For a while in the 1970s, we were a Mercury family: Mercury Comet to be exact. The first car of my father's that I can remember was some sort of 1950s Plymouth, very rounded -- and that's just about all I can remember about it. The first car of my mother's I remember was what I believe actually was her first car: A 1950s Willis.
I remember that one much better than the Plymouth since my father drove his to work while our mother dragged us everywhere in the WIllis. In particular I can recall that the Willis had a manual choke, a radio with tubes that took forever to warm up and never really worked right, and that when the rear floor fell out, my uncle replaced it with some sort of grate, and we could watch the road under the car as we rode along in the back seat.
When the Plymouth keeled over, my father bought our first Mercury Comet. It was an early 60s model, a white coupe with pseudo tail-fins, and he had aftermarket seat-belts installed, making it our first car with them. (Not that we ever used them). Then, when the Willis became a Willisn't, my mother got a late 60s or early 70s Comet coupe as well.
I don't remember too much negative about my father's Comet (and again, it was not the one we kids rode in much), but my mother's was a constant source of repair bills. We bought it at about the time Detroit was forgetting how to make cars in general, and three-on-the-tree cars in particular. They would still sell you one, of course, but Ford seemed to have no real idea how to build a clutch or manual transmission, and the dealer certainly had no idea how to fix one. Even leaving aside the transmission, the car had a host of issues like the radiator heat sensor that left us stranded on US-301 somewhere between here and Florida, and the cigarette lighter that almost set the car on fire despite the fact that nobody smoked. Add to that the whole "coupe" concept when trying to run a car pool, and admittedly, the unsightly mess of cables I added trying to compensate for the lack of a radio by jury-rigging a cassette player didn't help matters.
At some point my parents completely lost faith in the dealer (I don't think it was Stivers), and we started taking the cars to Bob Andrews on Harden Street, but in the end it was Mercury that converted us to a Toyota family.
Early this summer, Ford lost faith in Mercury as well, and announced that the brand would be phased out by the end of 2010. Interestingly, by then, Stivers had already lost the concession. This 2009 year end story from The State is a little vague on exactly what happened, but says that the Lincoln-Mercury concession was moving from Stivers to Classic Ford. However the article also says that the Stivers location would remain open, selling sell Mitsubishis and Subarus and was looking to add another brand as well. Apparently that didn't work out, and as of late September the mercury was falling and the whole corner lot was up for sale.
UPDATE 2 July 2011 -- Here are some night shots of the place from 24 October 2010: