2003 Mercury Marauder
8-cyl. 4.6L 281cid/302hp DOHC SFI
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Despite being undeniably cool-sounding, the Marauder label has been used sparingly by Mercury over the years. The first was a 1963 ½ to 1965 package on the Monterey, Montclair and Park Lane models. It then resurfaced for 1969-70 on the Marquis and replaced the S-55 package. It didn’t return until 2003, when it became its own model. The full-size four-door sedan was similar in concept to the Impala SS of almost 10 years before in that it was a full-size muscle sedan based on a more pedestrian luxury counterpart.
Built on Ford’s venerable Panther platform that lasted from 1978 all the way to 2011, the Mercury Marauder was based largely on the Crown Victoria and, like the earlier Impala SS, received high-performance equipment from police models, in this case the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. Steering was by variable assist rack-and-pinion, a 3.55 limited-slip differential was standard, and the driveshaft was aluminum. Under the hood was the 4.6-liter DOHC Modular V-8 built to the same specs as the Mach 1 Mustang, which meant 302 hp and 318 lb-ft of torque.
The Marauder could be visually distinguished from the normal Grand Marquis by its twin Cibie fog lamps, 1960s-style Mercury logo on the wheels, aluminum interior trim, 140 mph speedometer, and oil pressure and voltmeter gauges. Black, Dark Blue Pearl and Silver Birch were the only available colors. Ford had originally thought that they could build 18,000 Marauders a year, but demand was weaker than anticipated and only a little more than 11,000 examples were built.
Especially in the 1990s, Mercury was not associated with performance, and Car and Driver quipped that “hot-rodding a Grand Marquis is a little like making bourbon out of Geritol.” The magazine also concluded that the Marauder was “firm, flat, stable, composed” and that “roll control is terrific for a sedan so large”.
0-60 mph came in 7.5 seconds, the quarter mile came in 15.5 seconds, and the top speed was a limited 117 mph. The numbers weren’t bad, but the older rear-drive Impala SS to which the Mercury Marauder was inevitably compared did 0-60 about a second faster and was the better car in most measures. But even though the Marauder was not quite as wild as its menacing name suggested, it’s still a neat sleeper sedan that’s more than fast enough to have fun with and, finished in black, makes whoever is sitting behind the wheel look like an FBI agent.