Released in model year 1975 alongside the Ford Granada; the cars, which were badge-engineered, were identical save for the grille, taillights and some interior and exterior trim. A total of 575,567 Monarchs were produced during this time period. For 1981, the Granada was replaced with a smaller version based on Ford's Fox platform, and the Mercury version took the Cougar name.
Past use of "Monarch" name
Monarch was a brand of automobile produced by Ford of Canada from 1946 to 1957 and from 1959 to 1961. It was introduced to give Ford dealers a product to sell in the medium-price field. This was typical practice in the Canadian market, where smaller towns might have only a single dealer who was expected to offer a full range of products in various price classes. The Monarch was dropped for 1958 when the Edsel was introduced, but the poor acceptance of the Edsel led Ford to reintroduce Monarch for 1959. With a drop in medium-priced vehicle sales in the early 1960s, and the introduction of the similarly priced Ford Galaxie, the Monarch was dropped after the 1961 model year.
Monarch used the contemporary Mercury body with only unique grilles, taillights and other trim to distinguish them. Model names included Richelieu, Lucerne and Sceptre.
Although developed as the replacement for the aging Comet, external circumstances outside Ford forced the Mercury division to keep both models as the 1970s progressed. The Monarch shared the same platform as its predecessor (developed from the first-generation Ford Falcon). To compete against European and Japanese competitors, the Monarch was given an all-new body; while heavily influenced by Mercedes-Benz, the front and rear styling still carried many styling cues from larger Fords and Mercury models.
“The Ford Motor Company’s planners had originally intended to replace the Maverick and Comet with all-new, but comparable, lines for 1974. However, the energy crisis which revived the market for these cars forced a change in strategy and it was decided to continue building them. A further decision was to redirect the new model program toward developing two similar-sized, but upgraded, lines. Thus, a pair or more-luxurious-than-customary compacts arrived as 1975 models: the Ford Granada and Mercury Monarch.”
As the energy crisis killed off demand for sporty cars, luxury cars came into demand, even more so for smaller models. After introducing the Monarch, the division found relatively little competition from domestic automakers; at the time, personal luxury cars were based on full-sized models, which had not undergone downsizing. Along with the somewhat larger Chrysler Cordoba and Cadillac Seville, the Monarch helped to break the long-standing traditions in the Big Three that size went hand-in-hand with luxury.
The base engine was Ford's 200 cid inline six-cylinder engine, with a 250 cid inline six optional. V8 power came from two engines: the 302 cid and 351 cid Windsor.
Grand Monarch Ghia
The Mercury Grand Monarch Ghia was an upscale version of the Monarch built in 1975 and 1976. Grand Monarch Ghia had four-wheel disc brakes with a sophisticated central hydraulic power system as standard equipment. Other standard luxury features included:
- Leather trim
- Vinyl roof
- LCD clock
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Power steering
- Dual map lights
- Illuminated visor vanity mirror (passenger side)
- 14-inch, cast-aluminum spoke wheels
- Solid-state ignition
- Whitewall steel-belted radial tires
- Reclining bucket seats with matching map pockets
- Plusher carpeting and soundproofing
According to the May 1976 edition of Car and Driver, three out of five of Ford’s top executives, including Henry Ford II, used the Mercury Grand Monarch Ghia as their personal car.
In the spring of 1977, Lincoln introduced the Versailles, based on the Granada/Monarch platform. The Versailles had many of the same luxury features as the Mercury Grand Monarch Ghia. Despite the high content, a lack of styling differentiation (and a price double that of the Monarch) failed to attract buyers.
The brand identity of Lincoln suffered when they began selling a clone of the Granada rather than a product that significantly differentiated itself from other Ford products. In 1980, it was discontinued after approximately 50,000 were sold. Along with the Cadillac Cimarron, the Versailles is known as an example of one of the worst uses of badge engineering.