Home » Two-Door Dinosaurs: 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis vs 1977 Buick Park Avenue

Two-Door Dinosaurs: 1981 Mercury Grand Marquis vs 1977 Buick Park Avenue

Sbsd 4 18 2024
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Welcome back to Shitbox Showdown! Today we’re looking at an extinct category of car: the two-door full-size luxury car. I’m not talking about personal luxury coupes, but the two-door variants of cars usually sold as four-doors. You’ll need some nice wide parking spots to open these doors.

But let’s check out yesterday’s results from the 1990 Dodge Dakota Convertible vs 1990 C4 Chevy Corvette showdown. I’m a bit surprised by this one; I thought it was going the other way based on the comments. The Corvette ended up winning, and by a pretty significant margin. Several commenters pointed out that the Vette is actually the less exotic of these two, and therefore less interesting, but maybe that worked in its favor? Better the devil you know and all that.

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For me, it has to be the manual transmission Dakota convertible. I really like C4 Vettes, but I can’t stand that later interior. I would have to have an earlier one with the square dash. Besides, a convertible pickup truck is just my kind of weird.

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Now then: Two-door cars are getting rare these days, but there was a time when almost every car that came with four doors was also available with just two, including full-size sedans. Today we’re going to look at two such cars, one from GM and one from Ford. Both are post-downsizing, but neither is what you’d call small. Both of these cars are courtesy of the Underappreciated Survivors group on Facebook. Let’s check them out.

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1981 Mercury Grand Marquis – $5,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 302 cubic inch overhead valve V8, four-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Des Moines, IA

Odometer reading: 82,000 miles

Operational status: Runs and drives well

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Raise your hand if you’ve never seen a two-door squarebody Panther before. That’s what I thought. Ford actually offered the Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis as a coupe until 1987, but they didn’t sell nearly as well as the four-door sedans. Fewer than 5,000 Mercurys like this one were built. And I bet not many at all were green-on-green.

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Matching interiors and exteriors are all but extinct these days too, unless the outside of the car is painted gray or black. This pale green is amazing, and I absolutely love it. The fake woodgrain is the icing on the cake. And it looks like it’s all in beautiful shape, too. The seller says it has some minor cracks in the dash, but nothing I can see from here.

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This Grand Marquis is powered by Ford’s good old 302 V8, equipped with a two-barrel carburetor, and backed by an AOD overdrive automatic. It runs and drives well, and has a new carb and a new alternator. It’s not fast, but it’s not supposed to be; this car is all about sailing down the highway in comfort.

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It looks clean-as-a-whistle on the outside as well, though these four photos are the only ones in the ad, so it’s a little hard to judge. I’m sure the parts we can’t see are just as nice. Yeah, five grand is a little much for an old malaise-era luxury car, but it’s a rare one, in a fantastic color.

1977 Buick Electra Park Avenue – $9,500 Canadian (about $6,900 US)

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Engine/drivetrain: 350 or 403 cubic inch overhead valve V8, three-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Sturgeon County, Alberta, Canada

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Odometer reading: 128,000 kilometers

Operational status: Runs and drives well

Buick’s top-of-the-line Electra was downsized for fuel efficiency in 1977, but it was only a little shorter than the previous model. It was, however, about eight hundred pounds lighter, and that’s what made the difference in economy. The massive 455 cubic inch engine was retired, replaced by either Buick’s own 350 or a 403 cubic inch Oldsmobile engine, itself a replacement for Olds’s legendary 455 “Rocket.” The seller doesn’t specify which engine is in this car.

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The Park Avenue was the top trim level for the Electra, loaded with comfort and convenience features and equipped with plush cushy seats designed by Flexsteel. We joke about cars like this being a “living room on wheels,” but in this case, that’s a lot closer to the truth. This one has a little wear and tear inside, but it still looks mighty comfy.

