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Well, I just read the new article on the fron page which had to do, primarily, with the imminent departure of Wolfgang "Amadeus" Reitzle. I don't know the guy but he certainly came with big credentials and one cannot ignore the results of his influence at BMW. Although I "affectionately" refer to them as BMTroubleYou, I cannot hide the fact that they make awesome cars and their philosophy in the way of developing and building cars is inspiring, the least.<P>BUT (and this is a big...BUT[T]), I cannot but just laugh hard at Ford's idiotic insistence of trying to keep Mercury afloat. Gosh darn it! Mercury is like someone treading water and trying to keep his head above the water but you can only see his eyes, nose and mouth barely above the surface. The average person may wonder why but the individual who knows what is goign on will look beneath the surface and will not be surprised to look that this person legs are tied together and he has quite a few LEAD WEIGHTS hanging...Oh, yeah, I see they are labeled..."COUGAR", "VILLAGER", "MYSTIQUE, a.k.a. MISTAKE", "GRAND "fat butt" MARQUIS", "MOUNTAINEER" and the newest gleaming weight labeled "MARAUDER"...WOW...what a collection! I give this person this much of a chance in finally not drowning...<B>0%</B> a big, FAT ZERO! What a collection of...dead weights...Ugly, dated and <I>mediocre</I> cars that epitomize what was wrong with American cars or borrowed succesfull products from other manufacturers (Nissan Quest) or a nice product but doomed by the "fine" marketing name of...Mercury (COugar)...Ford's silly insistence of keeping the Mercury brand around is inexplicable and it only delays the inevitable. It's a old, achy and ill horse...let it die peacefully! Enough is enough.<P>Yannis<P>
 

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I don't know about that. I think Mercury has a couple things going for it that others didn't. Oldsmobile and Plymouth were downright boreing names for brands that weren't really any different than their sisters. Okay, Merc isn't all that different than Ford, but it is named after the Greek god of speed, though the logo could use some work.<P>The other problem is, like Lincoln, Merc is very popular with the blue hairs, and the Grand Marquis, while not much more than a Crown Vic with a different grill, seems to have the panache the average 60+ year old is looking for. Also, and here's the important part, it's a cash cow. They don't have to develop it any further, and it'll sell a ton. That's a conundrum, because how do you spruce up the line and keep the Grand Marquis in it at the same time. The Marauder is about the best answer for that, becuase it picks up where the Impala SS left off and it gives the Grand Marquis a semi (try squinting really hard) sporting flair.<P>The Mountaineer is also a sales success, so I doubt it'll go away.<P>So, figure you just have to gulp, swallow and fiugre those cars aren't going anywhere. Now where do you go from there...<P>I'm one of those people who thinks there's room for Merc, and here's why...<P>Bill it as a more worldly American brand with an upscale feel, but not heavy luxury such as Lincoln. In other words, no Mustangs or pickups, etc. etc. If you can overlook the Mountaineer and the Grand Marquis, then go on to this...<P>Mercury Focus - Call me on drugs, but I thought Dodge and Plymouth were onto something by both marketing the Neon, but they didn't go far enough. Sell the Focus, but with more upscale equipment levels, another layer of sound deadening, larger wheels, stiffer suspension.... AND spec out the wagon and the sedan with top of the line models, not just the hatchback like the Ford. Give the Merc version the euro fenders with the sidemarkers, and basically use Ford Focus Europe packages like the ST170 (picutured below).<BR> <IMG SRC="http://www.swedespeed.com/news/04_02/04_18_02/focus_1.jpg"> <P>Mercury Mondeo Sedan & Station Wagon - Same thing here. Bring the well designed and successful Ford Europe product to the US and sell it as a Merc. Bring the ST version like the one seen below.<P> <IMG SRC="http://www.swedespeed.com/news/04_02/04_18_02/mondeo_1.jpg"> <P>With AWD already available on the Mondeo platform, and soon to be available on the next gen Focus, I'd also implement some XC/Outback like setup for the Mondeo and Focus in the Merc brand.<P>All of the above would mean minimal developement cost for these models, except for maybe the AWD.<P>I'd also implement hybrid or diesel technology in Merc to give it more the technological feel, more like Saab, or Audi, but lower in the market, maybe more like VW.<P>Last, and here's where you may find me to be completely high, I'd develope a sports coupe on the Mondeo platform, and price it around the $19-$27 range depending on price and equipment, of which AWD would be involved. I would call it the Cougar also, and rather than embrace the old muscle car Cougar heritage, I'd make it a hybrid design somewhere in between Ford's new edge, but with a Jag feel. Play up the cat thing, like it's a baby Jag for those who can't afford a jag but want something stylish. It'd be an image car and I'd do an ST version of it also.<P>Last, I'd push for Merc to support some teams in the Speed Vision Cup or ALMS series. A Mercury LMP 675 prototype would be pretty cool.
 

