Welcome to the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage, a regular feature which aims to expand the notion of what a muscle car is, and maybe to change your thinking in the process. Up until now there hasn’t been a product produced by the Mercury Division of Ford covered in this series. While this car isn’t a Ford badged product, it was produced by the Ford Motor Company, with a Ford Performance pedigree. Let me introduce you to the Mercury Marauder X-100.
Lincoln Mercury’s management seemed to be beaming with excitement during the later 1/2 of the 60′s. They went on to state that the product line was their best ever. The changes in the full-size Mercurys, represented the most dramatic product changes in one year in the history of Ford Motor Co. These fine automobiles, along with the new 1969 Cougars, represent the fourth stage in the complete product revamping of the division, which began in 1967 with the Cougar, continued in 1968 with the Montego and the spring of 69 with the Continental Mark III. Indeed, The Mercury ad campaign for the 1969 Marauder X-100 read “In Case Luxury isn’t Enough.”
Ford had big expectations for the Mercury line that year. The Marauder, a distinct model in 1969, was made the flagship of the Mercury portfolio. The X-100 would consist of traditional full-size Mercury “luxury” but with the added power of a new power plant, the 360 horsepower 429. Priced in 1969 between $4000 and $5000, the intention was to contend with Buick Wildcat and Pontiac Grand Prix sales. The Marauder X-100 was typical of the muscle cars produced at the time. As the 1960s drew to a close, performance came in two basic forms: big engines in small packages and big engines in big packages. Large cars with big engines were performance specialty cars, and the X-100 fit right in.
The Marauder was a two-door hardtop based on a full sized Marquis chassis, chopped in wheelbase by three inches and shortened in the body by about five. The result was a roomy two-door hardtop with a long-hood/short-deck profile on a still-substantial 121-inch wheelbase. Curb weight started at two tons, and more with the right mix of options. The Marauder essentially was the same as Ford’s big Galaxie 500XL coupe with its flying buttress roofline and upright, tunneled backlight.
X-100 was the costlier of the two Marauders and came standard with rear fender skirts (optional on the base model), as well as a matte-black paint appearance called “Sport Tone” on the tunneled rear deck area. The last could be deleted for credit or by ordering the extra-cost vinyl roof. The dash was Marquis, and as such, gave a decidedly luxury car appearance, even if you ordered the optional buckets and console in place of the plushly padded front bench.
To move this considerable mass, the standard powerplant for the X-100 (and optional on the base model) was Ford’s new 429-cubic-inch V-8 in four-barrel form with 10.5:1 compression, a rated 360 horsepower at 4600 rpm, and 480 pounds/feet of torque at 2800. A three-speed Select-Shift automatic was the only transmission and an 2.80:1 rear axle ratio was standard. With the optional 3.25:1 Traction-Lok gears, the X-100 could turn the quarter in the mid-15s at 86-92 mph. Other Performance Figures: 0-60 mph in 7.5 sec, 0-100 mph in 19.9 Sec, Top Speed of 126 MPH.
Car and Driver Magazine wrote; “We realize that this level of performance is perfectly adequate, but adequate for whom?” Certainly not all out performance mavens, it concluded. Surprisingly, the X-100 was a pretty competent performer though. Understeer was the rule and the power steering was unnervingly light, roadholding ability was better than the base Marauder, thanks in part to the X-100’s standard Goodyear H70×15 bias-belted tires on Kelsey-Hayes “MagStar” aluminum wheels. Handling could be further improved by the stiffer springs and shocks offered with the optional competition suspension. Overall, said Car and Driver, “it’s extremely controllable in a wide range of situations, which is more than we can say for most of its competitors.”
With a base price of $4091, the X-100 listed for $700 more than the base Marauder. Options made it more expensive, but the pricing didn’t stop Mercury from building 14,666 Marauders in ’69, 5635 of which were X-100s. The car came back little changed for 1970, and production was down to 6043 Marauders, just 2646 of them X-100s.
That the car didn’t sell in huge numbers and wouldn’t run with the intermediate fire breathers of the day is not really the point. As a broad-shouldered heavyweight with the biggest engine in the stable, the Marauder X-100 was typical of one branch of the muscle car family. Ford pulled the plug on the Marauder in 1970. It wouldn’t be until 2003 that Ford’s Mercury division would re-introduce the Marauder name.
Well, there you have it. Is a Full Sized Mercury, one with a Big Block 429 hooked up to a C-6 automatic, an obscure Muscle Car, or is it just a Boulevard Cruiser pretending to be one? Remember, there was a market for full sized bruisers like this one. Does it belong in the Garage? leave your comments, and let your voice be heard.
Please Note: All Images are screen grabs from around the web. If you want credit for any image, please let me know in the comments section. Thank You!