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Thread: Mercury Sable (1st gen) 1985-1991

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    Mercury Sable (1st gen) 1985-1991

    The Mercury Sable is a range of automobiles that were manufactured and marketed by the Mercury brand of Ford Motor Company. Introduced on December 26, 1985 as the replacement for the Mercury Marquis, the Sable marked the transition of the mid-size Mercury product range to front-wheel drive. For its entire production life, the Sable served as the Mercury counterpart of the Ford Taurus (no Sable equivalent of the Taurus SHO was ever produced), slotted below the Grand Marquis.

    From the 1986 to 2005 model years, the Sable was produced as a mid-size vehicle; four-door sedan and five-door station wagon body styles were offered. For 2006, the Sable was withdrawn, replaced by the full-size Montego and mid-size Milan. For 2008, the Sable was reintroduced as a full-size car, offered solely as a four-door sedan. Due to declining sales, the Sable was discontinued after the 2009 model year, leaving no Mercury counterpart of the sixth-generation Taurus. The final Sable was produced on May 21, 2009; in total, 2,112,374 Sables were produced during its 1985–2005 production. The Mercury Sable nameplate was derived from the sable, a weasel-like mammal from Russia that is valued for its smooth, dark fur.

    Background
    In early 1980, the Mercury Sable began development alongside the Ford Taurus; the $3.5 billion project would become the largest development ever undertaken by Ford at the time. Originally intended to replace its full-size and mid-size rear-wheel drive product lines (Panther and Fox platforms, respectively), the Taurus/Sable were focused toward the mid-size segment in 1981 (the company felt stabilization of gasoline prices justified the continuation of its full-size model lines). The Taurus was to replace the Ford LTD while the Sable replaced the Mercury Marquis. While designed entirely in North America, the Taurus/Sable were designed under a similar approach as the Ford Escort, using an interdisciplinary team approach; each element of the vehicle was designed concurrently, including manufacturing and assembly.

    Along with input from potential buyers (in stark contrast to the Edsel), Ford used reverse engineering of competitive vehicles as a design input tool. During the development of the Sable, Mercury had become one of the final American brands to adopt front-wheel drive into its vehicle line. In 1982, as a sedan/station wagon version of the Chevrolet Citation, General Motors produced the quartet of the Chevrolet Celebrity/Pontiac 6000/Oldsmobile Cutlass/Buick Century; a year later, Chrysler expanded its K cars into the mid-size segment with the first front-wheel drive Chrysler New Yorker. Coinciding with the 1986 launch of the Sable, General Motors downsized Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac full-size sedans to front-wheel drive, only slightly larger than the mid-size Sable.

    For 1983, Mercury underwent a brand revision, with the Cougar reverting to its traditional role as a two-door personal coupe alongside the Ford Thunderbird; while retaining the same chassis underpinnings, the Thunderbird and Cougar underwent a complete exterior redesign, becoming the first Ford cars produced with highly aerodynamic designs, a central objective of the Taurus/Sable design. The 1983 Cougar was well received in the marketplace (outselling the 1983 Thunderbird); Ford would choose to abandon "boxy" car design altogether, influencing other car manufacturers to follow suit during the 1980s. Following the Thunderbird and Cougar, Ford introduced the 1984 Ford Tempo and Mercury Topaz. The compact front-wheel drive replacements for the Ford Fairmont/Mercury Zephyr, the Tempo/Topaz marked the first use of aerodynamic body design by Ford for a sedan.

    First generation 1985-1991
    In mid-1985, Ford unveiled the Mercury Sable alongside the Ford Taurus as a 1986 model. In place of a traditional auto show unveiling, the launch was held an MGM Studios soundstage (where Gone with the Wind was filmed). Ford workers came into the room, which was decorated in space-age decor, holding cups shaped like flying saucers and the Taurus and Sable were sitting behind a curtain. With the flashing of strobe lights and a drum-roll, the curtain was pulled back and the two cars were revealed to the public.Replacing the mid-size Marquis (Cougar prior to 1983) sedan and station wagon, to protect its investment, Ford produced both model lines for the 1986 model year. While it would not outsell its Taurus counterpart, the Sable would prove successful during its production, competing with the Grand Marquis as the highest-selling Mercury model line. As the Mercury brand was not sold in Mexico, Ford of Mexico marketed the Sable as the Ford Taurus. The Sable was on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list on its release in 1986 and again in 1990 and 1991.