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by [email protected]:<BR><B><BR>The other problem is, like Lincoln, Merc is very popular with the blue hairs, and the Grand Marquis, while not much more than a Crown Vic with a different grill, seems to have the panache the average 60+ year old is looking for. Also, and here's the important part, it's a cash cow. They don't have to develop it any further, and it'll sell a ton. That's a conundrum, because how do you spruce up the line and keep the Grand Marquis in it at the same time. The Marauder is about the best answer for that, becuase it picks up where the Impala SS left off and it gives the Grand Marquis a semi (try squinting really hard) sporting flair.<P>The Mountaineer is also a sales success, so I doubt it'll go away.<P></B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>George,<P>first of all, I do not disagree with <I>most</I> of your suggestions (some are a bit crazy) but Ford would never let Mercury have the Focus...Perhaps they will make the "mistake" and give Mercury the same car packaged a bit differently...The problem is that Ford will not give Mercury a product of its own. And when a company cannot market its own product but only dressed up versions then they are ,eventually, doomed. What Chrysler is doing with the Dodges and Chryslers can happen but only with a hugely popular car such as the Stratus and the Neon. For gets away with it in the Taurus/Sable department but that's it. The Explorer/Mountaineer is hugley Explorer-sided. I don't think that the Mountaineer is successful. They should be selling a lot more but they don't. And the new Mountaineer's styling is...well, I will be polite and not express myself.<P>The Grand Marquis...yes, it is a cash cow because it has paid its bills. But does that car do anything to promote the..."god of speed"? The Marauder will suffer the end of the Impala SS. American cars of the future must have the "cojones", depth and potential of cars like the Focus, new Mondeo, etc...These are versatile cars.<P>Well, it will be interesting...and how the heck am I, right? <IMG SRC="http://www.swedespeed.com/ubb/wink.gif"><P>Yannis<P><P>
 

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I agree with most of the suggestions George has made, but a part of me also wonders what would happened if Mercury was no more. All of the resources, money, and development from Mercury could then be channeled to the PAG, making them top-notch.<BR> <BR>For example, the Focus and Lincoln LS are two of the best American cars that I have ever driven, and the second generation versions of these cars should be nothing less than superb. Ford needs to spend more attention on quality control and material grade levels. I would really like to see Lincoln challenge Audi, BMW, and Mercedes on every level.<P>Ford has pretty much destroyed the competition with the SVT Focus, so I know that they have the potential in them. I guess my biggest hope for Ford is that they make Lincoln into a world beater. Personally, I wouldn't mind owning a Lincoln LS-6 Sport Manual. <IMG SRC="http://www.swedespeed.com/ubb/smile.gif"><P>-Drew
 

