Home Car Stories 20 Years + 1964 MERCURY Park Lane Marauder- Homer Gilliland
1964 MERCURY Park Lane Marauder- Homer Gilliland PDF Print E-mail
Written by Double Dragon
Thursday, 13 January 2011 10:48

1964 MERCURY Park Lane Marauder- Homer Gilliland


64 marauder check flag closeup

Writing and photography by and copyright D. S. Brown, except for Tennessee DOT documents which remain the property of Tennessee DOT and the Mercury ads and brochure pages which are copyright Mercury/ Ford.

When an "Elvis Presley gives away a car" story is told, the car is a Cadillac. Once in awhile he deviated from this practice by giving away a Stutz Bearcat, or buying pickup trucks for each member of his entourage, but the Cadillac was the gifting car of choice. This fact works against a theory about the history of our feature car. This car is not a Cadillac, but it is the top prestige model offered by Mercury in 1964, the Park Lane Marauder.

64 marauder top

The first registered owner of this Marauder, Homer Gilliland lived in Dyersburg, Tennessee. Elvis enters the picture, because in the 1950s and 1960s, Elvis' occasional barber was named Homer Gilliland. At the time of this writing we have no idea if they are one and the same, but it's an interesting possibility. The Homer that came to Elvis' home back in the 1950s to cut his hair usually worked in Goldsmith's Department Store on 4545 Poplar Avenue in Memphis, TN. Coincidentally this Marauder was bought from a car dealer on a Poplar Avenue located in Jackson, TN. Would Elvis have given away a Marauder instead of a Cadillac? Possibly.

However; it is 76 miles from Dyersburg to Memphis, which casts doubt on the Elvis theory. Who would commute that distance everyday? Interestingly, though, in two short months after taking delivery of his new car, Homer had racked up 6,000 miles, which is about how many miles you would accumulate from a 160 mile daily work commute. The most obvious explanation for the mileage is that Homer took a long road trip upon getting the car, but who knows?

64 marauderinterstate 69

Homer's 1964 was actually the second year for Mercury's full size stormer, the Marauder. A press release on Feb 14, 1963 first introduced the Marauder as a 1963 1/2 model. The Marauder name had already been around for several years, designating high performance engines. This was the first time the Marauder name was applied to a production car. The stock car racing wins racked up by a Mercury car called the Marauder provided the impetus for naming the production car as a tie-in to those victories. The S-55 version of the Marauder included bucket seats and a 4 barrel version of the 390 engine. Below is an ad from CAR LIFE June 1963.



In 1963 Ford had just released its new NASCAR engine, the 427 and made it available for installation in the Galaxie and the corresponding high performance full size Mercury. The Galaxie and Marauder are easily spotted by their fastback window. On the Mercury it really stands out when contrasted to the reverse slant breezeway back window seen on the regular full-size Mercurys. The Marauder returned for 1964, but was now available as an option on all the Mercury full size body styles. The hottest version of the 390 was reserved for top of the line Park Lane, shown below.


Above and below are two pages from the Mercury showroom brochure for 1964. Interestingly, the example car used is a 2 door Carnival Red Park Lane Marauder, which is the same color and body style as our feature car.


The fastback window is the easiest way to identify a Marauder regardless of the platform it appears on. The Marauder name was applied to both two door and four door versions of the Monterey, Montclair, and the highest trim level Park Lane. The top Mercury made in 1964 was the Park Lane which was intended to fill the gap separating regular Mercury and Lincoln. This provided a smooth cost incline from bottom Ford to top price Lincoln.

Hence, the ultimate Marauder package for 1964 would be a two door Park Lane. The hottest engine was the 427 dual quad 425 HP engine. The two and four door Marauder 390s comprise the majority of the cars produced. The solid lifter 427 was ordered in very small numbers by hard core racers. According to the Mecum site, a 427 dual quad Park Lane Marauder they had for sale in 2009 was one of only 42 dual quad 427s made that year. Nine of them were installed in 2 door Park Lane Marauders. Three are still known to exist.

