wheels

21 October 2014 Last updated
Search

My wheels

Jason Pereira’s 1977 Mercury Grand Marquis

By Imran Malik
Added 17:29 | June 13, 2013
  • Jason is mad about anything with a big engine. His 1977 MGM has a 6.6-litre V8 under the bonnet — yup, that’s big enough.

    Source:Dennis Mallari/ANM
  • Source:Dennis Mallari/ANM
  • Cclassic 1970 Mercury Grand Marquis.

    Source:Dennis Mallari/ANM
  • Source:Dennis Mallari/ANM
  • There aren’t many of these on our roads today — especially not as well kept as this.

    Source:Dennis Mallari/ANM
  • Source:Dennis Mallari/ANM

Jason likes his cars big and with big V8s under the bonnet, so his 1977 Mercury Grand Marquis fits the bill perfectly. He tells Imran Malik all about this classic

You’ve been interested in cars since childhood right?

Yes, since our early years my brothers and 
I have always loved cars. My dad used to 
take us to the motor show and we would 
also frequently visit the local Class Cars 
showroom near our home because it had 
a red Lamborghini Countach, along with a 
1959 Cadillac Deville Convertible. We’d 
sit in them for hours.

As we grew up, we invested in an Alfa 
Romeo 156 with a 2.5-litre V6 and it is our baby to this very day. Nothing beats Alfas when it comes to style.

Yup, they’re classy alright. What was your first car? What do you remember about it?

Profile

Name: Jason Pereira

Job: Pilot, flight instructor

From: Sri Lanka

Wheels: 1977 Mercury Grand Marquis

In the UAE: 28 years

It was a 1982 Pontiac Tempest that I bought pretty cheap from a friend who was leaving Dubai. It ran for years, serving me well, and I’ll never forget the silky-smooth ride and the seemingly unlimited amount of torque the engine threw out. It was such a lovely machine.

Then, my dad brought home a 1981 Toyota Corolla and we tore it to bits in our garage and rebuilt it from the ground up!

Since then, we’ve always been tinkering with cars. We respect cars with performance and style. I can’t stand driving anything with less than six cylinders.

You’ve owned a 1997 Volkswagen Polo, 1999 BMW 320i, 2007 Ford Explorer and a 2008 Ford Focus, but what is your dream car?

Out of all the cars I’ve had, the Fords and the Pontiac were the ones I enjoyed the most. 
But I have two dream cars — a modern and 
a classic. They are the Audi R8 and a 1983 Pontiac Trans Am — it’s the same age as me.

I’m madly in love with American classics. They were tanks and my 1977 Mercury Grand Marquis is no exception. It even dwarfs a Hummer H2.

Cars become a part of your everyday life and even start to seem like a family member. In our case, a very thirsty family member! Thankfully fuel is cheap in the UAE.

These MGMs were known as mid-sized cars back in the day, but by today’s standards, it’s massive! How did you come across it?

I was actually looking for a 1979 Lincoln Continental Mk V, but they were always 
just outside my budget.

I was browsing the internet looking for Continentals stateside when I came across an incorrectly listed Continental that was tagged as a Mercury Marquis and Ford LTD. This was when I learnt that they were all the same car just different in terms of engines, and interior and exterior panelling. I contacted my friend who imports cars from California, and he got it over here for me. I guess it was a lucky break.

Very lucky. It must be such a blast to cruise around in…

It is, and even with an overall length of nearly six metres it isn’t that difficult thanks to the power steering, which is very light and can be steered with just one finger. It is definitely the lightest steering I have ever encountered.

Parking is fun, too. It has a long overhang, both front and rear, and the doors are huge, 
so I have to make sure I have enough space to get out, or I would have to make a Dukes of Hazzard-style entry and exit!

Stick a Dixie horn on it too! Does it have the 400 cubic-inch or 460 V8?

As the car is from California, it was fitted with the 400 cubic-inch (6.6-litre) V8. The 460 (7.5-litre) was available as an optional engine. It’s mated to a three-speed automatic, which moves this tank at a relatively good pace.

It sure is a beauty and I bet it makes you smile when you turn the key…

Just seeing it parked makes me smile. And once that 400 wakes up, the whole car rumbles. I love that sensation!

It’s just had its brakes overhauled and I’ve replaced the fuel pump. The exhaust had corroded through and that required minor welding to fix.

So, mechanically it’s fine — how about dropping it a couple of inches and adding 20in wheels?

Not a chance. I am going to keep it in original condition. It even has the original radio with one eight-track tape that came with it — The Best of John Denver! As for parts, I had some sent over from my friend in Washington but, surprisingly, I was able to source some brakes locally. So far, no issues regarding parts.

We hope it stays that way. What sort 
of reaction does it get when you are out 
and about?

We get stared at a lot, as most people do not know what this land yacht is. But I regularly get people pulling up and trying to get my attention. I was cruising down SZR and a Lamborghini was tailing me for quite a stretch. The driver finally pulled up next to me, smiled and gave me a thumbs up. It was most unexpected from a Lambo owner.

Another time, around JLT, the driver of a BMW M3 pulled up next to me, leaned over and yelled, “Cool car!” I cherish those moments. As Shia LaBeouf says in the Transformers movie, “Oh my god, I love my car.”

So do we! How often do you drive it?

As often as I can. It chugs back the fuel from the 92-litre tank pretty quickly, so I tend to cruise around 80kph. It gulps 19 litres-per-100km and has an average range of 370km.

Would you ever sell it?

That is a hard question. I have been looking for something like this for a long time, so parting will be tough unless someone gives me a briefcase full of money, then I might!