The 1949 Merc gained legendary status thanks to the 1955 movie Rebel Without a Cause starring James Dean. For 1949, Mercury switched from using Ford to Lincoln bodies. This year's all-new model featured wrap-around bumpers and the now-classic coil grille. Several features made the '49 Mercury a favorite of hot rodders, including a body that lent itself to being chopped and channeled and a flathead V-8 that was easy to soup up.
Foreshadowing the use of polymers and the introduction of glass-roofed vehicles, the '54 Mercury Sun Valley's claim to fame was its Plexiglas half-roof. Tinted green, the bubble-top dramatically changed the occupants' view of the world. A snap-in sunshade was option, but air conditioning was not. The model went out of production in 1956.
Sometimes it's the small innovations that catch your attention. The 1957 Turnpike Cruiser was the first hardtop model to feature the "Breezeway," a roll-down rear window. In a time before air conditioning was common, the feature dramatically increased interior comfort on warm days.
Finally, Mercury gets its own version of the Mustang. Seen here with the quintessential all-American Dan Gurney, the Cougar was a significant step up from the lower-priced, blue-collar Mustang. Following generations of Cougars would lose their predatory edge and go extinct in 1988.
The Mercury Marauder makes our list as much for its name, which has great alliteration and is decidedly non-PC. Can you imagine any company introducing a "Marauder" now? Regardless, two models stand out during the years Mercury intermittently offered the nameplate from 1963 through 2004.
The most audacious model is the 1969 X100. This five-seat coupe measured more than 18 feet. Note the flying buttress B-pillars, rear fender skirts and dramatic two-tone paint. Power came from a 360-hp 429-cid engine. Can you guess what the mad men at Mercury's advertising agencies were driving in 1969?
The Marauder disappeared until 2003, when it returned as a last gasp of anything cool to come from Mercury. The Marauder was the evil twin of a Grand Marquis, but Mercury missed the opportunity by skimping on the car's engine power and ignoring the fact that the country's urban car culture was totally down on the ride.