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Muscle, with a side of luxury – the 1969 Mercury Marauder X-100

Published in blog.hemmings.com

1969 Mercury Marauder X-100 brochure courtesy of Lov2XLR8.no.

Life is all about compromise. For maximum velocity, weight is the enemy, which typically means that smaller is favorable to larger. Not everyone embraces the less-is-more aesthetic, however, and in 1969 Mercury served up personal luxury with a dose of Saturn V thrust in the Mercury Marauder X-100, a two-door hardtop powered exclusively by a 429-cu.in. Cobra Jet V-8.

Over 18-feet long, riding on a wheelbase that measured one-inch longer than 10-feet, the Marauder X-100 (basically, a Marauder with the N-code 429, fender skirts, styled aluminum wheels, a matte-finish rear cove and deck lid, leather and vinyl interior and sport steering wheel with a rim-blow horn) tipped the scales at nearly 4,200 pounds. Buyer seeking less flash could opt to forgo the matte trunk and cove treatment, and available seating options included a front bench, Twin Comfort seats or twin buckets. Configured properly, the Marauder X-100 could accommodate a driver and five passengers in reasonable comfort.

Styling was… complicated. From the front, the Marauder resembled a Mercury Marquis, which in turn resembled a Lincoln Continental. From the side, the buttresses behind the rear window almost gave the car a fastback profile, but the matte treatment across the rear deck added visual heft, and not in a good way. Then there was the faux, five-fin vent in the rear quarter panel, a perplexing addition that did not mesh well with the skirted fenders. In defense of the vent and the rising character line that began behind the doors, there was a lot of vertical real estate to keep visually interesting.

Those intent on corner-carving with a Marauder X-100 could specify the optional power brakes, with front discs and rear drums; a power-transfer axle; a high-performance axle; and a competition handling package that included heavy-duty shocks and a larger-diameter anti-roll bar. Not available, however, was a four-speed manual transmission; instead, the Marauder X-100 came exclusively with a three-speed Select-Shift automatic (though the base Marauder could be ordered with a three-speed manual, but only with the 390-cu.in. V-8).

While the N-code 429 was an option for base Marauders, it was the only choice for Marauder X-100 models. Topped by a four-barrel carburetor, the 90-degree, overhead-valve V-8 produced 360 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque, enough grunt that period road test cited a 0-60 mph time of under eight seconds.

The Marauder X-100’s downfall may well have been its price. In 1969, the model’s first year on the market, the X-100 started at $4,091 before options, and Mercury sold 5,635 examples (plus another 9,031 Marauders). In 1970, the X-100 saw a modest bump in price to $4,136, but sales fell to just 2,646 units (plus 3,397 Marauders). By comparison, Oldsmobile’s personal luxury coupe with performance leanings, the Toronado, stickered for $4,836 in 1969 and $5,023 in 1970, yet the GM division sold 28,494 in 1969 and 25,433 in 1970.

The Marauder was dropped from Mercury’s lineup in 1971, as the automaker revamped its product line, taking fullsize models further towards luxury and away from performance. The name would reappear (for a third time) in 2003, when Mercury offered a performance-themed variant of its Grand Marquis fullsize sedan for a two-year run. Looking to economize and simplify its product offerings, Ford shuttered the Mercury brand in January 2011.