Mercury Trucks

Mercury Trucks – Was Canada’s F-Series Trucks Better Than Ford’s?

Does anyone else here remember Mercury? Yeah… I thought so. Back in the day, if you wanted something more sumptuous than a Ford, but can’t afford an ultra-lux Lincoln, you’d get a Mercury, instead. With its place as the odd middle child sandwiched between Ford and Lincoln, it’s unfortunate that they’ve not survived to see this day. Who knows, maybe we might’ve seen more Mercury trucks around?

Wait… What now? Aha, you didn’t know they made trucks, did you? Though Mercury was one of the more upmarket brands in its heyday, once upon a time, they also dipped their toes into making their own pickup trucks, too. Most of you may fondly remember Mercury’s bolder and more exciting cars, like the Marauder, Comet, Cougar, or Turnpike. Well, it’s now time to learn of its most underrated.

For the most part, Mercury trucks were rebadged versions of Ford’s iconic and popular F-Series, just re-done slightly to increase Ford’s exposure in Canada. Although, peer deep enough beyond its very familiar outer shell, it’s certainly a more interesting truck than a period F-Series. In some ways, I can argue that it’s even better. Plus, they’re a bargain these days if you want a classic project truck.

Mercury Cars

Before we begin discussing more about Mercury trucks, let’s first talk about the brand in question. If you don’t know, Mercury used to be a sub-luxury marque underneath the Ford Motor Company. The story began quite a long time ago, with Edsel Ford – the son of Henry Ford – establishing the Mercury division back in 1938. As we highlighted earlier, they were supposed to be a middle-priced brand.

Unlike how it is today, there used to be a massive price gap between the more attainable Fords, and the look-at-me-I’m-rich Lincolns. Therefore, Ford needed something to bridge that and offer cars that’ll satisfy those who have a bit more money to spend… But not too much. Consequently, it competed in a market filled with other entry-level-luxury cars like GM’s Oldsmobile or Chrysler’s Studebaker.

From 1945 until it died in 2011, Mercury shared a lot of its resources with Ford and Lincoln. There were extensive parts and platform sharing of vehicles between all 3 of them. We needn’t look further than Ford’s Crown Vic, which spawned the Mercury Marauder (a 4-door muscle car), Mercury Grand Marquis (an upscale executive sedan), and the Lincoln Town Car (a luxurious full-sized limo).

There were plenty of other examples, too. For example, there was the Mercury Mariner, which was a more upmarket variant of the Ford Escape. Or, the Mercury Milan, offering a middle-class alternative to the Ford Fusion and Lincoln Zephyr (aka the MKZ). Alas, Mercury wasn’t as popular as either Ford or Lincoln, with a niche brand image and limited appeal. By 2010, it had a tiny 1% market share.

Mercury Pickup Truck

Mercury had a reputation within the Ford family as more of an outlier, and this was the case even in its heyday. Ford wanted to improve the accessibility and market exposure of its F-Series trucks in the Canadian market. Rather than making more F-Series trucks for the Great White North, they instead rebadged them as Mercury trucks. They even had separate dealer networks from Ford, as well.

Ford of Canada finally introduced the first of Mercury trucks, the M Series, back in 1946. Since there wasn’t as much overlap with Ford dealers, this means that rural truck buyers had more options – it was either the F-Series or the M Series. When we noted earlier that Mercury’s M Series trucks had been rebadging of the F-Series, it really is identical. The earlier Mercury trucks had only subtle variations.

Mainly, you’ll find a distinct Mercury grille, in addition to more chrome exterior trim and a differing interior design, just slightly. In its later years, Mercury trucks barely differentiated themselves from Ford’s F-Series, often re-using much of the interior and exterior trim. However, Mercury wasn’t just marketing their own version of the F-Series, as they then rebadged some of Ford’s other vehicles.

This included Ford’s medium-duty trucks, like the F-500, which Mercury sold as an M Series. Mercury also had the MB Series, which was based off of Ford’s B-Series buses. Plus, Ford’s C-Series cab-over-engine trucks were equally a part of Mercury’s M Series. The latter lived on until 1972, long after the brand’s demise in 1968. It was joined by Mercury’s Econoline EM Series van-trucks, based on Ford’s.

