A new convertible concept debuting at this year’s Chicago Auto Show points to future possibilities for Mercury and for the all-new 2003 Mercury Marauder four-door performance sedan that goes on sale this summer.
The Marauder Convertible builds on the popularity of the sedan, which is designed to deliver a 1960s muscle car experience with contemporary driving dynamics, comfort and safety. It is designed to be like no other vehicle:
•Its supercharged 335-horsepower V-8 delivers more horsepower than any other full size convertible priced less than $85,000.
•It is a five-passenger convertible. All other convertibles on the market today only seat two or four passengers.
•Rear seat room is generous. At approximately 38 inches, the convertible’s rear seat legroom is the same as Marauder sedan’s.
•While true to its American muscle car heritage, it is thoroughly modern – with low emissions, cutting-edge safety and driving dynamics that balance comfort with control.
‘The Marauder and the Marauder Convertible concept say a lot about the next generation of Mercury vehicles, which we’re defining now,’ says Brian Kelley, president of Lincoln Mercury. ‘Both Marauders have heritage, performance and charisma. You’ll see these same qualities in future Mercurys.’
Over the next five years, eight new Mercury products are planned, including two all-new sedans, a new multi-purpose vehicle and specialty image-building niche products.
The 2003 Mercury Marauder sedan goes on sale this summer. Pricing will be announced closer to launch. At this time, the convertible is purely a concept, but public reaction will be closely monitored to gauge whether sufficient demand exists to justify a full development program.
The Marauder Convertible brings together types of vehicles that have become Mercury signatures: premium cars with outstanding performance and comfort, and stylish convertibles.
The Marauder Convertible concept’s lineage includes these notable vehicles:
•1939 Series 99A Convertible: Ford Motor Company created the Mercury brand to offer premium products between the Ford and Lincoln brands, and a convertible was offered in 1939, the first model year.
•1949 Mercury Series 9CM: James Dean drove a de-chromed Mercury six-passenger coupe in the movie ‘Rebel Without a Cause.’ Mercury coupes went on to become the car of choice for performance tuners and hot-rodders.
•1950 Mercury Series OMC Convertible: Mercury’s first Indianapolis 500 pace car was driven by Benson Ford, Henry Ford’s grandson.
•1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser Convertible: Mercury’s second Indianapolis 500 pace car
•1963 ½-1964 Mercury Marauder: The first Mercury Marauders were performance versions of Mercury’s mainstream sedans, the Montclair and Monterey. They made their debut at the dawn of the muscle car era and were designed to capitalize on the success of the Bill Stroppe prepared Marauder stock cars, including the one that Parnelli Jones drove to victory in the 1963 Pikes Peak Hill Climb.
•1966 Mercury Cyclone GT Convertible: Once again, Benson Ford drove a Mercury pace car at the Indianapolis 500. His Cyclone GT convertible was super-tuned to achieve 0-60 mph in 7 seconds.
•1967 Mercury Cougar: The first Cougar – Mercury’s luxurious pony car – was named Motor Trend magazine’s ‘Car of the Year.’
•1968 Mercury Parklane Brougham 4-door: Actor Jack Lord drove a triple black Mercury on the hit television series ‘Hawaii Five-O.’
•1969 and 1970 Mercury Marauder X-100: 1969 marked the return of the Marauder, which included the feature-packed top-of-the line Marauder X-100, which was powered by a 429 cubic-inch V-8 engine.
‘Since the day we began work on the first Marauder concept, everyone on the team knew we were building a car for customers who were like ourselves – total gear heads who remember what it was like to drive cars that made you feel like you owned the road,’ says Steve Babcock, Marauder project manager. ‘I think the Marauder Convertible may be the ultimate car for Woodward Avenue or Mulholland Drive because it has the performance we remember, the comfort and roominess of a Mercury sedan, and nothing but open sky when the top is down.’
The Mercury team, like most enthusiasts, knows the engine is the heart and soul of a car. Even though the sedan’s normally aspirated, all-aluminum 4.6-liter DOHC V-8 will produce 300 horsepower and 310 lbs.-ft of torque, the team craved even more torque for the convertible to give it the performance feel of a 1960s ‘big block’ V-8 off the line. So, they chose the same supercharged 4.6-liter SOHC V-8 that appeared in the 1998 Marauder sedan concept.
