Doug and Roberta have never driven their 2003 Mercury Marauder on public roads. They flat-bedded it from the dealership in July of 2002, and stored it in a heated garage for 15 years. Now the car is for sale, meaning someone out there can buy what looks like a brand spankin’ new, V8, body-on-frame, rear wheel-drive old-school American sedan.
The couple first laid eyes on Mercury’s muscle sedan at the 2002 Detroit Auto Show, and immediately fell in love. They contacted their local dealer, and asked to be put on “the list”; after about six months, that dealer called Doug and Roberta back, telling them Mercury Marauders were finally rolling off the assembly line, and that their car would be ready for pickup within a week.
After remembering which vehicle the dealer was talking about (they had forgotten), the two asked Crest Lincoln-Mercury of Sterling Heights, Michigan not to remove any of the protective plastics, or to “prep” the car at all. Doug and Roberta wanted the vehicle just as it came from the factory. To them, it was an investment.
So on July 3, 2002, Doug picked up the car from the dealership, drove it onto a flatbed, and took it home to Imlay City, Michigan to store in a garage.
The detached garage is heated, and the floor under the car is covered with a tarp. The Mercury has sat in the very same spot—even facing the same direction—since that summer day back in 2002. The only reason why the car currently has 62 miles on its odometer is because it originally came from the dealer with three miles on the clock, and the remaining 59, Doug claims, are from him simply driving the car on blocks.
Doug says the reason why he drove the car with its rear wheels spinning in the air is that he wanted to ensure that the transmission and rear differential received proper lubrication (most likely to prevent corrosion and to avoid cracked seals). He says, with the car up on jacks, he used to periodically move the shifter through all of its “gears,” and also let the engine lubricate itself as he “drove” without actually moving.
(Because some of you readers are nerds, I’ve done some back-of-envelope calculations on what it’d take for Doug to put 59 miles on a car in 15 years without actually driving on roads. If we assume the warmup sessions were five minutes long, and that car’s average speed during those was about 10 mph (basically, the engine was idling), it means for Doug to have put 59 miles on his car by driving it on jack stands, he’d have to have “warmed” the car once every two and a half months. Roberta says Doug warmed his car up once a month, so this seems to check out.)
After having seen this car for sale on Craigslist (thanks to a tip from a reader), I drove up to Imlay City to see if the 62 Mile Marauder was actually real. After all, the seller had told me over the phone that she couldn’t take a picture of the odometer because of the “glare,” so I was a bit skeptical.
But my skepticism immediately disappeared when I arrived at their quaint suburban home, because this thing is simply magnificent.
None of my photos will do it justice, but the Marauder is literally in mint condition. Everything from the paint, to the original tires, to the original brake pads, to the seats, to the underbody: it all looks factory fresh. And if you don’t believe me, have a gander at the interior; its seats, shifter, and hood release are still covered in the factory plastic wrap:
Even the center dashboard trim, passenger’s side carpeting, and shifter position indicator panel have plastic on them:
The center console protective cover is also still in place, as is the dealer’s business card:
There’s also a protective sticker on the radio display:
And there’s a “to be removed by dealer” sticker for the HVAC display:
Other indicators that this car is factory original—aside from the fact that it’s in perfect condition—are the paint marks, which were likely put there by inspectors at the factory, or by the suppliers who built the parts. For example, here’s a “B” on the driver’s side wheel liner (I have no clue what it means):
The front cradle has a green paint mark, and there’s a blue mark on what looks like the steering rack housing cap:
I also spotted what appears to be a signature on the rear differential, perhaps a marking confirming that it has been filled with gear oil:
You can also see a few blue paint marks on the passenger’s side tie rod end, and on the wheel hub:
The engine also shows a “D1" marking on the driver’s side cylinder head:
But enough about the markings, just look at how immaculate this engine looks:
More importantly, listen to how that dual overhead cam, 32-valve, 302-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 Mustang Cobra engine sounds:
Doug and Roberta have been storing the car with rags under the wiper arms and a cloth over the dash. You can see that here, along with an “OK” sticker, which Doug says the car came from the dealer with:
As far as paperwork, Doug and Roberta have it all. Here’s the window sticker sandwiched between two panes of plexiglass.
And here’s the delivery checklist that Doug had to sign when picking up the car from the dealer in 2002:
Speaking of that day they picked up the car from the dealer, the couple has an entire wall full of photos documenting when they first took ownership of this majestic machine:
On top of the documentation, Doug and Roberta still have the factory key fobs still in plastic:
And Doug also has the excellent leather Mercury Marauder jacket that came with the car:
Doug, who just had a heart attack at age 70, says he’s selling the car for medical reasons. And while he says he’s hoping for “somebody to buy it and put it away,” he admits that he really can’t control what a buyer does with this time capsule once it’s gone.
Doug and and Roberta are asking $40,000 for the Marauder (here’s the link to the sale posting), saying this car could be seen as an investment to a potential buyer, because not only did Ford only made about 12,000 in total, but the Marauder really is the best version of the last true American old-school full-size sedan.
While we’ve written an article called “Why The Mercury Marauder Is A Future Classic” echoing essentially that same sentiment, the question here is, is it far enough into the future for this car to command that price tag? I guess we’ll find out soon enough; either way, it’s hard not to appreciate such a well preserved machine.
Update: The original headline has been changed, as Roberta just told me over the phone that the car was indeed registered upon purchase. (Though she reiterates that there’s never been a plate on the car, nor has the vehicle ever driven on public roads).