The Marauder in two door body style was fairly racy looking for such a big car. It had a chrome checkered flag on the front fenders and the fastback window. The interior used real gauges for speed, temp, fuel, alternator and oil pressure. Below is a picture from the Mercury brochure showing the dash board finished in the same red trim as our feature car. The center of the 1964 steering wheel has the Mercury 25th anniversary spelled out in Roman numerals. Mercury came up with a gimmick tie in by providing a first year Mercury car to allow testers to evaluate it alongside the current 25th anniversary car. MOTOR TREND admitted that the new 1964 car was better in every way despite fond memories of that earlier car.


Our feature car is an ultimate Marauder. It is the top line Park Lane and a two door, but 'only' a 390. However, the Park Lane gave you the 300 HP version of the 390 engine standard, while the lesser Monterey and Montclair Marauder packages gave you the 250 HP version of the 390 standard. According to the Mercury Marauder Club website, 2,721 two door Park Lane Marauders were manufactured in 1964. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN CARS lists only 1,052 made that year, but this older figure may have been revised by new information known to the MMC website. Whatever the exact number, it was not a high volume car.

64 marauder low dash bw

The 1964 GTO sold 32,450 units after it exploded onto the scene in fall of 1963. Instead of a big engine in a full size car, the GTO big engine in an lighter intermediate created the first super car, later called 'muscle cars'. The GTO didn't join the top engines to the most expensive body-style. Pontiac performance was now affordable to many more people in the medium priced Tempest body-style. The full size performers like the Impala SS, Grand Prix, Galaxie, Fury and Marauder lost sales to the GTO and its copycats that sprung up as the mid sixties unfolded.

After 1965 the Marauder name was dropped, but the same basic car returned in 1966 named S-55 and packing a 428 engine. The S-55 had been around since 1962, but was phased out for the 1964 and 1965 model years when the Marauder name was the preferred performance moniker. The Marauder name resurfaced for 1969 and 1970 at a time when the full size performance market wasn't selling, causing the Marauder to get dropped again. In 2003 and 2004 the Marauder was revived as a high performance package one last time. This car was capable of muscle car performance on a par with the best examples of the 1960s. Sadly, Mercury has been axed by Ford and there will be no opportunity for the Marauder to rise again in the future.


MOTOR TREND tested a four door 1964 Mercury Montclair Marauder in their Oct 1963 issue. This car came with the 2 barrel 390 and single exhaust. The test car wasn't the base 250 HP model, but the 266 HP version which came standard with an automatic transmission. Weighing in at 4,390 pounds curb, the car was a full 4,800 pounds laden with testers and equipment. The Marauder managed 0-60 in 12.8 seconds, 17.6 at 71.5 MPH in the quarter and a top end of 107 MPH. Compare that to the GTO and you can see why the sales of the Marauder were modest.

The 1964 Park Lane standard engine packed way more punch. It used a 390 four barrel with dual exhaust rated at 300 HP. A non Marauder Park Lane four door CAR LIFE test run in June 1964 produced better times than the MOTOR TREND car. Both test cars had the 8x14 tires, 3.00:1 axle and three speed automatics. At 4,360 pounds curb weight the Park Lane was 30 pounds lighter than the MOTOR TREND car and wound up hauling 4,660 pounds for the test, which is 140 lighter than the MT test weight. The CAR LIFE test netted 0-60 in 9.3 and the quarter in 16.9 at 83 MPH. The extra horsepower bumped top speed up 9 more MPH to 116 MPH.

Ironically this test occurred in the CAR LIFE issue that features a GTO on the cover. The test GTO stormed to 60 in 6.6 seconds cut a quarter in 14.8 at 99 and topped out at 135 MPH. The test weight was 3,800, it had a four speed, 3.23 axle and 48 more rated horsepower out of an engine sporting one less cubic inch. That tells the story of why sixties intermediate sized muscle cars overshadowed the full size performance cars. The 390 Marauders were quick cars, but the GTO was crazy fast for the times.

