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Mercury was an American automobile brand, a subsidiary of Ford, founded in 1938 by Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford for the manufacture of semi-pulse cars aimed at a mid-range market located between the group’s low range, represented by the Ford brand and the high range, represented by the Lincoln brand.

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Virtually all Mercury models were always based on Ford brand platforms. The name Mercury was chosen in honour of Mercury, the Roman god.

Mercury began as a direct division of Ford until in 1945 it was merged with Lincoln into the Lincoln-Mercury division in the hope that the firm would be seen by customers as a second Lincoln brand, not a second Ford brand. In 1958 Edsel joined Lincoln-Mercury, giving way to the Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln division. With the demise of Edsel in 1960, the division was renamed Lincoln-Mercury again.

Mercury, like the now defunct Edsel, was created from the beginning as a second brand. Mercury had its big boom during the 1950s due to successful platform designs from Ford. The brand changed its image several times throughout its history. During the 1940s and 1950s it went from being a Ford subordinate to a Lincoln subordinate, even offering its own bodies. Between the 1960s and early 1970s Mercury began to distance itself from Ford and offered several different models such as the Cougar and Marquis. But between the late 1970s and early 1980s the brand was again attached to Ford’s hip and its image suffered the consequences.

The Mercury brand was also marketed in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Virgin Islands and the Middle East. In 1999, Mercury cars were marketed as Ford in Mexico and Canada. From 2004, the Mercury range began to be quite small and very similar to the models sold under the Ford brand. Many industry observers wondered whether Mercury would survive in the long run, but Ford insisted that there was no intention of letting the brand die. The introduction of new models seemed to support those arguments, and its alliance with Lincoln helped the brand stay alive; all Lincoln dealers also sold the Mercury brand, as they were also interested in having lower-priced vehicles in their showrooms.

Finally, on June 2, 2010, Ford officially announced the closing of the Mercury line by the end of the year, and consequently of the brand. The last Mercury car, a Grand Marquis, left the assembly line on January 4, 2011. In terms of sales, Mercury represented only 1% of the U.S. auto market, while Ford represented 16%. The Ford Motor Company stated that additional Lincoln models would be introduced to replace any deficit of the discontinued Mercury brand. At the time of the announcement of the closure of Mercury, the brand sold less than 90,000 units per year, less than Plymouth and Oldsmobile before its closure.

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