Sales of the 2003 Mercury Marauder are off to a fast start, as more than 5,200 vehicles were sold to customers and dealers prior to the first vehicle being delivered to showrooms. July 1 marked the official first day of sales for the car, but Mercury says the excitement started with the unveiling of the Marauder concept car in 1998."We knew the Marauder was something special, but even we were surprised by the reception it's received from customers," said Philip Smoker, Marauder brand manager for Mercury. "The new Marauder is a true four-door muscle car - a black shark in a pool of minnows. It is, in every way, a worthy successor to the legendary Marauders of the 1960s."The 2003 Mercury Marauder is available at Mercury dealers nationwide at a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of $34,495. The only options available on Marauder are a trunk-mounted six-disc CD changer ($350) and a trunk organizer ($200). A series of 30-minute special programs on the Speed Channel introduced consumers to Marauder, prompting more than 85,000 visits to www.mercuryvehicles.com for more information.All Marauders are painted black with blacked-out trim around the headlights, bumpers, windows and taillights, and an all-black interior. Additional exterior colors will be available in the near future.Mercury says occupant safety was key to Marauder's development, as well, including side-impact airbags and the Personal Safety System. The Personal Safety System incorporates dual-stage front airbags that vary deployment speed based on the severity of an impact, sensors to determine if front-seat passengers are wearing seat belts, a driver's-seat position sensor and seat-belt pretensioners with load-limiting retractors. Also, Marauder is designed to make it easy to install a child safety-seat in the rear seats with the standard equipment LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system. And Securilock prevents the vehicle from being started unless a key containing an encoded computer chip is inserted into the ignition.