In the beginning of the automotive age, there were literally hundreds of car companies. Studebaker, Fischer, Hertz, Packard and Rambler, to name a few. By the time I became aware of cars (when I was 3 according to my dad) they had coalesced into 4 major American car companies ; American Motors (Rambler and Jeep), General Motors (Chevy, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Cadillac), Chrysler (Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler) and Ford (Ford, Lincoln, Mercury).
Things were pretty stable back then. AMC had the ugliest cars on the planet and Jeeps were trucks. Chevy was basic, Buick more upscale, Pontiac more sporty, Oldsmobile upscale and sporty and Cadillac was all luxury cars. Dodge was the basic line, Plymouth the more upscale and Chrysler the luxury line; Ford, Mercury and Lincoln followed the same pattern. You could tell cars built by AMC, GMC, Chrysler and Ford apart from each other a mile away, and you knew what to expect from it by the name on it’s trunk lid.
1987 saw the demise of AMC, absorbed by Chrysler who scrapped everything except the Jeep badge. But then things were stable again, the “Big Three” remained untouched. Until 2001, when Chrysler decided to discontinue their Plymouth line. Shortly after, General Motors shut down their Oldsmobile line, and just recently their Pontiac line.
Well, I read in the paper today that Ford has decided to discontinue the Mercury line. Bummer. Of course it’s great that the company is doing things to remain financially strong, but I have to admit, just like the news that they were discontinuing the LTD (Crown Victoria) line, it makes me a little sad to hear Mercury is done.