First, GM pulled the plug on Saturn. Now, Ford has ended Mercury. Does this planetary demise foretell doom for Detroit?

First, General Motors Co. pulled the plug on Saturn. Now, Ford Motor Co. has announced the end of its once-popular Mercury brand. Does this planetary demise foretell some sort of future doom for Detroit? Probably not.

Ford just plans to focus its marketing efforts on its namesake brand and its upscale Lincoln nameplate. The last Mercury will roll off the assembly line and into history later this year.

Mercury was the brainchild of Edsel Ford (Henry’s only child and a highly regarded auto designer). It was created in the late 1930s as a premium offering to Ford’s V-8 sedan and was an important source of incremental sales for many decades.

In October 1938, the first Mercury 8 sedan was unveiled (check out www.mercuryarchive.com to find out more details). Today, however, Mercury’s customer profile, pricing and margins are almost identical to Ford. Since sales peaked in 1978, Mercury’s market share has steadily declined, so Ford brass decided that it’s time to pull the plug.

I’m not surprised by the demise of Mercury. It’s something that has been rumored for a long time. There are only four vehicles currently in the Mercury lineup-the Grand Marquis sedan is assembled in St. Thomas, ON; the Mariner SUV is built in Claycomo, MO; the Milan sedan is assembled in Hermosillo, Mexico; and the Mountaineer SUV is made in Louisville, KY.

But, I took the news a little personally, because the first automobile that I owned was a used Mercury Capri (a sporty two-door car that was built by Ford in Germany). For some reason, I seem to have a knack for owning cars that have been discontinued (my first two new vehicles were an Oldsmobile and a Pontiac). In addition, my late uncle and aunt owned several Mercury Grand Marquis sedans.

Did anyone else out there ever own a Mercury? Are there other car brands that you think should go the way of Mercury, Saturn, Plymouth and Pontiac?