On Sept. 7, Mercury dealer Martin Gubbels handed over the keys to the very last new Mercury he ever will sell --- a black 2010 Milan.
The owner of Big Sky Ford in Torrington, Wyo., now can collect his cash compensation from Ford Motor Co., which announced in June that it would terminate the 71-year-old Mercury brand by Dec. 31.
"My offer from Ford was very fair," Gubbels said. "At the same time, I'm losing. By having Mercury, I'm sure I've made more than what they're offering me.
"In retrospect, I'd still rather have the brand."
Gubbels, who also sells Fords and Lincolns at his small, rural dealership near the Nebraska border, faces the cost of removing the Mercury logo from everything at the store and losing about one-third of his annual new-car sales.
Ford will end Mercury production next week. The Grand Marquis will be halted on Thursday, Sept. 30; the Mountaineer on Friday, Oct. 1; the Milan the next day; and the Mariner on Oct. 3.
At the end of August, Ford had 7,500 Mercury vehicles on the ground in the United States or a 40-day supply, Ford says.
Of the 1,712 Mercury dealerships, about 700 have signed Ford's compensation agreement, the automaker says. Ford has declined to discuss how many Mercury dealers have closed.
"Our Mercury dealers are at various points in the resignation process," says Ford spokesman Steve Kinkade. "We're continuing to work collaboratively with all of them to ensure a smooth transition out of their Mercury franchise."
Dealer lawyers have seen compensation offers ranging from $100,000 to nearly $800,000. Ford has declined to comment on the amounts.