Last Thursday, when we were reeling from the death of Prince, I wrote a story about the actual car that inspired Prince’s song Little Red Corvette. I was wrong about the car. So is pretty much everyone else on the internet. How do I know? Because musician Lisa Coleman—yes, that would be Lisa from Wendy & Lisa—owned the actual car, and she contacted me to set the record straight.
Well, specifically, it was Lisa’s wife and manager, Renata Kanclerz, who reached out to me about the car Lisa owned.
And she would certainly know. Wendy & Lisa were a prominent part of Prince’s band The Revolution, and figure heavily into the wonderful and delightfully nuts 1984 film Purple Rain.
Here’s what Renata told me:
We would love that you correct the error going forward and present the real story and the real car! We are car people, so it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard every time it’s misquoted as being an Edsel.
“Little Red Corvette” is actually a 1964 Mercury Montclair Marauder. Prince helped her buy it at auction in 1980 in Minneapolis. Lisa still owns the car. (Although, we need to restore it.) It’s still essentially original… Prince even gave it a few dents.
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So, let’s just make this abundantly clear:
The car that inspired Prince to write ‘Little Red Corvette’ was a 1964 Mercury Montclair Marauder. Not an Edsel, not an actual Corvette, but a bad-ass Mercury Marauder.
And Renata is exactly right. I did use the book Prince: Inside the Music and the Masks by Ronin Ro as the root source of the Edsel story, and it seems every reference to this story uses that same source as well, because all over the internet, everyone says the car Prince was napping in when he had the idea was an Edsel.
But, thankfully, that’s just not true. A Mercury Marauder is way, way cooler than an Edsel any day. The name is cooler. It looks cooler. It’s not synonymous with failure. It’s better in every possible way.
I’m still excited the Lisa of Wendy & Lisa and the Revolution even weighed in on this at all, but, since I now know that they’re gearheads, it makes total sense. I bet everyone calling her car an Edsel for years must have been driving her batshit, and I’m sorry I had a hand in that as well.
I hope this makes things right.
A Mercury Montclair Marauder. Not a fucking Edsel.