While we generally love stick shifts in everything from Miatas to riding mowers, there’s just something wonderfully incongruous about there being one in today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Mercury. Let’s see however, if its price will keep you from becoming the Marquis de sad.
Pontiac’s advertising once touted that We Build Excitement, Pon-tee-ack! Well, GM’s former mid-tier brand doesn’t build anything anymore, having been driven waaaaay out in the country back in 2010. Twenty years before its demise however, they built yesterday’s 1990 Grand Prix with a little help from ASC/McLaren. That car appeared to be a museum-quality example of the marque, but too few of you felt much excitement building over its asking price, and it fell in an 82% loss. Pipe-of-Crack!
Perhaps if yesterday’s Pontiac had been a stick shift, and had been several thousands cheaper and perhaps more Panther-based, its outcome would have been more positive. Remarkably, that’s exactly the case with today’s car, so - as a scientific experiment - let’s see how it fares.
There are certain inexplicably incongruous sights in life - Adam Sander accepting an award at the Oscars; cats not being A-holes; and non-creepy clowns prominent among them. You can add to that list this 1990 Mercury Grand Marquis granny-mobile, which magically has a cueball-topped stick shifter sprouting from its tranny tunnel.
As we all know, Ford’s Panther platform cars were always intended to be auto-only, while a few intrepid individuals have sought to rectify Ford’s obvious oversight. This Merc is further evidence of those rebels.
Of course if you’re going to three-pedal a Panther, this Marquis is absolutely the way to go. Its landau vinyl roof, brightwork up the wazoo, and the squared-off upright, goes-to-church-and-waves-the-flag styling are all so antithetical of anything and everything that a manual transmission stands for that it’s just a hilarious combination. It’s sort of like if instead of chocolate and peanut butter Reese’s Cups were comprised of front parlor ribbon candy and meth.
This 4-door Marquis comes with a five-point-oh to make the discordant T5 underfloor useful, and the ad notes that it only has 80K on the clock. Power is sent back to a 8.8-inch LSD rearend through a driveshaft that’s notable for being made from beer cans. The exhaust is comprised of stainless steel headers, an H-pip,e and dual cats before a pair of Flowmasters dump the noize out the back. All good stuff that.
The bodywork looks fine in the pics, having been resprayed a couple of years back. The top isn’t peeling which is a plus, as I’d hate to have to drive to Cleveland to get one of these things recovered. That’s where they do that, right?
The 20-inch wheels in a couple of the pictures have already been sold, and the car now rolls on the factory alloys, which aren’t bad looking but do seem a little small by modern standards.
Inside it’s all grey mouse fur and excessive padding, just like it should be. The dash is festooned with a butt-load of extra gauges including a steering column-mounted tach. Remarkably the original Ford cassette deck stereo remains, a further vestige of this car’s old school-ness. Hopefully you don’t change radio stations every time you shift into first and third.
In fact, the quality of the transmission conversion isn’t explicitly evident here at all. Hopefully things like the ignition interlock have been hooked up so as to get the car through certain state inspections that look at such things.
All that comes with a $2,500 price tag, which very obviously is less than the sum of its parts - and labor - that went into making this Marquis a manual. What’s your take on this odd-bodkin of a Merc, is it a steal? Or at that price, is this Marquis’ seller trying to really stick it to someone?
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