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It runs and drives well, according to the seller, and has only 128,000 kilometers (a little under 80,000 miles) on the clock. Everything works, and if my old LeSabre is any indication, it’s an amazing highway cruiser. Thirsty, sure; even downsized, I bet it doesn’t do much better than fifteen or sixteen miles per gallon, but oh so comfortable.

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Tight parking spaces are a bit of a problem; just look at how much of that side profile is door. At least it makes getting into the back seat easier. I do wonder, however, how much the impracticality of the long doors led to the demise of cars like this.

These things are terribly impractical, there’s no denying that. They’re very large compared to their interior room, they’re inefficient, and they have the driving dynamics of a marshmallow. But they’re also unlike anything on the road today. Either one would make a nice weekend cruiser. Which one moves you?

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(Image credits: Facebook Marketplace sellers)

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Greensoul
Greensoul
1 month ago

The fact that both of these dinosaurs have those godawful shoulda never been legal silver background colors on the gauges is not helping. OMG how I hated gages (gauges? GM never could figure out the term) with silver backgrounds back in the day

Greensoul
Greensoul
1 month ago

undecided here. I had an 80 park Avenue coupe (the front clip was a bit more square on the 80 model) with the after market dealer installed real wood interior trim package. That car was like riding on cloud. Baby blue, white top, lush blue velour lazy boy seats. That said, that green on green Marquis is making me feel things I haven’t felt in years without a little blue pill LOL. Something about a green on green Panther….

Marty Densch
Marty Densch
1 month ago

Frankly, I’d take either one. Both if I could. The Mercury gets the nod because I like my Fords and the T-square design language from this era.

TDI in PNW
TDI in PNW
1 month ago

I’ll take the brand new looking, green on green Merc.

My son (19) would love either of these. We gave him our 2005 Acura RL, a pretty great car still, (and… a beige car we slept on) but somehow, his current desire is an old 70s station wagon with wood paneling.

Timothy Swanson
Timothy Swanson
1 month ago

The green by itself would be enough. But add in better interior condition, and the problem of smogging a Canadian car in California, it’s no contest.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
1 month ago

Park Avenue

I am Dr. Wu and I am with you
I am Dr. Wu and I am with you
1 month ago

Three thoughts:

  1. Normally with these comparisons, I ask myself, “Which car makes me look more professorial?”.
  2. In my neighborhood, many houses have been renovated/rehabbed/rebuilt with the exterior being white/off-white/eggshell. Interestingly, many choose to have a light green or metallic pea colored front door. This prompts me to ask, “What is ‘Behind the Green Door’ ?”.
  3. I feel the Mercury Grand Marquis could answer the question of what is ‘Behind the Green Door’ twice over and would look fantastic in front of my house. With the green front door. I would have an unholy trinity of green doors to be behind.

That is all.

Marantzer
Marantzer
1 month ago

Easy choice, Mercury. I had an 85 Grand Marquis LS coupe….white with dark brown velour interior…..and have a 2001 Grand Marquis LS (88K miles) with the Performance Handling Package which includes the CVPI suspension up front with the air suspension in back along with standard duel pipes. Mine is an early production 01 with the 3.55 rear end. Add in a set of mellow Thrush Turbo mufflers and a K&N cold air intake and many have been surprised when a giant Arizona Beige Mercury smokes them off the line.

I also had a 72 Marquis Brogham with a 429. I love old Fords and newer Panthers.

My Other Car is a Tetanus Shot
My Other Car is a Tetanus Shot
1 month ago

That Mercury just screams for the sleeper treatment.

Take out the 302, throw a 4-bbl and cylinder heads on top and a cam in it, reinstall. Maybe a slightly better exhaust system, but nothing too overt. Put some better gears in the rear-end.

Now one’s ’70s-era boat is a decent hot-rod.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 month ago

It’s got a retired cop’s motor. It’s got retired cop’s tires, retired cop’s suspension, retired cop’s shocks…

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
1 month ago

If that Buick had a white or red interior – I’d be all over it.
But that color combo – it had to be a custom order – and it’s awful.

Mom had a Mercury – I had a Mercury.
I’ll take the Mercury.

