Pete Epple Technical Editor
April 1, 2009
Photos By: Steve Baur

When you think of a car that can routinely blast off mid-10-second quarter-mile times, "daily driver" and "four doors" are usually not the first things that come to mind. But then again, this is not your usual four-door daily driver. Tom Archambault of Cape Coral, Florida, proudly boasts that his '04 Mercury Marauder not only sees daily duty, but runs well into the 10s without breaking a sweat. Not convinced? Keep reading.

Tom, a long-time drag racer, has owned quite the list of muscle Mustangs and fast Fords dating back to the early '70s. Racing a '72 351-powered Maverick from '72-'75 at New England Dragway, the go-fast bug bit him at an early age and it has never gone away. As a retired police officer and an avid Mustang enthusiast, Tom knew two things. First, he always liked the Panther-chassis Fords (Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis), and second, he loves going fast. As if it was made just for him, Mercury seamlessly blended luxury and performance in 2003, releasing the Marauder. Based off the Grand Marquis and powered by a naturally aspirated DOHC, 4.6L, V-8, the Marauder offered the comfort and amenities you expect from Mercury, and the solid foundation for guys like Tom to build dream cars.

Underestimating the capabilities of Tom's Marauder is not difficult. Upon closer inspection, subtle hints give way to the idea that something far nastier lies beneath the skin. Its aggressive stance and Nitto drag radials give a few more clues that Tom's Marauder is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

"I saw the Marauder in the local Lincoln Mercury dealership in 2003," Tom tells us. "It only came in black and I didn't want another black car living here in Florida. When a silver one came out in 2004, I waited until one with the sunroof option showed up and I bought it off the showroom floor."

But Tom realized the stock 4.6 didn't possess the power needed to keep him happy. On the road to the perfect daily driver, Tom spent hours researching parts and combinations trying to find a delicate balance. Once the ball was set in motion, forced induction was the direction Tom knew he had to go in order to achieve the end result he was looking for. While most people in the Marauder community take the Roots-type supercharger road, Tom was looking to be a little different. Having had ProChargers on multiple Mustangs in the past, a P1SC and a set of 4.10 gears would supply the fix.

"I wanted something that I could expand on," Tom adds. "The P1SC was the way to go because I could send it back to ProCharger and have it upgraded when I was ready to go faster."

Once the blower was installed, it was time get the car tuned. When all was said and done, Tom's Marauder produced a tire-shredding 475 hp--at the rear hides. With his new ProCharger breathing extra life into this grocery getter, it was time for Tom to take it down the strip. After bolting on a set of Nitto drag radials, Tom sent his soon-to-be silver bullet down the quarter-mile to the tune of 12.30 at 119 mph.

Wanting more, Tom sent his P1SC back to ProCharger so it could be upgraded to the D1SC that now sits in the engine bay. In order for the still-stock engine to handle the added boost, he enlisted Al Papitto of Boss 330 Racing of Vero Beach, Florida. Wanting to keep an original Marauder engine in the car and minimize downtime, they set out to find a second Marauder mill.

Al gave the aluminum 4.6L the royal treatment, filling the bores with CP pistons, Manley rods, and a forged Cobra crank, while keeping the stock displacement. The stock Four-Valve cylinder heads were updated with Ferrera valves and heavy-duty valvesprings, then installed back on the newly rebuilt short-block. With the compression now at 9.3:1, it was time to pick new camshafts. Al turned to Comp Cams for a set of 0.475-inch lift shafts with a duration of 274 at 0.050. The stock intake manifold was reinstalled along with a set of 60-pound injectors and a DiabloSport MAFia MAF extender. The added lung capacity from the upgraded D1 now exhales though a set of Stainless Works headers and cross-pipe, flowing into a set of 2-inch Flowmaster mufflers.

Once the upgraded powerplant was in place, the rest of the running gear became Tom's center of attention. Finding a transmission capable of handling close to 1,000 hp and yet still tackle the rigors of daily use was going to be a challenge. Darrin Burch of BC Automotive in Danville, Indiana, took Tom's 4R75W four-speed automatic and gave it a complete overhaul. A custom 3,500-stall converter was given the nod along with a B&M trans cooler to keep the temperature under control.

A four-inch Dynatech aluminum driveshaft transfers power to the stock rearend housing. Next, a new Detroit Truetrac differential with 4.10 gears along with a set of 31-spline Moser axles was installed to safely transfer power to the ground. Metco upper and lower control arms were called into action, making sure the rear stays in line under hard acceleration. QA1 shocks and an upgraded sway bar from Addco keep the tires firmly planted to the ground on and off the track.

When it came time to retune the car, Tom brought in Scott Beer of Pompono Beach, Florida, to reprogram the ECM. At the end of the day, the Marauder spun the rollers to an earth-shaking 772 rwhp and 643 lb-ft of torque sans nitrous. With a tune for race fuel, it was time to head back down the quarter-mile. After heating up the Nittos, Tom dropped the hammer when the light turned green and blasted down the strip to an 11.32 at 129 mph. Although happy with his Marauder's newfound legs, there was more left to be uncovered. To get this 4,500-pound monster out of the gate, a 100-shot wet-system from Zex was added for the launch. With the car retuned for an initial hit of giggle gas, Tom headed back to the track. With the tires hot and the converter torqued, Tom let his Marauder fly to the tune of a sick 10.90 at 132 mph. The much-improved 60-foot time of 1.77 was exactly what he was looking for.

In November of 2008, Tom loaded up his Marauder and headed to Commerce, Georgia, for the Southern Super Heavyweight Shootout at Atlanta Dragway. Now with full slicks, he was able to soar down the track to an incredible 10.40 at 135 mph.

"Of all the cars I've had, the Marauder has been the most fun, and the best daily driver of them all," Tom tells us. "The amount of power it puts to the wheels is astounding, yet it maintains its civil driving nature on the street. It's a beautiful, luxury-based ride. I can take the wife to a fine restaurant, or haul the grandkids to various events and yet blast down the quarter-mile in 10 seconds. It doesn't get any better than that." We couldn't agree more.