I'm Sorry...What?: Mercury Villager Nautica Edition
There are few vehicles out there in the world that require a relatively lengthy explanation to justify their existence in the world. This is one of them. This is the Mercury Villager Nautica Edition. The early 1990s were filled with entry-level luxury brands making deals with outside brands to produce more desirable vehicles. Vehicles like the Eddie Bauer Fords and the L.L. Bean Subarus were the result of these deals. Last week, I discussed Isuzu and their absolutely hilarious VehiCROSS Ironman Edition. This week, I’ve chosen to discuss this Japanese-engineered, American luxury minivan.
In 1987, Ford and Nissan teamed up to bring a minivan to market. Nissan’s version would become the Quest, while Ford decided that Mercury was going to receive the van, badged as the Villager, because Ford was designing their own minivan, the Windstar. The vans went on sale for the 1992 model year with almost no differences between the Quest and Villager except for the grilles. Villagers could be optioned with the light-up grille from the Mercury Sable of similar model years. I found this particularly interesting, because only recently, have luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz and Lincoln gotten back into lighting up their emblems, while Mercury was doing it in the early 90s.
Power for this intriguing people mover came from Nissan’s VG30E V6 and matching four-speed automatic, both of which were being used in the Nissan Maxima at the time. This 151-horsepower engine gave the Villager a 0-60 time of 11.7 seconds. Nearly a full second slower than a Chrysler Town and Country of the same era.
The exterior of the Villager Nautica featured a nice two tone paint and white painted wheels. A tasteful yellow pinstripe ran the entire length of the van. The Nautica logo was proudly displayed on the trunk in a similar yellow. The interior of the Villager featured two-tone blue and gray leather seats with the Nautica logo sewn in for additional luxuriousness. The Nautica Edition could only be had with second row captain’s chairs, which adds to the overall luxurious feel of the interior, however, all first-gen Villager’s only came with three doors, so passengers could only enter from the curbside of the vehicle.
Mercury managed to move over 180,000 Villagers during the vehicle’s first generation. Nautica Edition numbers remain unknown.
While Nautica is still around selling clothes, Mercury is nothing more than dust and echoes, as with most of the vehicles that I write about. Still, it’s interesting to see a company that went to the length of selling matching luggage with their vehicles, when’s the last time your Mercedes-Benz dealer gave you luggage with your car, huh?
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on the perspective, the Mercury Villager Nautica Edition did not appear on the second generation of Villager minivans. The top-trim level was replaced with the Estate trim level for 1999. As luck would have it though, there is one lonely, and relatively well-kept example of this van for sale. I found it on CarGurus, and it seems like a gem. Go check it out here. For $1,350, I’d say buy it, get the front seats reupholstered, and hide it away, because in ten years time, you might just find yourself with the rarest minivan on the planet. (UPDATE: Someone bought it, my fingers are crossed that we see it at Pebble Beach in ten years.)