Jeff Wheeler
Jeff Wheeler
1 month ago

My dad, who bought two in a row (new, even), was apparently the target market for the 2-door Grand Marquis. His rationale was that 4-doors were for old people, while somehow not thinking Gran Marquis (Marquix? Marquises?) were also for old people.

Hotdoughnutsnow
Hotdoughnutsnow
1 month ago

With the Marquis, at first I was like ‘Ewww, 80’s Mercury’, but then I saw the inside and was like ‘Ewwww; gimme!’
Also; when I was a kid, my Grandmother had a 77 Buick LeSabre, my parents had a 79 Buick Estate wagon, and then an 88 Olds Custom Cruise wagon… all three were basically the same car. I wouldn’t be surprised if the parts numbers for the interior were the same.

Steve Wilson
Steve Wilson
1 month ago

The early Panthers make awkward 2-doors–blocky, overhanging too much all around–but this one is too good not to vote for. Had it been up against a ’77-’79 Olds 88 or creased-window Chevy instead of an Electra, though, I’d very much be in the GM camp.

Dickson Schitt
Dickson Schitt
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Wilson

i had a 2-door vic with a 295 tire.lol it filled the rear wheel well out perfectly. add to that ltd wagon springs to give it a rake and side exhaust it looked and sounded cool but couldn’t get out of its own way.

TheDiscerningMillenial
TheDiscerningMillenial
1 month ago

My initial reaction was to go with the Buick. But the condition, color and price on that Mercury just can’t be beat in this matchup.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago

My vote goes to the Green Grand Marquis since it’s nearly half the cost.

As for how these stack up, both of these will have a smooth ride, but shit handling. The Buick should be a bit faster, but not enough to justify paying nearly double.

And both will be horrible gas guzzlers especially in light of the lousy performance.

In the case of the Mercury, given the AM radio, this might be a base trim model… which means it might just be a ‘Marquis’, not a ‘Grand Marquis’… which could mean it has the craptastic 4.2L V8.

And this is a real possibility given the seller didn’t provide any rear pictures which help indicate which one it is.

Last edited 1 month ago by Manwich Sandwich
Sergey R.
Sergey R.
5 days ago

this trim “Marquis Brougham”. And I have a photo of this Merc rear, which don’t help indicate engine model)) .But there is 302 and AOD.

Cyko9
Cyko9
1 month ago

The Buick looks surprisingly more modern for it’s age (or maybe the Mercury just looks that much older), but the Mercury is in such great condition, I voted for it. A bit pricey still, but more worth it than the Buick.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
1 month ago

That Mercury has been for sale for a while, and I love it in all its greenness, but I’m a GM guy so it has to be the Park for me. Although Mark says, “These things are terribly impractical, there’s no denying that. They’re very large compared to their interior room, they’re inefficient, and they have the driving dynamics of a marshmallow.”, that’s all the things they *weren’t when they were new.

XLEJim700
XLEJim700
1 month ago

Park Disco for me. Stayin’ Alive!!

AlterId
AlterId
1 month ago

I too prefer the green-over-green of the Mercury to the Buick’s red-over-tan/brown/dirt, but the clincher is that the Merc has Brougham trim and electric windows but an AM-only radio, as I don’t think they were doing the ’60s-style AM with stereo 8-track by 1981. Since I’d use a Bluetooth speaker to avoid damage from an audio upgrade anyway, that combo’s strange enough to appeal.

Last edited 1 month ago by AlterId
Sergey R.
Sergey R.
5 days ago
Reply to  AlterId

A really strange package (perhaps this is how the first owner wanted it), because I have exactly the same 1981 Marquis Brougham, only in different colors and I have an AM/FM radio + cassette.