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On Merc...<P>My plan was based with a couple assumptions in mind.<P>1)<B>Lincoln Merc Dealers need the numbers that Merc provides</B>. Many of these are stand alone dealerships, and Lincoln's product range is good, but not so broad as to make all of these dealers not shiver at the thought of now being a one brand outlet.<P>2)<B>The Focus is a car that could be built out and sold to a greater level with additional equipment packages.</B> Thus, selling an ST170 Sedan, Hatchback, & Wagon in addition to some sort of Outback competitor package as well.... How about the name MT, like Mercury Focus MT (for a wagon with raises suspension and some tasteful cladding). MT would stand for Multi-Terrain but also play off of the MOUNTAINeer name. By selling the focus with a different grill, different fenders and different equip levels, you also give the Focus A LOT more distribution centers. You're also building the Focus name and not trying to sell a blatantly same car, much like the Mountaineer seems to be.<P>On the Mondeo, it may be a Ford product, but it isn't sold here, so selling it as a Merc here in the states, means Americans would identify it as a Merc. <P>On Lincoln - I like the LS also, and recognize it as a great car, but I think from a styling standpoint, it looks more like a Mitsubishi, albeit a tasteful one, and not enough like a Lincoln. Give it some more design cues from the Continenetal concept, like that grill/headlight treatment and it'd be a lot more dynamic.<P>Also, bring back the full size convertible. As it is right now, if I want something bigger than a Chrysler Sebring with a drop top, then I have to buy an S-class or a Bentley. There's a big ole open spot in the market that SCREAMS American luxury.
 

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Oh yeah, by using mostly already developed Ford products, except for that Cougar idea I threw out, then that leaves more developemental money for Volvo where there's more of a need for full differentiation and also more room for capitalization upon those differences.
 

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I hate to say this, guys, but in my humble opinion, Volvo <I>IS</I> the new Mercury.<P>I always thought Mercury was supposed to be the midrange between the entry level Ford and the upscale Lincoln. <P>Where is Volvo now? It's supposed to be 'luxury.' Is it really? If you asked Mr. & Mrs. Terry Average on the street, which would they consider to be the more luxurious car, Jaguar or Volvo? Lincoln or Volvo? Nope, guys, the Volvo brand is a notch below Jag when it comes to luxury image.<P>But Volvo <I>is</I> above the entry level marques. OK, where does that leave Volvo? Yup!!! Right smack in the middle <I>right along with Mercury!!!</I><P>And now that Mercury has no really competitive product line that would draw <I>anyone</I> into the showroom, it would appear that the mid-lux segment honors now go to, (guess what?) <I>Volvo</I>.<P>My only beef with Volvo is that they don't cater to this mid-segment market and insist they're more upscale like the Jag, which they clearly aren't. (I think Volvo could sell a lot more cars if they got the price down a bit; as it is, they're aimed at the higher-price market which is why they're not really as competitive as they could be.)<P>Oh well, my $.02, FWIW.
 

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Sorry I can't agree that Volvo is the new Mecury, if anything the luxury level is at least on par with the Lincolns, I agree they are a step down from most Jaguars (though really the s60 and the x40 are competing for the same buyers IMHO). Lincoln is just not a premium brand to most people, it is a mid level luxury manufacturer. I think the problem for mercury is that there really isn't a space for them between the ford brand and the Lincoln Brand, the Mountaineer is going to have competition from Lincoln this year (they have a new SUV based on the explorer coming to them) so what is the point of mercury? I say take their remaining car (the Grand Marquis/Marauder) and put a Lincoln name on it. Yes Bring the Mondeo over, but as a Lincoln and leave it at that. I don't think that selling to focus in lincoln dealerships would help much. (the st170 is already going to be sold in ford dealerships (at least sort of)). I think Volvo's strategy is working well at the moment, we will really need to see what the next generation s40/v50 are like, and what the feacelifted S80 is going to be like before we can gauge where they really stand I think. For now they are a the very least a good competitor for the upper volkwagon models and the lower to mid BMW, Mercedes, and Jaguar models.<BR>
 