Even the GTO would have to watch out for the ultimate Marauder: the 427 with two four barrel carburetors. This engine generates 425 HP. The 1963 1/2 S-55 Marauder 427 4 speed as tested by Tom McCahill in MECHANIX ILLUSTRATED May 1963 was good for at least 150 MPH top speed even with a 4.11 rear axle instead of the 3.00 found on the 390 Marauders. The axle ratio is marginally affected by the 15 inch wheels on this test car, but it's still incredible how fast this car could go with such a steep axle. 0 to 60 came up in 7.1 seconds in spite of major tire spin caused by the open rear end.

64 marauderside sun bw

Our feature car was built on Thursday April 9, 1964 in the St. Louis assembly plant and shipped to the Memphis DSO area. Dick Clippard, Inc was the car dealership in Jackson, Tennessee that sold the car on April 15, 1964. An advertisement in the back of the 1963 Union University yearbook placed by Dick Clippard Lincoln Mercury gives us the old format phone number 2-9676 and tells us that the dealership was at 106 Poplar. The dealership is gone now.

The salesman's signature looks like it says Terry Smith. Mr. Smith sold the car to Homer Gilliland who lived in nearby Dyersburg, TN which is north of Memphis. Homer lived in Dyersburg for the entire 25 years that he owned the car, and it remained in town for several years following the change of ownership in 1989.

64 marauder build sheet

The build sheet above has the significant digits of the VIN and the key codes removed: otherwise it is complete except for the spring marks that smudge out some bits of information.

Patent Plate Code 63F means that this is a two door Park Lane fastback. If the 63 was followed by a "C" it would have meant it had bucket seats. This particular car has a split bench seat.

Color Code 5 precedes the paint codes and is an unknown code. Paint 'n' reveals the lower body color of the car, coded as "J" which stands for Carnival Red. Paint "T" is the color of the top. "A" is Onyx, a fancy sales name for 'black'. The roof is painted black, and is not a vinyl top.

Trim "95" indicates Ostrich Vinyl and Crush Vinyl in the color combination of red and red. The seat is a bench seat with biscuit patterning. Type Order "1" is an unknown code.

Date 09D (it is a bit obliterated by the springs) means "09" for the day, and "D" for the month which is April.

Region District "26" means Memphis, TN. Car Line "M", Codes for Springs, Driveshaft etc haven't been deciphered yet.

Axle code" J 1" is hard to ascertain. The code '1' means a 3.00:1 conventional axle. A letter means that you have Equa-lock differential which is the Mercury name for Positraction. The equivalent letter for a 3.00:1 Posi is 'A'. The highest listed letter code is an 'I" which is the 4.11:1, so the "J" is a bit of a mystery.

Engine Code "Z" means this car has a 390 4 barrel engine. Transmission Code "4" indicates Automatic. Hopefully a Mercury expert out there can decipher the remainder of the unknown codes.

64 marauder owner plan

The owner's card above has the significant digits removed from the VIN. Homer no longer lives at the address on the card. The warranty number 4Z67Z breaks down to mean '4' for 1964, 'Z' for the St. Louis assembly plant, '67' indicates a Park Lane 2 door hardtop and the final 'Z' means the car has a 390 4 barrel. You might notice that the warranty card misspells 'Marauder'!

64 marauder owner id card

64 marauder owner id card p2.

Above are the two sides of the plastic credit card sized Mercury owner Identification Card. The significant portion of the VIN has been removed, otherwise the card is complete. Many of the codes found in the build sheet are repeated in this card and Owner Plan.

Homer likely received his Marauder with only token miles on it. He bought the car a mere 6 days after it was built. Shipping the car and dealer prep would have eaten into a few of those days, leaving no time for the car to serve as a demo. Bearing this in mind, it's interesting to note that Homer brought his car in for warranty service just two months after buying it. He had already logged his first 6,000 mile service interval on the car. Homer was a precise man. The odometer read 6,010 miles when he brought it to Union L + M Inc for service on June 24, 1964. The page from the owner's manual is reproduced below.

Union L + M likely stands for Union City Ford Lincoln Mercury, Inc. which still exists today on Highway 51 on the outskirts of Union City. Union City is the next large town 36 miles north of Dyersburg on the highway.

