What is it about American car advertisements of the 1970s that feel so, I don’t know, culty? Look at this 1977 Mercury Marquis ad: there’s just something about the way the woman and the two kids are posed, the sorta-Victorian clothes, the manicured lawn, the stiffness, the formality, the heavy-handed opulence, it all just makes this whole thing feel like The Exalted Leader is about to come out and be lovingly ushered into his Marquis by those three and likely a throng of near-identical adoring acolytes. It’s creepy!
Also worth noting here are the headlight covers on this Mercury which are, in an incredible fit of ’70s perverse opulence, upholstered. Yes, those are padded, upholstered headlight covers, complete with a weird little fake coat of arms in the center.
The ’70s were some weird-ass times, friends.
Can anyone tell me why all these 70’s era car photos are taken at sundown?
Was it because those hardworking buyers were at a job all day, then finally get off work, then grabbed the family and raced to a dealership, then asked for that same baby-crap green Merc that matched photo of the one with lighting roundabout 7:43 pm?
Obviously a cult but which one? The Branch Autopians?
Oooo! If we are starting a cult here, I want in. What do we want as a cult? Not eternal darkness or damnation, something cool. But what?
I mean surely the cult is following ‘the light’ but what nobody realizes is that the light is actually just some obscure tail light on a pedestal. Legend says when it illuminates the world will be plunged into relative darkness.
I’m guessing that light is 6-volt.
+1 lit match
Same headlight covers on Dad’s 78 Marquis. They don’t take well to stone chips.
What a delightfully ugly car!
It totally looks like something a cult leader would drive. The upholstered headlamp covers with the fake coat of arms is grotesque. Given the fuel crisis of the time, marketing departments somehow determined people wanted cars that were commonly perceived as ugly back then, rather than tripling highway fuel economy and greatly improving highway performance by streamlining the crap out of the cars to a form with less than 1/3 the overall drag as could have been done, and the automakers wouldn’t have even needed to downsize the engine displacement to do it.
It is what people wanted then, though. Consumers had their flirtation with economy cars between 73 and 74, but as the immediate memory of the oil embargo faded, people went right back to buying gas swilling land yachts.
People wanted cars to have what where thought of as limousine or limousine-like styling cues to create an image of wealth and luxury
Most of the cues could be traced back to prewar coachbuilt luxury cars in one way or another. The padded vinyl was supposed to emulate the fact that big limousine bodies in the ’20s and ’30s used to often be made of a wood frame with a fabric exterior skin to keep weight down.
Large cars like the Tatra T77A, Citroen DS, Horsch 930 S, Hotchkiss Gregiore, were all built before the 70s and definitely commanded a presence on the road and had a very supple ride quality. They were also much more streamlined than the typical cars of the 70s like that Gran Marquis, the Tatra’s drag coefficient of 0.21 in particular not ever beaten by a mass produced car until the Tesla Model S PLAID came out almost 90 years later than it!
Most of the cars of the 70s have not held up well. Aesthetically, they are eyesores. Perfect vehicles to make goth rides out of though! The baroque factor is strong in those.
It’s Marquis De Sade’s illegitimate great-great grandchildren claiming what their dillusional minds think is “their” chariot.
I still find it sad that Ford never did a proper DeSade edition for the Marquis.
Some came close, like with the Marauder, but needed Texas style Swangas
Looks like a cult I would like to join. A what level do I get a Mark V?
A recruit wants initiation into the Cult of the Marquis?
First you must prove you are a true masochist. The padding on the headlight covers is to (heh, heh) soften the blow in case the initiation rite goes a bit awry. I’m sorry but I can’t reveal more except that it involves a crosswalk, a blindfold, and a virgin too young to have a driver’s license at the wheel…
To reach Mark V level you must buy 2000 miles worth of gasoline ( premium, natch) for the car while taking a summer vacation with your wife, two little kids , your mother-in-law and her poodle.
Looks like a still from the original the Stepford Wives.
(underrated, real slowburn ’70s quasi-horror flick)
Haha I was about to say the same thing
Whoa! I did not realize that the early 2000’s movie was a remake of an older film. Far out.
It’s a good movie, done as techno horror with a good creeping sense of unease, as compared to the campy (WTF?) remake.
Thematically, manages to hit both feminism and urban decay, so it’s as high-70s as the Mercury pictured here!
Craziest thing about the original The Stepford Wives – the copyright was assigned to drug maker Bristol-Myers, now Bristol-Myers-Squibb. It’s right there at the end of the credits.
Definitely cult. And when those headlights open up, whoever does not survive judgement will immediately burst into flames.
Like that scene in Indiana Jones with the Ark of the Covenant?
Eh, not quite a cult. She is the wife of a fast rising Illinois politician currently running for governor, but with his sights set clearly on the White House. What he doesn’t know is that he married a succubus who is using her demonic powers to give him the illusion of charisma and wisdom that many voters fall for. Once she achieves her goal of putting hubby in the Oval Office, she will use her powers to control him and Congress to enact laws and wage wars to prep the world for the end times. People’s rights will be trampled, dictators will engage in battle, the world will burn like never before!!!