What Happened To Mercury Trucks?

You might be wondering then… What happened to Mercury trucks, and why weren’t they made for the US market? It came to a head in 1965, when the Auto-Pact was signed. That effectively opened the borders between the US and Canada and allowed for tariff-free vehicle production among the two countries. At this point in time, Ford expanded the production of Mercury trucks to the US.

The assembling of Mercury trucks was split between their main plant in Oakville, Ontario, and San Jose, California. By splitting the production line, this allowed the Oakville plant in Canada to supply Ford-branded trucks – yep, it’s the F-Series – to both the Canadian and Eastern US markets. All that time, no Mercury trucks were billed to be sold in the US. After all, it wouldn’t make sense.

 

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Remember, Mercury trucks became a thing after Ford of Canada split up the Ford dealers with the Lincoln-Mercury dealers. As such, Mercury-branded trucks were only built to provide more options, especially for rural buyers that can’t easily reach a Ford dealer. So, a Mercury truck will have to do. This meant that Mercury, as a truck-maker, had a limited lifespan, once Ford’s F-Series took over.

Thus, Ford began winding down the production of the M-Series trucks in the late spring of 1968. Yet, a few leftovers at the tail-end of the production run of the M-Series trucks had been converted back into a Ford F-Series. However, that was not the end, as they continued to build the M Series tilt-cab variants of the Ford C-Series. This lasted until 1972 when Mercury trucks went away for good.

M Series Background

At first, Mercury trucks were named after their GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating). For example, the M-47 trucks had a 4,700lbs GVWR, while their M-68 was rated at 6,800lbs, and the M-135 was good for 13,500lbs, and so on. This was, once again, similar to how Ford named its F-Series trucks back in the day – F-47, F-68, F-135, etc., just replacing the ‘M’ prefix. The naming then changed in the 50s.

Between 1951 and 1952, M Series trucks (just like Ford’s F-Series) were named according to their relative sizes. So, the smallest of the Mercury trucks would be named the M-1, while the larger is called the M-2, and so forth. Closer to the end of its production run, that naming scheme changed again. This time, the names are familiar to how Ford’s F-Series is branded today – F-150, F-250, etc.

The smallest of them would’ve been the M-100 pickup truck, and this gets progressively larger from here. For instance, Mercury once had the M-700, a massive flatbed commercial chassis truck. That’s not to say that Mercury trucks applied a copycat approach to mimic Ford’s F-Series, as there was a myriad of unique details. One example would be the powertrain, and how that differed from Ford.

The earlier F-Series trucks had a variety of engines, with a big V8 being an option on the higher-end models. Meanwhile, all of Mercury’s trucks – until 1957, that is – were offered exclusively with a V8. They were also more upscale than Ford’s utilitarian F-Series trucks. Looking around, you’ll spot that Mercury trucks featured a lot more chrome, and had more plush materials cosseting the cabin.

68 M Series Background

Amongst the colorful family of Mercury trucks, no doubt its most popular model is the M-68, or as it’s otherwise known, the 68M. Classed as a 3/4-ton truck, you’d be hard-pressed to find an M-68 in a serviceable condition these days. But if you happen to run into one, just know that it’s a pretty rare gem. Originally, the M-68 came with a Ford 239 cubic-inch motor, which was just about adequate.

The M-68’s payload capacity isn’t too high, so 100hp and 180lb-ft of torque should be sufficient. An important highlight of the M-68 is its oft-bright and distinct paintwork, particularly around the front grille. This would help to distinguish it more clearly against a mostly similar Ford F-68. Moving on, that flathead Ford V8 is mated to a simple 4-speed manual, featuring a very short first gear.

 

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Stepping inside, the interior is slightly cozier and fancier compared to the F-Series. Elsewhere, it drives and performs just like any Ford F-Series truck, which is to say that it’s a perfect work truck. I’d reckon that given how few of them have survived, it’s probable that a majority of M-68s today were babied at some point. Otherwise, a beat-up M-68 would make for a great restoration project.