64 marauder owners warranty

The later warranty pages are intact, but blank, meaning that Homer must have brought his Marauder to independent service stations or done the work himself. The next time we have any information on the car is at the end of the sixties in Dyersburg. Homer replaced his tires with Atlas whitewall tires on May 14, 1969. Atlas tires were considered good tires at the time. He upgraded the Marauder by putting 8.25 x 14s on the car, larger than the factory 8.00 inch tires. The Esso station on 116 North Main Street where he bought them is no longer there.

64 marauder tire warranty

64 marauder tire warranty 2

Not much is known about the car during Homer's ownership, but it's safe to infer that the car was used at some point to pull a trailer. There is a flip up cover on the left side of the rear edge chrome to the left of the fuel filler door with a connector for auxiliary trailer lights. By the 1980s Homer had become too old to drive. His insurance papers for 1984 indicate "vehicle not on road". Below is his last registration paper for the car in 1986. The Marauder was licensed, but the license number along with portions of registry numbers; VIN, address etc are removed for confidentiality reasons. Despite being a rare car and in the hands of the first and only owner the car was sold by family members as a used car. At this time the car wasn't recognized as a one owner collector car, but just a nice relic from a long lost era.

64 marauder insurance 1986

Homer's daughter sold the car to the present owner who has now owned the car almost as long as Homer did. 64 marauder bonneville

Below is the bill of sale from Dec 27, 1989 with personal information removed. The car was a bargain at $500.00.

64 marauder sold 89

The mileage at time of the sale is a mere 97,326 miles which raises the question of whether the car had already been around the dial once prior. The current owner thinks the car had only gone 97,000 miles at this point. The interior at the time was in good shape, with almost no tears in the seats. Despite how enormous and heavy the doors were, they still shut properly without hinge sag. The paint was faded but decent. All mechanicals were in good condition.

The car was off the road most of the 1980s, suggesting that the last few years of the 1970s would have seen minimal use, as Homer would have reached retirement by then. This could account for lower than average mileage, which usually runs 10,000 to 12,000 miles per year for the typical employed driver.

Driving in downtown Dyersburg, the new owner encountered a very agitated old man. Homer had spotted the Marauder and exclaimed,

"That's my car! What are you doing in my car?"

Homer had trouble remembering that his daughter had sold his car a year earlier. The new owner tried to appease him and explain the situation.

64 marauder ignition switch

Since then the car has had few mishaps. A drunk driver hit the car and the driver's door had to be replaced. The door came complete with the data tag from the donor car which is presumably crushed by now. The pertinent information for those of you out there who may be curious was as follows: Body 63A, Color FM, Trim 70, Date 23O, DSO 54, Axle 1, Trans 4, 4Z47Y539614.

A repair to the driver's rear quarter left a visible seam. A break and enter through the passenger vent window stripped the regulator knob that winds it in or out. The main issue on this car developed during a relocation to California. The intense sun checked the paint, particularly on the roof which allowed some rust to develop. At 150,000 miles the engine was rebuilt.

64 marauder glove box

A speeding ticket in 1994 raised the question of the speedometer accuracy. Normally old 1960s cars have speedometers that read high, but the Marauder was reading low.

64 marauder speedo check

The speedometer was adjusted, but apparently too much. It's also possible that the tires on the car at the time were taller than subsequent replacement tires. See the article in the GAS LOGS subsection of the TRAVEL section in this site. There is an article discussing new low profile tires on older cars and how the smaller diameter affects things. In the same section you can see the summary of the gas logs for this Marauder, too.

At the end of 1995, Dec 18th the Marauder was outfitted with new tires, sized P215R75-14. After that set wore out the car was stuck with 195 sized radials for several years in the 2000s before getting 225s finally installed in 2005. Driving through radar display zones and comparing the odometer to posted mile markers suggest the speedometer is now reading about 10% high even with the bigger tires.

The car's mileage was 125,342 at the time of the 1995 tire change, days away from exactly six years of second ownership. The car had logged 28,000 miles at this point, an average of 4,666 miles per year. Four years later on Jan 8, 2000 the mileage had reached 168,000 miles. The car was now averaging 10,750 miles a year.