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Volvo vs. Mercury or Volvo vs. Lincoln - I dunno about that. Volvo I would say is on par with where Lincoln is today. Lincoln is not on the level of Jag, BMW or Mercedes. Volvo is about somewhere in between VW and Audi. It's progressive like Audi, but not quite as sporting and the new 30/40/50 series keep it on the high end of the smaller market such as VW. AS for Merc in that case, Merc would be less European. It'd be more sporting and more progressive than Ford, but not as European/best safety in the world as Volvo.<P>With Merc, Ford can get away with a Focus wiht a Merc badge, or selling a Mondeo. With Lincoln, they can't do that. They want Lincoln to be a player in the real luxury market. That plays against old products like the Town Car, but the Aviator is a GREAT example of this. They are taking existing Ford platforms (in this case Explorer) and putting a ton more equipment and stylish design into it. For that they are charging a rather large premium (Aviator is over $40K).<P>They'd have to totally redevelope the Mondeo to sell it as a Lincoln. That's not a bad idea, but it's an expensive one. The Mondeo is a great car, and should be sold here in the US as is. That's where Merc comes in. The brand is there, the heritage is there, the dealers are there....why throw it away?<P>Selling the car under any other moniker such as Lincoln or Volvo will only devalue the car. Jag dumped a lot into the X-type and still caught flack over it. Anything less to the luxury minded Lincoln direction or the fiercely loyal Volvo owners would be a perceived insult.<P>With Merc, there's really nothing to lose and everything to gain. And, you can keep a car like the Taurus (larger and more American) around to sell against cars like the Toyota Avalon and Chevrolet Impala.
 

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That Mondeo looks like a nice car, but frankly I think Mercury is just lost. It should go the way of Plymouth and Oldsmobile. <P>That's the way business goes. It's cyclic. The Automotive industry is in a contraction stage. The weak don't survive as fewer companies get larger and larger. How much room is there for Mercury when Ford has good cars like the Focus SVT and Volvo has good cars like the next generation S40 and the S60?<P>Answer.... not much!
 

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by [email protected]:<BR><B>Volvo vs. Mercury or Volvo vs. Lincoln - I dunno about that. Volvo I would say is on par with where Lincoln is today. Lincoln is not on the level of Jag, BMW or Mercedes. Volvo is about somewhere in between VW and Audi. It's progressive like Audi, but not quite as sporting and the new 30/40/50 series keep it on the high end of the smaller market such as VW. AS for Merc in that case, Merc would be less European. It'd be more sporting and more progressive than Ford, but not as European/best safety in the world as Volvo.<P>[snip]<BR></B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Geroge, in this paragraph I think you just said what I said: in the Ford domestic family, the Ford is entry level, the Mercury is midrange, and the Lincoln is the top-end. Lincoln may not compete head-to-head with BMW and Mercedes, but in the domestic market Lincoln <I>is</I>high end.<P>If you admit that Volvo is between VW and Audi, that places it smack in the mid-range. <BR>If Volvo was truly a Lincoln-equivalent then why have the S/V 40 in the lineup? A true high-end product line wouldn't need an entry-level car.<P>Personally I see myself as a midrange buyer. I only paid $31.5k for my s60 T5. How? TDS, no sunroof, no leather, no Tethys. (I hate leather & sunroofs) Now that the sunroof is standard on the T5 with Volvo's push toward the high end, if my car was wrecked today I'd probably replace it with a VW, but I'd have to mod the engine to get the power level up to match the power/weight ratio of the T5. (The VW W8 comes standard with leather and sunroof, so that's out.)<P>I guess I'm saying I strongly think there is a solid market for midrange and Ford/PAG is ignoring it.<P>
 

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Well, there's also the whole cultural thing. For example, VW is marketing their A chassis as a VW (conservative higher quality), an Audi (edgier, highest quality), Skoda (conservative, entry level) and SEAT (mediterranean flair, sporty, entry level quality). You can feel it if you drive the equivalent cars. I have spent decent seat time in the SEAT Leon 4, Skoda Octavia Laurin & Klement TDI, Audi TT, and most VWs on the market. I can see the differences, and those are just among the European brands.<P>For Merc, I see a different niche than Volvo, but both in the middle range. If it's just a money/status issue than you have several issues in the Ford Group.<P>Lincoln, Jaguar and Aston all play or aspire to play on different ends of the luxury market or sports car market.<P>Ford, Mercury, Mazda and Volvo all aspire or play in the middle range to lower end luxury end of the market<P>Ford & Mazda play on the entry level side.<P>If Lincoln does what they intend, they'll be headed towards Jaguar's roost, but with a different American flair. If there's room for it there, then there also should be room for two to three brands in the mid range.<P>That leaves room for product under Lincoln in the middle range, and all of those dealers are already set up to sell Mercury products. Further, there are products like the Mondeo which aren't sold here because they are in conflict with a US product. Mondeo vs. Taurus, Focus ST170 vs. Focus SVT. By throwing them under the Merc badge, they can move them into different dealerships and either bolster sales, or create them in the case of the Mondeo.<P>There's also the Ford Escape/Maverick. Ford could sell Mavericks in the Mercury brand, or try more experimental stuff like my above mentioned MT (XC-like) package for the Focus and the Mondeo to compete head to head with the Subaru Outback. The only downside to that is that there'll probably be a V50XC, but that's not too much of a concern to me.
 

