When talking about mid-1960s American classics, we usually think about the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette, and Pontiac GTO. And it makes sense since muscle cars started becoming popular around this time. But the truth is US dealerships were loaded with all sorts of cool vehicles.
Sure, the bread-and-butter full-size sedans of the era aren’t all that spectacular compared to the high-performance rigs, but some land yachts came with big power under the hood. Whether we’re talking about the Ford Galaxie, Pontiac Catalina, or Chevrolet Impala, they all got optional V8s with more than 400 horsepower at some point. But I’m actually here to talk about a full-size that doesn’t get as much attention as it should: the Mercury Marauder.
A short-lived nameplate, the Marauder was first produced from 1963 to 1965. It returned for a second stint from 1969 to 1970 and revived again from 2003 to 2004. But only the second and third iterations were stand-alone Marauder models. The first version was a trim package available on the Monterey and the Montclair.
The bundle found its way on the Monterey options list halfway through the 1963 model year. And like many performance features of the era, it was introduced with NASCAR homologation in mind. Specifically, Mercury needed a more aerodynamic Monterey on oval tracks, and the Marauder was actually the roofline of the Ford Galaxie hardtop. Available only as a two-door hardtop, the Marauder package could be combined with the Monterey’s S-55 trim.
The bundle remained on the options list for 1964 but was extended to include the four-door model, resulting in a sleek sedan. Additionally, the newly-revived Montclair, a slightly fancier full-size, also got the Marauder trim. 1965 was the final year for the Marauder. But as Mercury was shifting away from full-size performance vehicles, the package was not advertised or mentioned in dealer brochures.
On top of being underappreciated, the Monterey Marauder is also a rare classic. Sure, it’s not as scarce as the six-figure or million-dollar gems from the era, but it’s a rare sight nowadays. The 1964 version, for instance, was built in around 4,000 units. That’s a lot compared to the Ford Thunderbolt of the same model year, made in 100 examples. Still, many Marauders were abandoned in junkyards or locked up in barns. And they soldiered on into the 21st century as rust buckets that aren’t worth restoring.
The example you see here is not quite as rusty, but it’s also in poor shape. Documented by “Classic Ride Society,” it was recently dropped at a junkyard after spending 23 years in someone’s backyard. The window sticker suggests it’s been driven up until 2000, which is a few decades more than most 1964 Marauders out there. Sadly enough, the four-door hardtop is missing many of its original components, including the engine and transmission, and it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. My best guess is that it will get dismantled for parts or sent to the crusher.
That’s a sad fate for a once-gorgeous land yacht powered by a potent V8, but that’s how the cookie crumbles when it comes to many Mercury automobiles from the era. They just don’t get as much attention as their Ford and Lincoln counterparts. What a shame.