The Marauder, a version of the Grand Marquis scheduled to go on sale in May, got its first public viewing here last week at the Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show. The sedan is designed to appeal to the same type of performance enthusiast as Chevrolet’s 1994-96 Impala SS, which was spawned from the Caprice.
Drooling fansChevrolet introduced the Impala SS at the 1992 SEMA show as a concept and rushed it into production after muscle car fans drooled. The Impala SS had a strong but short run as General Motors killed the Caprice to make room for more truck production. Resale values of the 1994-96 Impala SS remain high.
Mercury bought two copies of the Impala SS and tore them apart to find ways to improve the formula, said Kevin Lambert, powertrain engineering manager for the Marauder.
“The stuff the Impala team did was pretty good,” said Lambert. “The problem was what they started with was a rough piece.”
The Marauder will have a 300-hp 4.6-liter V-8 that uses many parts from the Mustang Cobra motor. But the engine is unique. It uses special four-valve cylinder heads, Lambert said. Like the Impala, the Marauder has wide, comfortable leather bucket seats and a floor-mounted shifter for the four-speed automatic transmission.
Special touches include wheel centers and seats with the old 1940s Mercury “godhead” logo, oil and volt gauges in the center console, fat chrome dual exhaust tips and fog lights built in the front fascia.
The Marauder will debut with a sticker price of $29,995 to $32,000. Mercury hopes to sell 15,000 units per year, about the same volume as the Impala SS.
Supercharged FreelanderOther vehicles unveiled at SEMA included:
The engine is a supercharged version of Rover’s KV-6, a 2.5-liter double-overhead cam unit that develops 250 hp. The Callaway Freelander will reach 60 mph in 7.7 seconds. Other upgrades include stiffer suspension and stronger four-wheel disc brakes.
“The objective of the exercise,” said designer Paul Deutschman, “is to give the Freelander much more roadability.” The performance modifications don’t lower the vehicle, so it can still go off road, he said.
Ford, Land Rover’s parent company, and Callaway are studying the possibility of producing 500 per year at Callaway’s Connecticut site.
“We wanted to give those buyers who already own a 300M some place to step up to,” said Mike Perugi, 300M brand manager. Only 8,000 will be made per year.