross-and-wreath emblem that was so familiar to Mercury models was replaced by the new 'flying M'. Block lettering that was on the Sable and Topaz took the place of the serif-style script on the trunk lid and C-pillar. The basic trim level was redubbed the Grand Marquis GS, much like it's Sable and Topaz counterparts. A variety of exclusive options were available on the LS version including a heated windshield, rear air-suspension and JBL audio system with 6 speakers with cassette AM/FM and power antenna.

On the inside the Grand Marquis received enlarged head restraints with a tilt feature along with an update of the dash as one wood trim piece. The instrument cluster was also slightly modified with an all-new look. A driver's side airbag was added in 1990 to go along with the redesigned dashboard. The tilting head restraints were replaced with smaller ones. Mercury was preparing a new Grand Marquis for 1992 and these were the only updates that the model received this year.

Some limousine manufactures used the Mercury Grand Marquis as a less expensive way for limousine livery companies to purchase limousines. These limos were much more popular in Latin America than in the states. Probably the most famous Grand Marquis Limousine was in the 1989 James Bond move 'License to Kill' where villain Franz Sanchez drove a 85 model that was black with a red interior.

The second generation of the Grand Marquis was debuted in the 1992 model year. In this year the Ford and Mercury Panther-platform cars went through their most thorough updates since its arrival in 1979. The second-generation model received brand new sheet metal, similar to its Crown Victoria mate. The new metal was much more rounded and aerodynamic than the earlier generation model. The 1992 redesign finally gave the Grand Marquis and Ford equivalent the needed differentiation following decades of badge engineering that had made the two basically twins. The designers of the Grand Marquis kept a number of the features from the previous year model, while the Crown Victoria was heavily influenced by the Ford Taurus design. Carried over from the 1992 model was the formal roofline, chrome waterfall grille and full-width taillights. The grille eventually became a styling cue adopted by almost all Mercury models produced in the late 1990s and the 2000s.
Replacing both the 302 and 351 Windsor OHV V8 engines previously available, the updated Grand Marquis received the 4.6 L (281 cu in) SOHC Modular V8 engine. The Modular V8 became the first single overhead-cam V8 utilized in an American-market full-size sedan. Replacing the earlier rear drum brakes were four-wheel disc brakes with optional ABS. Traction control became an option. Dual airbags were made standard equipment after 1992 while the passenger-side airbag was optional for 1992. The electronically-controlled AOD-E transmission was debuted for 1993. The 4.6 L SOHC V8 single exhaust had 190 hp with a 2.73 rear axle ratio for 1992 until 1997. With 210 hp the 4.6 L SOHC V8 dual exhaust came with a 3.27 rear axle ratio and handling suspension.

The Grand Marquis was updated again for 1995. On the outside the bumpers and side cladding were painted thoroughly in body color while the amount of chrome was reduced. The front turn signal clusters were changed in design while the parking light/turn signal clusters on the front of the model were reduced in size. The waterfall grille at the front became more rounded in shape and fit tighter to the bumper and headlamps. The license plate was relocated from the bumper to in between the taillights. The lettering was also changed to italicized block lettering for the first time since 1988.

The whole inside of the Grand Marquis was updated with the majority of attention paid to the dashboard. Models that featured analog instrument gauges had round gauges that replaced the horizontal speedometer. Sliding climate controls were replaced with rotary climate controls after the location was switched with the radio; which was a new corporate radio/cassette head unit with big buttons. The power seat controls could now be found on the door panels with enlarged buttons for the power windows and door locks if specified this way.

The biggest update mechanically was the switch to the 4R70W transmission. For '96 the Grand Marquis replaced the first-generation airbag steering wheel with the smaller one used in numerous other Ford and Mercury sedans. The following year the Mercury logos were deleted from the C-pillars.

The third generation of the Grand Marquis was debuted for 1998 and completely updated with a brand new front and rear fascia, grille, bumpers, hood, lights, wheels and mirrors. Though it looked similar to the '92-'97 model, the only remaining body panels were the roof and the door. Some slight interior changes were made along with more optional features. Ford's Panther-platform models no longer received direct competition from General Motors unlike the earlier generation before, until 2002 when Mercury brought in almost 100,000 Grand Marquis sales. Together the Grand Marquis and Crown Victoria sold over 200,000 models a year, which rose Fords sales quite lucratively.

On the mechanical side, the third generation Grand Marquis received a fail-safe cooling system with a dual speed electric fan along with a coil-on-plug ignition system. Added to the front were larger dual piston brake calipers that now required 16-inch wheels to be standard. Added to the rear suspension was a Watt's linkage while fuel lines were relocated to the passenger side frame rail. Newly introduced was a coded ignition key known as Passive Anti-Theft System; or 'PATS' along with a 72 amp/hour battery that replaced the previous 58. Other slight updates included a newly redesigned engine color and the power steering fluid reservoir moved to the front of the engine. The Grand Marquis LSE was debuted in 2002 and featured rear air suspension, the higher rear axle ratio and the dual exhaust 4.6 L engine.

From 1998 until 2000, the 4.6 L SOHC V8 single exhaust engine had 200 hp with a 2.73 rear axle ratio. The dual exhaust had 215 hp and came with a 3.27 rear axle ratio and handling suspension. From 2001 until 2002 the 4.6 L SOHC V8 single exhaust had 220 hp with a 2.73 rear axle ratio while the dual had 235 hp and came with 3.27 rear axle ratio and handling suspension.

