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Ford Mercury brand terminated
The last Mercury, a Mariner, rolled off the line on Oct. 3, although more are being produced for government agencies.

As of today, the Mercury name disappears from dealerships, marking the end of a once-heralded brand that was a step up from Ford, the everyday people's car.

Today, few recall that Mercury once was beloved as a stylish and powerful ride. It had roles in movies ranging from "Rebel Without a Cause" (James Dean was behind the wheel of a customized 1949 Mercury) to "On His Majesty's Secret Service," in which James Bond's love interest drove a souped-up red 1969 Cougar XR-7 known as the Eliminator.

Their fans aside, recent Mercurys weren't different enough from Ford to attract auto buyers in sufficient numbers, experts say.

"Mercury has been a redundant brand for Ford for at least the last five years, if not longer," said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends and insight for the auto research website TrueCar.com. "For the most part, they were just cosmetically enhanced Fords."

Mercury was designed to be an automobile "for the aspirational class," Toprak said, "for those who couldn't quite afford a Lincoln but wanted something more distinctive than a Ford. But that strategy didn't stick."

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