The 2003 Mercury Marauder, a black paint, chrome exhaust, more tightly suspended and hotted-up version of the full-size Grand Marquis ‘Florida retiree’ luxury sedan, notched up over 5,200 sales to customers and dealers before the first vehicle reached a showroom, Ford claimed yesterday, the official first day of sales for the car.

“We knew the Marauder was something special, but even we were surprised by the reception it’s received from customers,” said Mercury’s Marauder brand manager Philip Smoker.

A series of 30-minute special programs on the Speed Channel introduced consumers to the Marauder, prompting over 85,000 visits to the division’s website.