2003 Mercury Marauder Photo
Quick Take
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Is Mercury in Ford’s Future? (5/20/2002)



A musclecar experience packaged with contemporary dynamics — that’s how Mercury bills the 2003 Marauder, a hopped-up Grand Marquis with a name harking back to a past when the brand’s product throttle opened a lot wider.

How well does it fill the bill? Of America’s full-size sedans, none has the potential to conjure the musclecar era like the Grand Marquis on which the Marauder’s based. That’s because it’s the only big rear-driver at its price. Coincidentally that’s also the reason it dominates the police-car market.

With a stoked-up version of Ford’s mass-market V-8, it’s a practical and inexpensive foundation for all sorts of mayhem. And when it comes to reviving the true musclecar in four-door form, the Marauder’s virtually alone in its ambition.

So does it win on virtue or single-mindedness?

How about both?

Time bandit

How Mercury gets from the stuffy Grand Marquis to the swinging Marauder is no unsolved mystery: it’s a simple formula, what with its massaged motor, better shocks and gallons of jet-black paint, the same path taken by garage jockeys and Big Three skunkworks alike for decades. (More colors are coming, we’re told.)

Underneath the Marauder looks like a history lesson in how cars used to be made: full frame, iron-block engine and a big V-8 with an automatic transmission. But though the platform might have been born in the late 1970s, it’s gradually edging its way to modernity. Over the years it’s been substantially reworked, and for 2003 use in the Marauder (and Grand Marquis/Crown Victoria) it gains hydroformed front frame rails and new crossmembers for a roughly 20-percent increase in body stiffness. Monotube shocks are fitted, and rack-and-pinion steering also makes the cut for the first time.

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