This iron block engine with aluminum cylinder heads and two valves per cylinder produces 335 horsepower at 5,250 rpm and 355 lbs.-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm. The engine breathes through a high-flow filter and aluminum upper and lower intake manifolds. A belt-driven Eaton Gen 4 Supercharger- Model 90 produces 6 psi of boost. The Roots-type supercharger is mated to a dual-core air-to-water intercooler, which extracts heat from the compressed air charge to improve combustion efficiency. Premium unleaded fuel is fed to the engine through a dual-bore 57 mm throttle body and high-flow fuel injectors. The compression ratio is 9.85:1.
To minimize exhaust backpressure – and make a bold visual and auditory statement – the six-brick catalyst system uses 2-inch diameter high-flow stainless steel exhaust pipes through the hot end and 2.25-inch tailpipes out of the muffler with 3.5-inch stain less steel Megs tips. Under acceleration, the exhaust note is aggressive, with the unmistakable sound of a large American V-8 engine, but overall sound levels are very subdued when cruising for a surprisingly tranquil cabin.
To handle the torque of the supercharged engine, Marauder uses a heavy-duty four-speed transmission with overdrive. For good off-the-line performance, the team went to their drag racing playbooks and added a reinforced 11¼-inch high-stallspeed torque converter with a heavy-duty 1-inch, one-way clutch.
The high stall speed allows engine revolutions to rise into the peak power band before torque is transmitted to the rear wheels. A 3.55:1 rear axle with an 8.8-inch ring gear and limited slip differential also enhances launch performance and acceleration.
Under-hood detailing recalls the heritage of the ‘Super Marauder’ production and stock car engines:
•The black painted cam covers are adorned with badges that recall the original red, white and blue Super Marauder badges from 1963.
•The exhaust manifolds are finished in black.
The chassis shared by both the Marauder Convertible concept and the production Marauder sedan is capable of delivering a combination of ride, handling, braking and safety performance unattainable in the heyday of the muscle car era.
The full perimeter frame has several significant enhancements compared with the frame used on full-size Mercury sedans before the 2003 model year:
•Strong but lightweight hydroformed steel is used for the front rails for good performance in full and offset frontal impacts.
•The critical number two crossmember – which serves as a mounting surface for the steering rack, engine mounts and the suspension’s lower control arms – is now a solid cast-aluminum piece. This strong, lightweight crossmember provides a precise mounting surface and better alignment tolerances than a steel crossmember.
•The steel crossmember that ties the frame together behind the A-pillar is a more robust design that improves the frame’s resistance to torsion and bending forces. This new member is designed to help manage side impact crash forces by transferring energy across the frame structure into the opposite rail.
All told, the sedan frame’s torsional rigidity has been increased by 24 percent, and its resistance to vertical bending has been improved by 20 percent. A frame that resists twisting and bending allows the suspension components to operate more efficiently. It also limits the transmission of noise, vibration and harshness into the body structure.
The independent front suspension uses a short and long-arm design with steel upper and aluminum lower control arms and coil-over-shock springs with Tokico monotube dampers. Monotube dampers were selected because they are more efficient and ‘tunable’ than conventional twin-tube shocks because the damping pistons have a larger effective area. Heat dissipation also is improved.
To reduce lateral suspension compliance for crisp turn-in with reduced body roll, the Marauder sedan and convertible use a 28mm solid front Gripper™ stabilizer bar system. This system provides enhanced on-center steering response and better high-speed lane change stability.
Upper and lower control arms and a lateral Watt’s linkage locate the live-axle rear suspension. Load-leveling air springs and monotube dampers manage impacts. The rear air springs help maintain the car’s ride height even when the trunk is fully loaded and are very effective at absorbing minor road imperfections.
The combination of air springs and monotube dampers also is effective at managing the unsprung mass of the solid axle, which keeps the rear of the vehicle firmly planted during cornering on rough roads or washboard surfaces. A 21mm solid rear stabilizer bar, which uses rubber bushings, further improves body roll and tracking.
The steering system is rack-and-pinion with speed-sensitive variable power assist. Previous full-size Mercurys used a recirculating ball steering system. Because a rack-and-pinion system has fewer links, operating friction and compliance in the system are substantially reduced, which improves steering feel and precision. The new system also weighs 22.5 pounds less.