The fourth generation Grand Marquis landed on the scene in 2003 and remained there until 2011. It remained relatively unchanged from the previous generation though it did received new exterior sheet-metal that consisted mostly of new headlight clusters and a larger grille. To give it an updated look the bumpers and trunk-lid fascia were also updated. On the inside the interior was also revamped with brand new door panels, door handles and switchgear along with an optional overhead console. The B-pillars were now painted body color on GS-trim models. Newly available were side airbags while a dual media cassette/CD player was made standard. A valet key was made standard and a shoulder belt was added for the rear middle passenger seat.

A 'Limited Edition' variation of the LS model was sold from 2003 until 2005. This model included an appearance package and showcased chromed mirrors, a two-tone leather interior and body colored door handles. The Limited Edition models also came with standard side airbags.

Various interior upgrades were made in 2005 and they included new wood trim, a redesigned steering wheel, chrome interior door release handles and an Audiophile 6 disc in-dash CD changer. The CD changer was optional on the LS Series. This was the only model year where the vehicle had a whip antenna rather than one constructed into the rear window. Halfway through 2005 a top of the line LSE trim level was added to the lineup. A deleted feature for this year was the steering wheel lock feature.

Mercury sold two variations of the full-side Panther platforms for the first time since the 1991 Colony Park station wagon. Sold from 2003 to 2004 was the high-performance Mercury Marauder muscle sedan.

Mechanically the main difference between the 2002 and 2003 Grand Marquis models were much more extensive than the updates of 1995 and 1998. From the bottom up, Ford had redesigned the frame of all the Panther-platform models. Frame rails were now fully boxed and hydro-formed. To improve handling, the rear and front suspension were redesigned along with the brakes. The new suspension updates called for changing wheel designs to those with a high positive offset. In an effort to reduce costs and increase steering precision the rack and pinion steering replaced the old recirculating ball system.

Made standard was an engine knock sensor along with six-quart 5.7 L oil pan; which was 20% larger than the 2002 model. Added this year was a silent EBD brake booster with a mechanical panic assist system. Other updates included an electronic return-less fuel system and an intake manifold with aluminum water crossover. Some slight changes were made this year that included a newly redesigned engine cover with a chrome V8 logo. The power steering fluid reservoir was relocated to the radiator surround from the front of the engine. The oil fill cap was also moved to the passenger valve cover.

For the 2005 model year a variety of mechanical changes were made and included the introduction of electronic throttle control moving the cruise control function to the main computer. The front seats received occupant weight sensors; which allowed the drive to disable the passenger airbag. Two new front crash severity sensors were also added along with a new steering column with a two-spoke steering wheel. A mast antenna was also added to the right quarter panel. The 4.6 L SOHC V8 single exhaust for 2003 until 2005 featured 220 hp with a 2.73 rear axle ratio. The 4.6 L SOHC V8 dual exhaust featured 235 hp and came with a 3.27 rear axle ratio and handling suspension.

The fourth-generation Grand Marquis received yet another facelift for the 2006 model year. On the back end of the vehicle the trunk panel between the taillights went from red to gray. The changes were much more obvious on the front end and in an effort to appear more like the '88-91 models, the rounded grilles that had been used since 1992 were replaced with a rectangular one. A first-time option was fog lights now. The inside of the Grand Marquis received a brand new instrument cluster; which showcased the addition of a tachometer and digital odometer/tripmeter. New wheel designs were now available and the mast antenna previously on the right rear fender was now merged into the rear window. 2006 was the first year for the 4R75E transmission.

LS models received the option of the 'Palm Beach' trim package in 2007. This package consisted mostly of badging and special upholstery. The flex-fuel capability (E85) was added on all models. Additional options for this year included an auto dimming rear view mirror and a conventional spare tire.

2008 brought numerous changes to the Mercury Grand Marquis. These changes included the deletion of the 5-passenger front bucket-seat option and the Handling and Performance Package. Both of these were similar to the Crown Vic's LX Premium Sport and Handling Package. In terms of price the Grand Marquis no longer had a distinct competitor since the Ford Crown Victoria moved entirely to fleet sales at the beginning of the 2008 model year. The Canadian Grand Marquis model was replaced in retail markets by the fifth-generation Ford Taurus.

Dropped from the lineup in 2009 was the base GS trim level which only left 2 variants; the LS Fleet and LS Retail. The LS retail was available only on dealer special orders in the United States exclusively. The LS Fleet was offered for fleet purchase only in the Canada and the United States. Lincoln-Mercury dealers in the U.S. have a 'No stock' rule in effect for the Grand Marquis, since incentives as high as $4000 were becoming a requirement to remove them from dealer lots after several months.
2010 was the 35th year of Mercury Grand Marquis production. It exceeded the Cougar in length as the longest-produced Mercury. A short run of 2011 Grand Marquis models were produced as the Mercury brand was being phased out. Ford announced on June 2, 2010 that it would end production of all Mercury vehicles by the end of 2010 as it discontinued the brand following 72 years. Retail production ended in September and the last fleet model produced on January 4, 2011; which became the final new Mercury-brand vehicle made by Ford. In September of 2011 the St. Thomas Assembly plant in Ontario, Canada was closed. This also brought to a close the production of the Lincoln Town Car and the Ford Crown Victoria.

The Grand Marquis was the longest-produced Mercury spanning numerous generations and 36 years of continuous production. More than 1.7 millions models were produced, which made it the best-selling vehicle sold by the brand. Of the Ford Mustang, Econo-line, Thunderbird, F-Series and Lincoln Continental nameplates have been produced longer among Ford Motor Company models in the U.S. For the final 19 years of its production life, the Grand Marquis remained basically unchanged. It is considered by many to be nearly unequal by other automakers for its longevity and external appearance.


By Jessica Donaldson
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