Junkyard Gem: 1992 Mercury Grand Marquis LS

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We've all been seeing the instantly familiar Ford Crown Victoria P71 Police Interceptor on North American roads for what seems like forever, though in fact the very first of the aerodynamic Crown Vics didn't appear until a mere 31 years ago. Yes, after more than a decade of boxy LTD Crown Victorias, Dearborn took the late-1970s-vintage Panther platform and added a brand-new, Taurus-influenced smooth body and modern overhead-cam V8 engine, giving us the 1992 Ford Crown Victoria. The rule was, since 1939, that (nearly) every Ford model needed a corresponding Mercury, and so the Mercury Division applied different grille and taillights and the rejuvenated Grand Marquis was born. Here's one of the first of those cars to be built, now residing in a Denver-area self-service boneyard.

The Marquis name goes respectably far back, to the late 1960s and a Mercurized version of the Ford LTD hardtop. The Grand Marquis began life as the name for an interior trim package on the 1974 Marquis Brougham (also LTD-based), eventually becoming a model in its own right for the 1979 model year. Today's Junkyard Gem came off the Ontario assembly line in March 1991, making one of the very first examples built.

For 1992 (and through 2011), the Grand Marquis was a Crown Victoria with slightly enhanced bragging rights. This one has the top-grade LS trim, with an MSRP of $20,644 (that's about $44,370 in inflation-adjusted 2022 dollars). The corresponding Ford-badged model (built on the same assembly line by the same workers) would have been the Crown Victoria LX, which actually cost a bit more: $20,987 ($44,910 now). The very cheapest civilian 1992 Crown Vic cost just $19,563 ($42,045 today).

There weren't any powertrain differences between the Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis in 1992. The only engine available was this Modular 4.6 SOHC V8, rated at either 190 (single exhaust) or 210 (dual exhaust) horsepower. The transmission was a four-speed automatic with overdrive.

How many miles are on this one? Can't say! Based on the worn-out interior, I'm going to guess 221,719 miles passed beneath this car's wheels during its 32-plus years on the road. I've seen some very high-mile Police Interceptors, of course, including one with 412,013 miles, but Ford didn't go to six-digit odometers in the Grand Marquis until a bit deeper into the 1990s.

Thanks to flawed speech-to-text applications on smartphones, the Grand Marquis is known as the "Grandma Keith" to many of us today.

The very last Grandma Keith was built in February of 2011. I had the privilege of renting a late-2010 example when I went to Connecticut to work the 2010 New England 24 Hours of Lemons at Stafford Motor Speedway.

That car was one of the best rentals I've ever driven in my life (along with a Peugeot 208 in Luxembourg), and I enjoyed taking it onto the race track with my fellow Lemons Supreme Court justice, Jonny Lieberman. This being July in New England, the temperatures reached triple-digit levels with corresponding 98% humidity, so we left the Grand Marquis Ultimate Edition idling next to the penalty box with the air conditioning going full blast, giving us a chilly place to escape the heat for brief periods. These cars had incredibly powerful air conditioning; interior temperature must have been in the low 40s, and I recall frost forming on the dash vents, but that memory may not be 100% accurate.

The Grandma lasted exactly as long as Mercury did, and we mourn its passing.

When the winds of change are upon us, Mercury keeps the old "big Merc" traditions while adding modern aerodynamics and running gear.

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