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If I were planning Lincoln - Mercury product, I'd play it like this.<P><B>Mercury</B><P>Focus (sedan, wagon, 3-door, 5-door) - Euro fenders with sidemarkers, projector style headlights, different color offerings than Ford<P>Focus MT - (wagon, 5-door) - slightly raised suspension, AWD, beefier cladding, Outback like), HID headlights optional, ESP optional<P>Focus ST170 - (wagon, sedan, 5-door) - SVT motor, HID headlights optional, ESP optional, 17" wheels standard, Recaro Seats, aluminum interior trim<P>Mondeo (sedan, wagon) - offer AWD as optional<P>Mondeo MT (wagon) - awd, raised suspension, beefier cladding, ESP optional, HIDs optional<P>Mondeo ST220 - (sedan, wagon) - sport suspension, HID optional, ESP optional, 17-inch wheels standard, 18" wheels optional, Recaro seats, aluminum interior trim<P>Cougar - Mondeo based coupe that mixes Jag-like design and New Edge, baby Jag if you will. HID optional, ESP optional<P>Cougar ST220 - ESP, HID, 17" wheels, Recaros, 18" wheels optional<P>Motorsport - Put Cougar in Speedvision Cup or Focus in SCCA Pro Rally<P><B>Lincoln</B><P>Small Lincoln (needs a name)- named after concept car. 3-series competitor, base on a new RWD platform that could be used for Mustang, next gen X-type, next gen T-bird, next gen RX8. Do sedan, coupe, wagon and convertible.<P>Sentinel- Replace LS8 on next gen mid sized RWD platform to compete with 5-series type players. Give design cues from Continental concept car. Build sedan, coupe (Sentinel Coupe), convertible (Sentinel Cabriolet), station wagon<P>Town Car - Build this for the US 60+ crowd. Keep it evolving, but on the same platform as the Grand Marquis. Not a world car. Not intended to be one.<P>Continental - Lincoln Q-ship, built on next gen Jag XJ platform. This would be Lincoln's world beater, to compete with S-class and the like, but from an American company. RWD. Sedan, Continental Coupe (maybe bring back the Mark name), Continental Cabriolet (4-door convertible), Limosine etc.<P>I think Lincoln has the potential to bring back American luxury in a worldly way, as Cosmopolitan as US cities have remained such as NYC and Chicago.<P>Oh well. I didn't mention SUVs for Lincoln, but I think they are on their game there, so why bother.<BR>
 

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by [email protected]:<BR><B>With Merc, there's really nothing to lose and everything to gain. </B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Sorry, George...there is <B>everything</B> to lose. Slapping the Mercury moniker on any model, now, will be the kiss of death for that car. Even it were to be the Focus...Mercury is DEAD in the mind of most people.<P>Yannis<P><P>
 

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by GrecianVolvo:<BR><B>Mercury is DEAD in the mind of most people.<BR></B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Merc who? What? Huh? <IMG SRC="http://www.swedespeed.com/ubb/wink.gif"> Nah, I think it doesn't hurt to try. Like George said, there are always people out there will buy these cars no matter what.<BR>Heck, if they can sell those fugly Sunfire like hot cakes, it's no crime to have few Mercs sold to some 60 year old man with pants up to his chest.<BR>As long as the Volvo's quality doesn't get influenced in a bad way by these other Ford-owned brands, I don't mind seeing more brand names out there. <IMG SRC="http://www.swedespeed.com/ubb/biggrin.gif"> Makes it more fun that way.<BR>
 

