Named after the Roman messenger god, Mercury, who was known for his speediness, Mercury the automobile brand, was first launched by the Ford Motor Company all the way back in 1938 by Henry Ford's son Edsel. The purpose of this new Ford division was to produce vehicles that were somewhere between Ford's normal market vehicles and it's luxury brand Lincoln's vehicles, similar to GM's Buick and Oldsmobile brands and the Chrysler Group's traditional Chrysler brand. From the years 1945-2011, Mercury was half of Ford's Lincoln-Mercy division. Unfortunately, to the dismay of Mercury fans everywhere, the brand was eliminated in 2011, and Ford turned towards putting more emphasis on the Lincoln and Ford brands. The last Mercury produced was the Grand Marquis in January 2011.
The first Mercury vehicle designed by Ford was the Mercury Eight, also called the "Super Ford." This vehicle had a 95 horsepower engine and an extremely innovative aerodynamic design. It also holds the honor of being the first car every designed using a clay model. The Eight was launched in 1930 and was produced until 1938. During this time, it sold seventeen-thousand units- a huge increase in production due to a bigger increase in demand. By the time numbers reached the 155k mark, Ford was struggling. This, however, was remedied with the cessation in production during WWII.
After the war, in 1946 to be precise, production began again with a modified 1942 Mercury Eight. By the time 1950 rolled around, there were one million Mercury vehicles on the road. Mercury decided to invest in development a new innovative technology, the original automatic transmission, named the Merc-O-Matic, which was featured on all Mercury models beginning in 1951. Mercury continued to grow in popularity during the 50s, and one even got a starring role in a popular film of the time. In the last 50s, Mercury joined the racing circuit as well. The 1960s Mercury Comet, Meteor, and Cougar also found popularity on the mass market, as well as the racetrack.
Mercury was quite affected by the oil crisis of the 1970s, but it combatted financial woes by introducing smaller cars (that were European-made) named the Bobcat and Capri. Previous Mercury models were still selling like hot cakes as well, especially a new Cougar variant- the XR-7. Sales continued to go up throughout the 1980s, especially with the mass-marketed Mercury Lynx and Mercury Grand Marquis. However, the model that stands out most is probably the 1986 Mercury Sable which was known for being very fuel efficient.
Mercury's success continued into the 1990s, at which point it added a minivan, the Mercury Villager to its lineup, as well as the SUV Montaineer in 1997. The 2000s brought bad luck for Mercury, however. Although the company was still focused on performance and fuel efficiency with new models like the Mercury Milan and the Mercury Mariner, its drivers simply weren't as captivated as they had once been. Ford denied any rumors about the death of the brand, and the Mercury Marauder did up sales for a while. Eventually though, Mercury was killed, and it's a death we will all lament.