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From 1985 until 1989, the Lincoln-Mercury subsidiary of Ford Motor Company offered the Merkur (German pronunciation: [mku], Mercury) line of cars. Merkur, which got its name from the German term for Mercury, sold captive imports made by the German subsidiary of Ford of Europe to North American consumers of European executive vehicles.

Merkur was one of the least successful car brands in the contemporary American auto industry when Lincoln-Mercury discontinued it after the 1989 model year. It only lasted one more model year than Ford's previous, more notable failure, the Edsel.


In the United States and Canada, consumer tastes in the luxury car market started to change in the late 1970s and early 1980s from the once conventional Cadillac, Lincoln, and Chrysler models to more automobiles made in and influenced by Europe. In response, the Japanese car industry introduced luxury-focused brands created for North America. Nissan and Toyota introduced Infiniti and Lexus to the market, respectively, in 1989, while Honda's Acura brand went on sale in 1985.

Ford's answer was to create the Merkur brand in November 1983, with a debut planned for the 1985 model year. To comply with American safety and pollution requirements, Merkur modified Ford of Europe cars rather than creating whole new product lines. The Mercury Capri, which replaced the Volkswagen Beetle as the second-most imported vehicle in the United States during the 1970s, had been brought in from West Germany.

Around 800 Lincoln-Mercury dealers agreed to carry the Merkur brand when it was first introduced. PR and advertising materials emphasized the importance of pronouncing the brand name in German correctly (German for Mercury). Ford Werke AG-Cologne, West Germany, was written in script on Merkur automobile badges to indicate where the car was made (Cologne Body & Assembly).

Merkur Club of America

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