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Plus, there are a couple of things Merc could do to grab the attention of those who might look away. Entering in motorsports is one. <P>SCCA Pro Rally Focus could be one, even if Ford campaigned a team, Merc could also in the spirit of competition and in the spirit of saving money as dev has already been done.<P>Speed Channel Cup - Mondeo, Cougar or Focus could go here. No big deal, and it'd put the brand's name out there.<P>IRL or CART - don't bother. Not followed by the younger crowd that Merc would want to appeal to.<P>ALMS - maybe, they could develop something here. A Merc funded motor in an LMP675 LOLA or something might be interesting.<P>Or add features like PDA docking, NAV etc. If Mercury has the technology options down in that price range, that should help also.<P>Ford was nowhere small car wise before the Focus. Neither was Dodge prior to the first gen Neon, though the second gen Neon is rather lackluster. All I'm saying is, it is doable. But they need to pick a direction and stick with it. The Cougar wasn't a bad start at the time, but its design aged quickly, they didn't offer much in the way of high tech tuneable motors, and the rest of the Merc brand was made up of Mountaineers, Villagers and Grand Marquis. That's not very reassuring to younger enthusiasts.
 

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by The_one_n_only:<BR><B> <BR>Heck, if they can sell those fugly Sunfire like hot cakes, it's no crime to have few Mercs sold to some 60 year old man with pants up to his chest.<BR></B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>There is one "minor" difference, Kai, in selling the Sunfires as hotcakes...the name Pontiac is behind the...Call it a ...Mercury Sunfire and you will see where they will go. Change the Focus from "Ford Focus" to..."Mercury FOcus" and I guarantee you that sales will be hurt.<P>Yannis<P>
 

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by [email protected]:<BR><B>Plus, there are a couple of things Merc could do to grab the attention of those who might look away. Entering in motorsports is one. <P>SCCA Pro Rally Focus could be one, even if Ford campaigned a team, Merc could also in the spirit of competition and in the spirit of saving money as dev has already been done.<P>Speed Channel Cup - Mondeo, Cougar or Focus could go here. No big deal, and it'd put the brand's name out there.<P>IRL or CART - don't bother. Not followed by the younger crowd that Merc would want to appeal to.<P>ALMS - maybe, they could develop something here. A Merc funded motor in an LMP675 LOLA or something might be interesting.<P>Or add features like PDA docking, NAV etc. If Mercury has the technology options down in that price range, that should help also.<P>Ford was nowhere small car wise before the Focus. Neither was Dodge prior to the first gen Neon, though the second gen Neon is rather lackluster. All I'm saying is, it is doable. But they need to pick a direction and stick with it. The Cougar wasn't a bad start at the time, but its design aged quickly, they didn't offer much in the way of high tech tuneable motors, and the rest of the Merc brand was made up of Mountaineers, Villagers and Grand Marquis. That's not very reassuring to younger enthusiasts.</B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>George,<P>undoubtedly you have a vision and, perhaps, if you were in charge of the decision making at Ford you might have a pretty good chance in turning this morbid name into a live rocket. But your suggestions, I am afraid, are too radical for the morose minds that control a big company like Ford. So far, I have only seen two companies with BALLS that are not afraid to try something radical in order to better image/prestige/sales; thet are VW and BMW. Nissan is not that far behind...they are going to be the VW success story out of Asia.<P>Yannis<P><P>
 

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by GrecianVolvo:<BR><B> Change the Focus from "Ford Focus" to..."Mercury FOcus" and I guarantee you that sales will be hurt.<BR></B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P> <IMG SRC="http://www.swedespeed.com/ubb/biggrin.gif"> Maybe they should change their slogan to "Driving Excitement" also. That should help.. <IMG SRC="http://www.swedespeed.com/ubb/wink.gif"><P>Or..."Mercury,the Ultimate Granny Machine"..wait or was that Buick and the Olds?<BR>
 

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by The_one_n_only:<BR><B> Mercury,the Ultimate Granny Machine</B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Hehehe! Right on...MERCURY..doesn't it sound...ANCIENT? <IMG SRC="http://www.swedespeed.com/ubb/biggrin.gif"><P>Yannis<P><P>
 
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