    Chassis specification
    The first-generation Sable used the front-wheel drive Ford DN5 platform, sharing its 106-inch wheelbase with the Ford Taurus. As with its Marquis predecessor, the Sable used unibody construction. The Sable is equipped with four-wheel independent suspension. The front axle is fitted with MacPherson struts and a stabilizer bar; the rear axle on sedans is a coil-sprung 4-link layout with a coil-sprung double-wishbone (short/long arm) for station wagons, along with a stabilizer bar. As with the Marquis, the Sable was equipped with front disc brakes and rear drum brakes; station wagons were fitted with larger rear brakes.

    Powertrain
    For the first year on the market, Sable buyers had the choice of a 90 hp HSC 4-cylinder mated to a three-speed automatic transaxle or a 140 hp Vulcan V6 with a four-speed automatic, with the latter having much higher sales. 4-cylinder Sable sales were so poor that the engine was dropped in 1987 (it remained an option for the Taurus until 1991). Ford's 3.8 L Essex V6 was added to the line-up in 1988. Although the power output was rated at the same 140 hp (104 kW) as the 3.0 L engine, this large V6 produced 215 ftlbf (291 Nm) of torque, a welcome addition, especially in the heavier station wagons. However, the 3.8 suffered from premature head gasket failure, which was primarily a fault with Ford's supplier of gaskets, not with the engine itself. Some also attribute this to reduced under-hood cooling. Unlike the Taurus, no manual transmission was offered in the Sable.

    Body design
    The first-generation Sable was offered in two body styles: a four-door sedan and a five-door station wagon. In an extensive departure from its Marquis predecessor, the Sable sedan shares only its doors and roof stamping with the Taurus. To differentiate its roofline, the B, C, and D-pillars of the Sable sedan were blacked out for a "floating roof" effect. In a design that would be adapted by the Mercury Topaz and Tracer (and other automakers in the early 1990s), a low-wattage "lightbar" was fitted between the headlamps. The lightbar design element further showcased the lack of a conventional grille, a design pioneered by the Citron DS and shared with the Ford Mustang SVO and Ford Sierra. Alongside the Taurus, the Sable was the first American-produced sedan to use aerodynamic composite headlights with replaceable halogen bulbs; to begin their use, Ford (and other auto manufacturers) lobbied the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to have them approved, with the 1984 Continental Mark VII becoming the first American car to use them.

    During its production, the first-generation Sable underwent few changes. For 1989, the exterior underwent a mid-cycle revision; the amber parking lamp lenses were replaced by clear units and sedans saw revisions to taillamp lenses. While sharing largely the same features as the Taurus interior, in a departure from tradition, the Sable was designed with a separate interior, with a dashboard as part of the door panels. In sedans, six-passenger seating was standard, with optional front bucket seats reducing capacity to five. In station wagons, a two-passenger rear-facing third-row seat was an option (the first mid-size Mercury station wagon to do so since the 1977 Cougar). For 1990, the Sable underwent a redesign of the dashboard to accommodate the addition of a driver-side airbag; a CD player was added as an option.

    Trim
    The first-generation Mercury Sable was sold in two trim levels, in line with other Mercury models: base-trim GS and top-trim LS. As the first-generation Sable was never sold with a manual transmission, there was no equivalent to the Taurus MT-5 or Taurus SHO.

    Source: Wikipedia
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    Last edited by Man of Steel; 11-04-2019 at 08:40 AM.
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    Mercury Sable (1st gen) #2
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    It has been a long time since I've seen one of these on the roads. They were everywhere when I was a kid. Even in the early '90s the suppository-on-wheels look was still futuristic.
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    This one wasn't that much of a suppository. The third generation Ford Taurus with the round headlights looked very much like one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NSXType-R View Post
    This one wasn't that much of a suppository. The third generation Ford Taurus with the round headlights looked very much like one.
    My buddy had a wagon in high school. Good times.

    They were everywhere too, and now there are 0.

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