2003 Mercury Messenger Concept
A delivery of wishful hopes for revitalization
Unfortunately, despite the Messenger’s timely arrival, its parcel of hopes would prove to be of the unfulfilled variety.
According to ancient Roman mythology, Mercury was the messenger of the heavens. That coordinates well with the concept’s name.
Mythology also describes Mercury as the god of speed and agility which is probably a more fitting description for this athletic-looking show piece; which by the way, happened to be charged with the task of inspiring the brand’s future.
Fairy tales aside, the Messenger concept which was revealed at the 2003 North American International Auto Show in Detroit certainly looks agile and capable of speed. Unfortunately, it was only created as a styling exercise. Mechanically speaking, it is just an empty shell.
Capable of being rolled around for displays, the Messenger’s designers merely planned for hypothetical mechanical bits. The envisioned bits included a 302 BHP, dual overhead cam 4.6-liter modular V-8 engine. Those front-mounted, eight cylinders would power the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
Ahead of the engine bay, the large functional air inlets would not only feed a radiator but also direct cooling air to the ventilated disc brakes.
Above those intakes sits attractively slim, smoked-lens headlights. As seen above to the right, the rear of the car mimics the front with slim, smoked tail lights. Exhaust outlets incorporated into rectangular surrounds complete the look initiated at the nose.
The Messenger rides on 20-inch wheels at the rear and 19-inch wheels at the front.
The upward-angled side windows subtly hint at Mercury designs from the past, namely the Cougar.
The Messenger’s profile indicates a convertible version could have been a natural.
Inside, the design is as clean as its restrained exterior. Textured and soft-touch materials abound, and controls and switchgear are not fussy in their presentation.
Some large, toggle-type switches are reminiscent of those found in the rare and new for 2003 Ford GT sports car.
Mercury’s loss is another’s gain
Much like other concepts and prototypes I’ve written about, the 2003 Mercury Messenger was auctioned off.
In its final full year (2010), Mercury’s US sales totaled only 93,195 units. That’s less than 50 percent of what they sold in 2003 when the Messenger was envisioned. (Even Mercury’s 2003’s sales total was roughly half of what it was in 2000.) The writing was on the wall.
On June 2, 2010, Ford announced the closure of Ford’s Mercury division. That closure would take effect by the end of that year. As with GM’s fire-sale in early 2009, during which roughly 200 of its historical gems were sold, Ford sold off some history in 2010. The Messenger was put up for bid at an RM Auction event at Pebble Beach in mid-August, 2010. No doubt spurred by the fact the Mercury brand is extinct, the undrivable concept car fetched a healthy $52,250.