The 1969 Mercury Marauder exemplifies the tradition of big 1960s performance cars that kept similar models in production even when sales had long since tapered off. Mercury maintained a token presence in this limited market through 1967 with various S-55s, and many thought those large, sporty Mercurys would be the last of their breed. Two years later, however, the Big M released another big bruiser, this one invoking the hallowed Marauder name.
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It was, to say the least, poorly timed. Not only had the performance action long since shifted to the mid-size ranks, but soaring insurance rates and more government-mandated safety and emissions standards promised to sap all Detroit performance cars, regardless of size. The reborn Marauder was thus doomed to fail.
As a car, though, this Marauder succeeded. Essentially it was a "Mercuryized" version of Ford's fully redesigned 1969 XL, with an identical wheelbase that was three inches shorter than on other big Mercurys. Lincoln-Mercury didn't bother with a convertible like Ford, contenting itself with a hardtop coupe in base and pricier X-100 trim.
Mercury's top-shelf Marquis donated a hidden-headlamp "power dome" front, while a flying buttress roofline with upright "tunneled" backlight were shared with the Ford. X-l00s sported styled wheels and rear fender skirts (both optional on the base model) plus matte-black "sports tone" rear-deck finish. The latter could be deleted for credit or by ordering the extra-cost vinyl roof.
With abundant front-seat room, decent rear-cabin space, and cavernous 18 cubic-foot trunk, the Marauder was a perfect long-haul mile-eater. But so were other big Mercurys, and price competition was fierce.
Though 1969 Marauder starting prices were attractively low at $3,368 for the base version and $4,091 for the X-100, delivered prices broke $5,000 with air and other popular options -- only $1,000 or so below the likes of Ford Thunderbird, Buick Riviera, and Oldsmobile Toronado. Pontiac, meantime, had a smaller, more nimble new Grand Prix starting at just under $3,900. Buyers voted with their wallets and Marauder lost: under 15,000 model-year sales -- barely three percent of total Mercury volume -- versus over 112,000 Grand Prixs.
The Marauder returned for 1970, little changed except for sales, which dropped by more than half (to 6,043 total, including a mere 2,646 X-l00s). Sumo-size sporty cars had by then outlived their usefulness at Mercury and elsewhere, and the Marauder -- despite its appeal -- would never be back, nor even missed.
Go to the next page to learn about the Mercury Marauder's performance.
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The 1969 Mercury Marauder was billed as having "the prowling instincts of Cougar, the elegance of Continental." At 79.5 inches wide and a minimum of two tons, it was hardly pony-car-lithe, but it was definitely Lincoln-lush. Base Marauders boasted deep-pile carpeting, simulated burl-walnut accents, and cloth/vinyl upholstery fit for a sofa -- which aptly describes the standard front bench seat.
X-100s offered additional woodgraining, "Rim-Blow" steering wheel, and three seat/trim packages: leather/vinyl front bench with dual center armrests; a split "Twin Comfort" bench with optional reclining right backrest; and all-vinyl or optional leather trim with front buckets and a center console mounting a horseshoe-shaped transmission selector.
Most Marauders were equipped with SelectShift automatic, though a three-speed manual was standard. Engine choices numbered four V-8s. X-100s carried Dearborn's big new 429 with four-barrel carb, 10.5:1 compression, a conservative 360-horsepower rating, and a massive 480 pounds/feet of torque. This was optional for base Marauders, which came with Ford's workhorse two-barrel 390, good for 265 bhp on 9.5:1 compression. There was also a pair of two-barrel base-model options: a high-compression 280-bhp "390P" and a 320-bhp 429.
Performance naturally depended on equipment. Despite a loping 2.80:1 rear axle, the X-100 was capable of about eight seconds 0-60 mph, standing quarter-miles of just under 16 seconds at 86-88 mph, and upwards of 125 mph flat out. Mileage was predictably piggish -- Motor Trend's X-100 returned only 10.8 mpg -- making the big 24-gallon fuel tank more necessity than luxury.
Heavy-duty Autolite shocks were standard, and X-100s rolled on wide-tread fiberglass-belted tires, but press-on types ordered the cheap ($31.10) "competition suspension," which Car and Driver said provided "very reassuring" shock control. Still, understeer and body roll were prominent regardless of chassis tuning, but the ride was typical Mercury, thanks in part to a new perimeter frame with four torque boxes.
For the 1969 Mercury Marauder's specifications, go to the next page.
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1969 Mercury Marauder Specifications
It may not have been as nimble as a pony car, but the 1969 Mercury Marauder had power. Below are the specifications for the 1969 Mercury Marauder:
Engines: all ohv V-8; 390 cid (4.05 × 3.78), 265/280 bhp; 429 cid, (4.36 × 3.59), 320/360 bhp
Transmissions: 3-speed manual, SelectShift 3-speed automatic
Suspension front: upper and lower A-arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Suspension rear: 4-link live axle, coil springs
Brakes: front/rear drums; front discs optional
Wheelbase (in.): 121.0
Weight (lbs.): 4,045-4,200
Top speed (mph): 125
0-60 mph (sec): 8.0