2003 Mercury Marauder - the exterior

A car that is supposed to radiate a musclecar attitude needs an exterior that delivers on that promise. The main ingredient is the paint - monochromatic, very little brightwork/chrome, including a blacked-out grille. Initially available only in black, a metallic blue was offered late in 2003 along with the black, followed by a metallic silver, and for 2004 a dark red has been specified as well (replacing the blue color).

Along with the blacked-out grille, the headlight and turn-signal covers are also darkened somewhat, giving them a smoked appearance. The bumper is also Marauder-specific, incorporating Cibie driving lights at the lower corners.

The wheels are also a very noticeable Marauder-specific item. 18-inches in diameter (!) and very highly polished, the front wheels wear 235mm-wide tires whereas the rear units are shod with 245mm-wide tires. The most interesting thing about these tires are the unusually high aspect ratios.

Because the wheels are fairly wide in diameter to begin with, and the tires are pretty wide in terms of tread width, one would have expected this to be offset by a very low aspect ratio, yielding a very short sidewall. Quite the contrary... the tires are offered in a very high aspect ratio, resulting in what seems like a HUGE sidewall. While this might seem detrimental to the sporty nature of this automobile, in reality the tall sidewalls work well with the stiffened suspension and aggressive alignment specs to provide a ride that is firm and controlled but not excessively harsh - very important in a large vehicle such as this.

Out back, another Marauder-specific item: the back bumper. This is the only place on the entire car where the model name is visible to the exterior. Two cutouts on the bottom corners of the bumper allow placement of the outlets from the dual exhaust.

Speaking of exhaust outlets, yet more Marauder-specific items are found here. These highly polished outlets finish off the true dual exhaust system found on this car (complete with an H-style crossover about midways down the length). A very aggressive exhaust note for this car, the tips do a fine job of keeping unwanted resonances from disturbing the passengers at highway speeds.

While studying the rear end of the car, it may be observed that this is a very notable departure from the car's Grand Marquis heritage. At first glance, it may seem that Mercury elected to use Ford Crown Victoria taillamps instead of the Grand Marquis full-width units (which are interrupted only by the reverse lights and the license plate area). In reality, this is not the case - in order to continue the all-blacked-out look, the lower trunk trim and taillights were taken from the similar Police Interceptor models. At first one might think the Police Interceptor models to be identical to civilian Crown Victorias, but the chrome trim on the taillamps and lower trunk trim of the Crown Vics set them apart (among other things). To further enhance the Marauder tail end's uniqueness, these Police Interceptor taillamps were darkened to give them a smoked appearance, much like what was done on the front end.

Since we're already studying the tail end of the car, we can take a look inside the large trunk, another selling point for these large rear-wheel-drive cars. Ample room is present for the spare tire, the subwoofer and amplifier combo box, and the optional trunk organizer storage box.

While the trunk organizer may seem like a useless option at first, the ability to safely secure items of various widths and depths in the trunk without worrying about them flying around or breaking is quite worth the extra money. Should more trunk space be required for large bulky items, the organizer is easily removed.

The trunk also houses the on/off switch for the load-levelling suspension system, as well as the reset button for the fuel-cutoff switch (in case of an impact). Well out of the way of trunk cargo, the 6 CD changer unit is very accessible.