Cerberus
Cerberus
1 month ago

Damn, I’ve officially reached old age where I’ve come to the point that this is a tough one. I like the looks of the Buick better and something about the lurid red on a big boat is appealing to me in the same silly way it being a 2-door is. If it was a B body, I probably would have gone that way, but the Mercury is in incredible shape and the colors are amazing—especially the interior—and while nobody you’ll actually want to notice it will, the rarity factor still has appeal. Add the lower price in and that seals it. Had a friend in high school whose father had a bit of a stockpile of sedans (literally, he wanted to drive nothing else until he died) of these Mercs and a couple limos and they were comfortable and ran forever. Several of them had near or over 300k miles. The other thing about them is that they’re virtually speeding ticket proof—not only are they the kind of vehicle a cop will let slide more as well as not being fast, but they’re just laid back vehicles where it’s easy to find yourself being that asshole leading a parade when you check your mirror.

CTSVmkeLS6
CTSVmkeLS6
1 month ago
Reply to  Cerberus

That big bad bruiser Buick is a bodacious B-body after all so you’re in luck!

Cerberus
Cerberus
1 month ago
Reply to  CTSVmkeLS6

Electra was the larger C-body, like the Olds 98 and De Ville. Maybe you’re thinking the LeSabre? That was the B-body and they looked pretty similar (after your comment, I even had to look it up to make sure I didn’t get mixed up).

CTSVmkeLS6
CTSVmkeLS6
1 month ago
Reply to  Cerberus

Oh shoot- yep you’re right. My bad, I was thinking, LeSabre… Good call, sir. Thanks for the correction!! Good call

Cerberus
Cerberus
1 month ago
Reply to  CTSVmkeLS6

Always glad to be able to nerd out about completely undeserving mediocre cars!

Millermatic
Millermatic
1 month ago

Grew up with a 2-door ’73 Chevelle Malibu.

Those doors are heavy.

Marathag
Marathag
1 month ago
Reply to  Millermatic

Doors on my ’73 2drHT Malibu were heavier than the ’72 2drHT Marquis, by a good margin

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
1 month ago

Oh, gosh, the colors inside and outside on that Mercury are seriously awesome. However, a friend’s dad, a business executive who was on the road a lot, bought such a Mercury of that era and returned it after about a week; apparently it was so horrible that the more and more he drove it the madder and madder he got. He used that to his advantage, being good and mad in addition to his skills as an executive, when he went back to the Mercury dealership at the end of the week so he was able to actually get a full refund on the Mercury. Astonishing! How often does that happen, being able to get a full refund on a new car like that?? Especially after driving it for several days, at least back in that era? He actually got a Buick of some kind, very much like the one on offer today, and apparently never looked back at any FoMoCo products again. So this Buick, with its awesome exterior color, got my vote, disconcerting interior notwithstanding.

Last edited 1 month ago by Collegiate Autodidact
Anthony Henderson
Anthony Henderson
1 month ago

That’s all the anecdotal evidence I need!!!

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
1 month ago

Yeah, lol. While it’s not entirely clear whether you were being sarcastic, it’s indeed true that anecdote =/= data, but this was just so memorable about my friend’s dad’s situation it’s always stuck with me and my subsequent experiences with malaise-era FoMoCo products have only served to validate that account; my experiences with malaise-era GM & Chrysler products, which indeed tended to be not perfectly cromulent, never approached such levels of, uh, malaise.

Last edited 1 month ago by Collegiate Autodidact
Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 month ago

I am morally, logically, and aesthetically opposed to Blue Oval products (except anything that involves the word “Cosworth”) but that Mercury is fantastic in all its upright awkwardness.

EastbayLoc
EastbayLoc
1 month ago

I had to go Mercury. I love their big comfy cruisers and that green on green is so clean. It’s also 5K.

The Buick is ok but I hate the seat and especially the carpet color unless the goal is hiding vomit stains. And priced around 6900 is way too much. And it’s in Canada, way far north Canada.

And growing up, Buick was always the old man car complete with the smell of pipe smoke mixed with Dinty Moore farts.

Jonathan Green
Jonathan Green
1 month ago

This is one of the best comparisons in a while. Hard choice, but I’d go with the Buick. I think they just do luxury better than Mercury.

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