That sounds pretty tame for Illinois
Had I been drinking coffee, you would owe me a keyboard.
Illinois Citizens: “That’s a platform we can get behind. You’ve got our vote!”
She’s not from Illinois, she’s from Downstate Eastern Illinois, which is just western Indiana, but you can buy pot and get an abortion.
Nah. Denny Hastert drove a Lincoln back then. Our neighbors were friends with him.
ultimately Big Jim Thompson realized that the grift to be had in Illinois was in fact sufficient, no national office needed. For God’s sake, he established a ‘Foreign Commerce Office’ and insisted he take all the meetings himself, in person, in every overseas country worth going to
There’s something odd about that picture besides the woman with the two girls… I know, I don’t think I ever saw a Grand Marquis of this vintage without a vinyl roof. Vinyl light covers, but no vinyl roof. The first corporate job I had post college in the 70s had all Grand Marquis company cars. I just remember they being cushy, quiet and actually adequately powered with reasonable handling. Not bad cars at all
I think that’s because it’s a Marquis, not a Grand Marquis, a bit of brand displacement that replaced the Monterey as Mercury’s Delta88/Polara/Catalina.
I see, this is actually a starter kit Mercury then. I don’t recall seeing a lot of Marquis without the “Grand”
The the woman look like she has a mustache and goatee? Saw a 77 Chevy Caprice today in brand new condition with a brand new 700hp motor in it.
The Children of the Damned indeed ride around in style. Might want to look the other way when those upholstered hideaways flip up.
Car like a coffin and Mom and the girls dressed for ornate beekeeping. It’s Exorcist Chic!
If you want the ultimate car for that Exorcist chic look, then you need a Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 4.5 sedan like the one in the film.
Is it a coincidence that America started losing its way when we stopped building cars like this? I think not!
I would argue these cars were a symptom of already having lost our way
That ad is the immediate answer to those creepy Chrysler ads of the late 60s and early 70s. They’re the ones with the creepy old men clutching the young girls who are gazing into the camera, silently begging for someone to just come and help them escape from whatever hell is going on after the cameras are put away.
Clearly a white wedding, but they couldn’t get that Mercury to…start again.
Was it a nice day for that white wedding?
That’s a real car, as seen on TV.
Squealing tires on Hawaiian dirt roads.
Book her Dano!
Apparently, 1970s automobile marketing staffs firmly believed that all Americans longed to be European royalty. Since these marketeers had never set foot in Europe, their images of Scottish hunting parties, French estates, and Italian castles fall into the uncanny valley.
To bolster my case I give you:
Mercury Marquis – a Marquis doesn’t need a fake family crest on their headlights
Chrysler LeBaron – and Barons will not be found in Chryslers
Pontiac LeMans – a French racetrack they couldn’t find on a map
Chevy Monza – ditto for Italy
Ford Granada – an ugly car named for a beautiful Spanish city
Ford Torino – not so ugly car named for a lovely Italian city
Pontiac Grand Prix – which actually means “big prize”, well it was big
Buick LeSabre – a light maneuverable sword in France, seems appropriate
Buick Riviera – just try to drive one in Nice
Dodge Monaco – ditto for Monaco
and let’s not forget…
Corinthian leather – were the ancient Greeks known for their leather?
This is SPARTA!
Well, LeBaron was a legitimately high end coachbuilding & design house that Chrysler acquired and gradually turned into just a model name (see also Fleetwood and Vanden Plas), but it is true that the name was always a contrived brand that was just picked to sound fancy
Hem… I would LOVE one such Merc’ in coupe form but with full BMW 4.4-liter X-drive engine/trans underneath.
You, sir, have had too much of the community Kool-Aid.
(While walking like a zombie with arms outstretched)
“Must. Buy. Green. Car.”
Green hued cars of the late’ 60s thru ’70s were awesome
This screams Wicker Man to me.
I should point out that those are *not* upholstered headlight covers but upholstered-*look* headlight covers. I suspect they’re a single plastic/fiberglass molding with the chrome surround and coat-of-arms added as separate pieces. I’ve never taken one apart to confirm, but notice the “padded” part is body color, even when the car has a contrasting vinyl top.
There’s a similar panel between the taillights that IS color-matched to the vinyl top, but that entire piece has the padded-look texture, the headlight cover if it is all one piece has a significant smooth’n’shiny surface.
The add is weird, but I think the more advertisements for Lincoln over the last several years with Matthew McConaughey were the creepiest.
Since this offering is also from the Lincoln-Mercury Division (as was the Mercury Cougar from last week) and both featured models that seemed “cult like” I’m wondering if both the Marquis and Cougar print ads came from the same advertising agency?
Same compound, same cult
They did, Kenyon & Eckert. Fun fact: Henry Ford II’s third wife was a Cougar ad model.