While most of us were waving goodbye to 2010, over the weekend, Ford Motor Co. was raising a toast and saying farewell to the Mercury division.
The long-struggling brand has been slowing phasing itself out following the decision to take Mercury off life support, last year. But as of January 1, Ford formally closed the books on the brand. When dealers opened up this morning they had to have removed all signs, logos and sales pitches for the once formidable Mercury.
Borrowing the name from Roman mythology – Mercury being the messenger of the gods – the brand was founded in 1939 by Edsel Ford, son of company founder Henry Ford. The division was designed to fill a spot between mainstream Ford, often called the “Blue Oval” brand, and upscale Lincoln.
In its very first year, Mercury sold 65,800 vehicles, in line with what it has been moving in recent years. But even in those early days, Mercury struggled to establish a clear identity. At times, it was pitched as a performance brand. Alternatively, it was marketed as a more luxurious marque. But most of the time, Mercury simply marketed the same products as the Ford division, albeit with a different badge.