Resto-mods are an option, with some folks swapping out the 239 engine to a bigger and beefier 255 Mercury motor. The latter was only available starting from 1952 – out of reach for the earlier trucks. If you are planning on getting one, just be wary of rust. Compared to a period F-Series, the M-68 will be much cheaper to get, sometimes at half the cost – $20,000 to $30,000 is a decent starting price.

100 M Series Background

Having started with the smashing success that was the M-68, Mercury trucks would tragically die as a brand just over two decades later. If the M-68 is a bit too retro for you, maybe the M-100 (aka the 100M) might suit you a bit better. The M-100 is also known to be among the last Mercury trucks, as the company gradually shuttered its presence. And as you would’ve guessed, it’s also a Ford.

Specifically, a rebadged Ford F-100 from the 1960s. Although it’s not aged as long as the M-68, you should be diligent about rust if you’re ever planning on buying one. In particular, they like to appear around the front fenders, underbody, body mounts, and on the cab itself. Besides that, however, an intact M-100 is far easier to find, is modestly reliable, and would be pretty easy to maintain.

 

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Just like the M-68, these old trucks are perfect for a restoration project or if you’d plan on modifying one. After all, only the cosmetics are unique to Mercury. Aside from that, the running gear and every other thing that lies underneath its Canadian-borne bodywork is a Ford. So, getting spare parts and finding mechanics who know their way around it shouldn’t be too tough. Then, there’s the engine.

Originally, the M-100 came with a 223 cubic-inch straight-6, which is good for 139hp, and it’s paired with a 3-speed manual. While it received upgrades throughout the late 50s and into the late 60s, its powertrain was nothing to write home about. With that said, I’ve seen a few modified M-100s which were mated with a 429 cubic-inch V8. By default, that’s an easy 360hp and a lot of tuning potential.

Ford Vs Mercury Trucks

We mentioned thus far that Mercury trucks are generally pretty similar to their Ford counterparts. A few exceptions are present, mind you, but mostly limited to the trim and design. If you’re curious, it’s time for us to break down the nuances…

  • Shiny Red Medallions – Initially, the early trucks can only be differentiated by their badging. Though, later Mercury trucks had bright red medallions, badges, and logos. These red accents could even be found on the hub caps and other parts of the truck.
  • Chrome Finishes – We’ve touched on this earlier, but Mercury was to be a slightly more upscale Ford, in a way. Therefore, you’ll find a lot more chrome – especially around the grille and bumpers – on the Mercury M Series. Meanwhile, F-Series trucks were plain body color.
  • Plastics And Vinyl – This only applies to pre-50s Mercury trucks, mind you. Mercury’s M Series had a dark grey interior trim, including the dashboard, seats, door panels, and so on. Meanwhile, Ford’s F-Series trucks were finished in a tan color.
  • Optional Extras – The Canadian truck market at the time was far smaller than the US – Ford Canada sold about 1/10th as many trucks as Ford USA. Therefore, Mercury buyers in Canada didn’t have as many options as Ford buyers were in the US. This meant a limited model range for the M Series, as well as fewer trim variations, fewer engine choices, and so on.
  • Powertrains Choices – Continuing on from our previous point, this also meant that Ford trucks in the USA got offered newer engines before Mercury trucks in Canada. For instance, 1954 saw Ford’s new overhead V8 engines be fitted to its American-borne cars. Meanwhile, Canadians – not just the Mercury brand, but also Fords, in general – stuck with their tried-and-trusted flathead V8 until 1956.

Should You Get Ford’s Or Mercury’s Trucks?

So far, we learned that Mercury trucks are practically uncanny to their Ford counterparts once you’d look underneath. Having said that, does this mean it won’t many any difference, either way you go? In theory, if getting an F-Series over an M Series denotes only cosmetic changes, why bother picking one over the other? Well, if you’re planning to do a retro-truck project, here’s how they differ…

