The 1963-1964 Mercury Marauder marked the first time the name Marauder was applied to a car -- after Mercury used the Marauder moniker to denote its brawniest engines in the late 1950s.
It's a handle that probably wouldn't be considered today: the safety lobby would surely condemn it as fostering reckless driving, while Mercury marketers would likely veto it as not reflecting the typical buyer's lifestyle. But Mercury was on the prowl even in those pre-Cougar days, and Marauder was perfect for what it was trying to accomplish.
The company's apparent goal was to recapture a performance image more or less abandoned after 1956. Significantly, that was the last year Mercury won a major stock-car race until 1963, when Parnelli Jones drove a new Marauder fastback to victory, launching a string of Mercury triumphs in NASCAR that would run well into the 1970s.
And racing -- or rather improved aerodynamics for higher top speed -- was the main reason behind the 1963 Mercury Marauder and its new-for-1963 Ford cousin, the Galaxie 500 Sports Hardtop.
After several years of a self-imposed truce, the Big Three had resumed open track warfare, and Dearborn's blocky period rooflines were a decided disadvantage in long-distance events on newer high-speed supertracks like Daytona.
Taking a cue from their own 1960-1961 Ford Starliner, Dearborn designers sliced the old boxy superstructure from their big hardtop body, raked the windshield to lower overall height about 1.5 inches, then applied a new roofline sloped more gradually to the rear deck. The result wasn't quite as smooth or slick as the Starliner, but it made a big difference on the track. Better still, it looked racy, yet somehow "formal" enough to appeal to Mercury's usual clientele.
Compared to Ford's prosaic Sports Hardtop handle, Marauder seemed a more appropriate title for this slicked-down hardtop coupe. Mercury must have thought so, too, for it nailed bold name-script onto its cars' front fenders. However, there was no mistaking the fastback Marauder with its "lesser kin," as other models wore the "Breezeway" roof, a fling with the retractable, reverse-slant rear window first seen on 1958-1960 Continental Marks.
Though undoubtedly conceived after the fact, the Mercury Marauder's semi-fastback roof mated handsomely with the big 1963 Mercury's reskinned lower body, marked by an attractive full-width concave grille, Lincolnesque chrome-edged beltline, and a reshaped tail with triple lamp clusters.
Like its sister division, Mercury initially fielded a bench-seat Marauder, in the Monterey Custom line, and a buckets-and-console version, in sporty S-55 trim. Sales were respectable for a half-year model at just under 7,300, though Ford did far better with over 135,000 Sports Hardtop Galaxies.
On the next page, learn about the continued inspiration brought to the 1964 Mercury Marauder.
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1964 Mercury Marauder
The 1964 Mercury Marauder was part of Mercury's 25th Anniversary. In partial observance of its anniversary, Mercury returned to its four-series big-car model group of the late 1950s, with price-leader Monterey, midrange Montclair, and posh Park Lane, plus a parallel Station Wagon line.
Marauders multiplied to six, with a hardtop coupe and new hardtop sedan in each series. Styling for the 1964 Mercury Marauder was elegantly evolved from 1963, with a redesigned front end being the biggest change. S-55s took a vacation, but a new Sports Package option made two-door Park Lanes, including the Marauder, into something similar.
Any 1964 Mercury Marauder could be a real rocket, as engine options expanded to include new big-block 427s with 410 or 425 horsepower. But, of course, these were mainly for racing. For most Mercury buyers, the smooth, durable 390, still offering from 250 up to 330 horses, was more than adequate.
Racing Marauders began asserting themselves in 1964, winning five NASCAR and seven USAC events. But again, the slantback Fords did better still, both on the track (30 victories in NASCAR alone) and in the showroom. The Ford garnered nearly 73,000 sales compared to less than 34,000 for Marauder. Of course, the Mercurys cost more than the Fords, though not a lot, but Marauders still cost no more than comparable Breezeways.
Though long overshadowed by contemporary big Fords, the full-size 1963-1964 Mercurys exhibit similar sterling qualities (no surprise, as all used the same basic platform). Chief among these are robust construction, superb ride, competent handling, and strong, silent V-8 performance.
Even a mild 390-cid Mercury Marauder could pull 0-60 mph in 8-9 seconds; the 427 could lower that to near seven seconds -- thrilling even today. A pity these cars don't get the collector recognition they deserve, but it is often thus with Mercurys versus Fords.
The Mercury Marauder story pretty much ends with 1964 and for two obvious reasons. Sporty full-size cars were fast giving way to mid-size muscle on street and track alike, and the all-new big 1965 Mercurys abruptly retreated from overt performance toward a luxury orientation "in the Lincoln Continental tradition." After a token presence on 1965 Montclair and Park Lane hardtops, the Marauder name was again confined to Mercury engine compartments.
See the 1963 and 1964 Mercury Marauder specifications on the next page.
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1963-1964 Mercury Marauder Specifications
The 1963 Mercury Marauder, with its semi-fastback roofline, could be ordered "plain" or in S-55 trim. S-55 was dropped for 1964, when Mercury Marauders came in two body styles (coupe and hardtop sedan) with three levels of trim -- six models in all. The Montclair Marauder was the mid-line series. Standard engine was a 390 V-8 with 250 bhp, though four-barrel versions offered up to 330 bhp.
Engines: all ohv V-8; 1963-1964: 390 (4.05 x 3.78), 250/300/330 bhp (1963), 250/266/300/330 bhp (1964); 1963: 406 (4.13 x 3.78), 385/405 bhp; 1964: 427 (4.23 x 3.78), 410/425 bhp
Transmissions: 3/4-speed manual, 3-speed manual w/ overdrive Dual-Range Merc-O-Matic automatic
Suspension front: upper and lower A-arms, coil spring
Suspension rear: live axle on semi-elliptic leaf springs
Brakes: front/rear drums
Wheelbase (in.): 120.0
Weight (lbs.): 3,887-4,056
Top speed (mph): 110-125+
0-60 mph (sec): 7.0-9.5