A few months and a mini road trip later, the radiator gave up the ghost at 171,315 miles. The original three core radiator was rebuilt on Feb 16, 2000 but the original steel overflow tank that sits above the radiator wasn't re- used and was left out of the system.

The Marauder had hit 180,000 miles by Jan 12, 2001 and 187,000 by Apr 3, 2002. Aside from new batteries, tires and exhaust the car had needed little work done. In June, 2002 it was time to replace the rear springs. A specialty spring shop built new rear leaf springs that mimicked the originals exactly. The Marauder was only driven 1,000 miles that year, registering 181,000 miles by April, 2003. The rebuilt radiator was still doing fine when it was flushed out at 191,000 miles.

64 marauder bonneville rear

By fall of 2004 the mileage stood at 198,558. The Marauder had now travelled over 100,000 miles since being bought from Homer 15 years earlier. In the winter of 2005 a big push was made to address all the little details that needed tending. The can style power steering unit uses a bolt to hold the flat lid snug which made for some repeat visits to a garage to get it to seal properly without over tightening it and warping it. A windshield wiper switch was replaced, as well as a ball joint. The small tires were replaced with 225 radials that approximate the factory diameter tires. In June, 2005 the odometer rolled back to zero as the car hit the 200,000 mark.

After several years of city use, the Marauder was finally going to get another road trip. In preparation, brakes were done as well as a thorough tune-up, new belts, wiper blades and hoses, flush and fill etc. A rear axle seal that leaked onto brake pads was dealt with. One front wheel bearing was replaced. The rear brake light switch and some bulbs needed replacement, as well as the voltage regulator. The time for the trip came before the shocks could be changed, but otherwise the car was in tip top shape.

On the trip complete fill ups of gasoline sometimes caused a slight leak at the top of the gas tank on the filler neck seam. Otherwise 3,000 miles into the trip the car had started every time and drove wonderfully. The rate of coolant loss was a bit annoying. The Marauder no longer had the extra overflow tank above the radiator, allowing excess coolant to vent out of the radiator whenever the pressure exceeded the cap limits. Changing the radiator cap to a brand new one at 203,308 miles didn't stem the flow. To be fair, this is a car over 40 years old being driven all day long on Interstates in extremely hot weather. The no lead gasoline and especially the ethanol laced gasoline in the Midwest probably increased the running temperatures as well.

A former heavy equipment diesel mechanic servicing long haul truckers at rest stops enters the story at 203,847 miles. He saw how much coolant was being added to the radiator and was certain that a new clutch fan and a thermostat trick would solve the problem. The clutch fan was in dire need of replacement as the fan was visibly wobbling at idle. The thermostat trick entailed taking out the thermostat, gutting it and putting the framework back in place. This would allow much faster water flow through the radiator, since the thermostat now allowed the coolant to pump freely where formerly it was obstructed by the mechanisms inside.

Theoretically this trick would cause more frequent coolant circulation through the radiator and lower temperatures. In practice, the radiator continued to puke out coolant at the same rate. Circulating coolant TOO quickly through the radiator results in not enough time for the coolant to throw off heat as it travels through the radiator. Come winter, the car will take longer to heat up with this setup, which provides no heat relief anyways. In the end, a regular factory issue thermostat is the best system.

On the highway, the Marauder was plagued with wind weave at high speeds because of the worn shocks. At moderate cruising speeds it was a smooth one finger driver. No modern car provides even close to the amount of room you find inside this car. The car is long, low and sleek looking, but inside the front seat area is cavernous with the roof miles above your head, the passenger door literally unreachable if you are belted in. The windshield glass curves around the sides of the car giving a 'cinemascope' type view of the countryside. The 390 has tons of torque and good power, yet is very smooth and quiet. The ride is soft and enjoyable, except if you want to do some fast cornering in which case it's a bit too soft.

The Marauder is starting to show some age, with some rips in the driver's seat, slop in the transmission selector and other various frequently used controls. The trunk lock jammed because the lock cylinder has some play in it, the windshield wiper switch worked intermittently at best until replaced. But you receive a solid, reassuring feel when you are floating along in this two ton cruiser.

64 marauder bonneville side




Last Updated ( Thursday, 09 July 2015 09:38 )