  • Second-Hand Valuations – Mercury trucks are nowhere near as well-known as Ford’s. I bet that most of you probably didn’t even know they made trucks, right? Owing to this, Mercury trucks can be had for much less than an equivalent Ford. For example, an F-Series from the 1950s could run you about $50,000 for a good one. Meanwhile, a well-kept M-68 from the same era will cost at most $30,000.
  • Rarity And Collectibility – Ford’s F-Series trucks are the best-selling pickups in the world. As a result, you can find one on every street corner, and no one would blink twice. On the other hand, Mercury’s trucks are significantly rarer. It’s hard to find one outside of Canada. And even then, Mercury made so few of them (relatively speaking), that Mercury trucks are more collectible than some exotics.
  • Getting It Registered – If you are keen on getting a Mercury, just know that you’ll have to get past a few hurdles first. Assuming that your Mercury classic truck is residing in Canada, buying them does mean getting it shipped to the US. Plus, you’ll need to have it registered in the US, and maybe some customs paperwork in the meantime. It’s not super challenging, but it’s something to be aware of.

Final Thoughts On Mercury Trucks

Well then, that’s the story of Mercury trucks… Arguably, an F-Series, but better in some regards. It’s certainly rarer, and you won’t find as many Mercury trucks running around as often these days. The Mercury brand only made trucks for just over 26 years, and for all those years, they were essentially rebadged Ford F-Series pickups. So then, why are they so special, and why bother mentioning it?

Well, it’s a matter of what could’ve been. Most of the differentiation between a Ford and a Mercury truck was aesthetic. In short, more chrome, plusher cabins, and a tad more bling on the outside. But imagine if Mercury made trucks in today’s truck-mad world. Maybe, the Canadians could’ve had their own spin on what a luxurious F-150 could look like. But for now, we’ll let Mercury rest in peace.

FAQs On Mercury Trucks

If you’re still puzzled about Mercury trucks, our FAQs here might have the answers…

Did Mercury Make A Truck

Yes, indeed they did! However, Mercury’s venture in making trucks was limited to just Canada, and they weren’t officially sold in the US. This started after Ford of Canada split up their Ford dealership networks from the Lincoln-Mercury ones, although they’re still the same company. This meant that Lincoln-Mercury dealers needed a truck to satisfy their clients. Plus, Ford wanted to increase exposure for their then-new F-Series trucks in Canada, despite the limited sales channels. Therefore, it would be decided that Mercury will rebadge Ford’s F-Series trucks, and sell them as the M-Series. It began as far back as 1946, and Mercury continued making trucks until 1972. For the most part, Mercury’s trucks were identical to Ford’s F-Series, with only a few cosmetic changes and alternations. So, this means that the running gear – engine, transmission, chassis, and all – are carried over from Ford to Mercury.

Is Mercury A Ford

Mercury was a division of the Ford Motor Company, which existed between 1938 to 2011. Mercury was established to be a mid-range brand. In other words, they’d bridge the price gap between their entry-level Ford siblings, and those pricier Lincolns up top. Throughout most of its history, Mercury’s vehicles were rebadged Ford and Lincolns, commonly sharing platforms, parts, and production lines. For example, the Ford Crown Victoria spawned several Mercury and Lincoln models. It included the Mercury Grand Marquis, Mercury Marauder, and Lincoln Town Car. It’s not limited to mere cars, as there were Mercury and Lincoln versions of Ford’s SUVs, vans, trucks, and more. The key difference, however, is that Mercury models are slightly more upscale than Fords. Meanwhile, Lincolns are far more luxurious (and costly) than either brand. In this instance, we looked at the iconic Ford F-Series trucks, and how Mercury rebadged them.

What Year Did Mercury Stop Making Trucks

The passing of the Auto-Pact between the US and Canada in 1965 allowed for tariff-free movement of vehicle production across the border. By this point, Ford could more easily increase production as well as sales of their venerable F-Series trucks, as-is. It made little sense for Ford to have Mercury, a division of the Ford Motor Company, spend money on marketing and selling a rebadged F-Series. So, Mercury started winding down production of their M Series trucks (which were rebadged variants of the F-Series, to be sold exclusively in Canada) in 1968. By late spring of that year, some of Mercury’s M Series trucks that remained in limbo at the plant were converted back to Fords. Although, while a majority of the M Series line-up ceased production by 1968, the M Series tilt-cab (based on Ford’s C-Series trucks) soldiered on until 1972.

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