Other steering changes include a new intermediate steering shaft design called a swing link, which helps reduce operating friction compared with the old system. The steering knuckle is now cast aluminum for an additional five-pound weight savings.
For the convertible’s wheels and tires, the Marauder team selected strong but lightweight 18 x 8-inch, 10-spoke forged aluminum-alloy wheels shod with ultra-high-performance BFGoodrich g-Force T/A tires. The P245/55WR18 rear tires have a higher aspect ratio than the P235/50WR18 front tires to give the car a muscle car rake. The rear tires also have a slightly larger contact patch for maximum traction under acceleration.
These tires have an asymmetrical tread with sidewall inserts to enhance steering response.
In addition, the steel belts are reinforced with spiral-wound nylon to provide high-speed durability while minimizing weight and optimizing ride quality.
The concept shares the Marauder sedan’s 12-inch vented front and 11-inch rear brake rotors with twin-piston front and single-piston rear calipers.
The Marauder Convertible concept’s monochromatic body is finished in black gloss paint. Dark-tinted headlamps and taillamp bezels flow from the black exterior to continue the serious, but understated appearance. Unmistakable but subtle performance cues include the high intensity Cibié fog lamps integrated into the fascia, the three-inch chrome exhaust tips and the ‘Marauder’ name embossed on the rear bumper.
The Mercury Marauder sent the message that the V-8 rear-drive muscle car is back. The convertible concept shows customers the possibilities for fun Marauder can create with its top down,’ said Steve Park, Marauder chief designer.
The car’s lowered front suspension gives it an aggressive, muscle-car stance that is reinforced by the large 18-inch wheels and tires. The classic image of the Roman god Mercury is cast into each of the wheel caps to further communicate the car’s personality and heritage.
Like the Marauder sedan, the convertible is true to classic Mercury and Marauder heritage with added luxury touches for comfort. Inside, dual eight-way-power reclining bucket seats are appointed in rich black leather with classic French seam stitching derived from vintage Marauders. The seats have extra padding for better thigh, lumbar, and shoulder support. A modern rendition Mercury god’s head is debossed into the front seat backs.
For the convertible, the safety belts are seat-integrated for easier egress and ingress. Power adjustable accelerator and brake pedals are standard to help accommodate tall and short stature drivers.
On all Marauders, modern, technical-looking dot matrix gray trim accents the instrument panel.
A leather-wrapped floor shifter highlights the floor console area that flows into space for two-cup holders and a high storage bin for CDs and cell phones.
The white-faced gauges include a 7,000-rpm tachometer that redlines at 6,250 rpm. The 140-mph speedometer has a red-lit ‘Marauder’ graphic. Auto Meter® brand high-performance oil-pressure and voltmeter gauges are located just in front of the shifter.
The audio system is a 140-watt Alpine AM/FM/CD/cassette player (a 6-CD changer is optional on the sedan) with four 100-amp speakers and a rear subwoofer for excellent top-down sound quality. For convenience, the steering wheel features secondary audio and climate controls.
The Marauder team refused to sacrifice passenger space when designing the convertible, so the interior package is the same as a Marauder sedan. The trunk is roomy and offers additional cargo-carrying convenience – golf clubs and athletic equipment can actually fit in the trunk, unlike; most modern convertibles. If produced for sale, the Marauder Convertible’s top would be a fully lined power-folding unit that would store cleanly under a hard tonneau cover.
The Marauder Convertible concept and sedan include several advanced safety technologies, including four-wheel antilock disc brakes, side-impact air bags and the Personal Safety System.
The Personal Safety System is one of the most comprehensive driver and front seat passenger restraint systems available. It includes dual-stage front air bags that deploy based on crash severity; sensors to detect if front-seat occupants are wearing safety belts; seat weight sensors; driver’s seat position sensor; safety-belt pretensioners and load-limiting retractors.
In addition, the BeltMinder™ system rings a chime to remind front seat occupants to buckle up. Standard child-safety seat tether anchors are located in the parcel tray behind all three rear-seating positions.
All Marauders also feature the Securilock™ passive anti-theft system, which prevents the vehicle from being started unless a key containing a uniquely encoded computer chip is inserted into the ignition.
Price this car:
MSRP: $33,770 – $33,770
Invoice: $30,858 – $30,858
Source: Mercury Press Release