I always found Mercury products to be vastly superior than their Ford counterparts. Mercury was synonym with exclusivity, quirkiness and sophistication while Ford was, and is still, more a synonym of loud and obnoxious.
Welcome to Forgotten Classics.
Once again last week's edition was a massive success, thanks to the Jalopnik editors !
As demonstrated in the previous articles, the goal of this series of essays will be to bring cars that are getting no love back in the limelight. FC is also a thorough analysis of why such cars remained obscure and never got the praise they deserved.
This week, we're looking at one of the most surprising Ford product of the last 3 decades, and I'm not talking about the the 2017 Ford GT, but rather the alluring 1982 Mercury LN7 and its less fancy sibling, the Ford EXP.
Location : Chicago, the year: 1981, the event : The Chicago Auto Show. Ford drops a bomb.
It is the first two seater coming from the blue Oval in 25 years, and it's red and it has phone dial wheels, an idea that was eventually stolen by Porsche.
One big problem, however, was the 70 hp engine. It clearly wasn't enough, and despite an impressive 44 MPG on this highway, some Lincoln/Mercury customers eventually saw it as brand dilution and swiftly rejected the proposition. Later that year, Ford/Mercury offered a revised 80 hp of the engine, but that was too little too late and the Mercury LN7 couldn't be saved. The LN7 was dropped in 1983 after only 40,000 units were sold, making it a future classic.
For 1984, Ford decided to step up its game and gave the remaining twin a much needed turbo engine. The EXP Turbo coupe was born.
Featuring a 120hp 1.6 Turbo engine, the EXP Turbo coupe was no slouch, delivering boost up to 8 PSI. It came standard with turbo badges, a 5 speed manual, vents, nicer alloy wheels sport bits here and there. Mercury probably realized it has been trigger happy by killing the LN7, because this could have been the LN7 XR7. Unfortunately, it is still impossible to go back in the past.
The 2 second generation EXP was presented as a 1985.5 model. I an idea that was again stolen Porsche with the 1985.5 Porsche 944, which was a similarly styled and similarly powered vehicle sold at 3 times the price.
The sad news was that the Turbo model has been dropped, but the base motor got beefed up to 1.9L and 90 hp.
At this moment, it became clear that Ford was throwing the towel. The EXP lost most of its sportiness and became an unpractical version of the the Tempo coupe, or a long escort. For the Price, the Escort GT was as lot more appealing.
For 1989, Ford presented a new larger sports coupe, the probe. With 3 sport cars in its lineup, Ford had to cut one, and it was decided that the EXP would be sacrificed. the EXP's journey ended on a rainy day of October 1988, after 225,000 units were built, way below Ford's management expectations. It never really threatened the MR2, the Fiero or the Porsche 944.
As for their Legacy, the LN7/EXP have a bunch of hardcore followers, they have become cult cars for many, many people are racing these cars and the EXP and LN7 owners club is pretty active. It's definitely worth a visit if you are into those cars.
So this it for this week, dear friends, hope you enjoyed, and see you next week.