OLD CARS: Monterey was the preferred Mercury in 1959

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Mercury confronted an id disaster within the late Fifties. Since its launch in late 1938, Mercury’s job had been straight-forward: to supply loyal Ford house owners with a reasonably dearer car to step as much as with out having to depart the Ford Motor Firm. Mercury fulfilled that operate capably, however its mission was disrupted in 1955.

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In that yr, of the paradigms that the Detroit-based car corporations had operated beneath for the earlier 30 years had been upended. Comparatively cheap vehicles like Chevrolet and Plymouth began to function V8 energy, in addition to automated transmissions and associated facilities. Costly manufacturers corresponding to Buick grew to become extra standard, principally as a result of common family incomes had been rising at a speedy clip, making Buicks and related manufacturers extra attainable.

That positioned mid-priced manufacturers corresponding to Mercury, Dodge and DeSoto, and Pontiac and Oldsmobile right into a quandary. All 5 had historically been geared up with V8 or straight-eight engines, and featured technological enhancements as they had been made obtainable – for a sure worth. However now those self same options had been being supplied within the lower-priced manufacturers. And to make issues worse, a wealthier shopper base was demanding extra luxurious and had been gravitating to vehicles that had at all times been upscale.

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In an era when fins still dominated the Detroit automobile industry, the tail lights for the 1959 Mercury Monterey were incredibly distinctive. Peter Epp photo
In an period when fins nonetheless dominated the Detroit car business, the tail lights for the 1959 Mercury Monterey had been extremely distinctive. Peter Epp picture jpg, CA

Gross sales for all 5 mid-priced manufacturers had been principally stagnant or declining through the Fifties. DeSoto wouldn’t survive the last decade, whereas Pontiac was placed on discover by Common Motors.

Mercury’s issues had been additional sophisticated when Ford introduced the launch of a very new car for 1958. The brand new Edsel division would function 4 traces: the 2 cheap Edsels had been based mostly on the Ford; the 2 dearer fashions on Mercury.

However extra importantly, Edsel was shifting into the spot historically occupied by Mercury, leaving Mercury to compete in opposition to dearer manufacturers, corresponding to Buick and DeSoto, and maybe even Chrysler – and improbably, the dearer Edsel fashions.

All of this was occurring in opposition to the backdrop of the 1958 recession, the primary main financial downturn to hit the US and Canada because the finish of the Second World Conflict. The recession triggered Detroit no finish of heartbreak, as nearly ever automaker suffered a big gross sales stoop. That stoop was particularly felt by the mid-priced manufacturers.

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If there was any consolation for Mercury, it was that the brand new Edsel division wasn’t assembly Ford’s expectations. Recessionary forces, controversial styling, plus some high quality points, conspired to sink Edsel gross sales. Inside two years, firm brass introduced that Edsel was being discontinued.

The dashboard and instrument panel of the 1959 Monterey was typical for that era – futuristic and a tad complicated looking. Peter Epp photo
The dashboard and instrument panel of the 1959 Monterey was typical for that period – futuristic and a tad sophisticated wanting. Peter Epp picture jpeg, CA

It may be argued that Mercury was solely saved from its personal cancellation as a result of the axe fell on Edsel. Definitely, Ford had invested much more into the brand new Edsel line of cars than that they had in refreshing Mercury. However Mercury offered extra vehicles than Edsel for 1958, and that was what mattered most. It was additionally a better-established nameplate.

Certainly, Mercury offered 133,271 vehicles for 1958, or lower than half of what it had offered in 1950. However Edsel’s gross sales had been even decrease. For 1959, Mercury gross sales climbed barely to 150,030.

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For that mannequin yr, the division rolled out three automobile traces – the entry-level Monterey, the Montclair and the Park Lane.

On the Previous Autos automobile present in Bothwell in August, a handsome-looking 1959 Monterey Cruiser, a two-door hardtop, was on show. Though Mercury offered nearly 90,000 Monterey vehicles (or properly over half of its manufacturing), such vehicles are comparatively uncommon at present.

Monterey and the more-expensive Montclair shared the identical platform – a 126-inch wheelbase. Monterey was geared up with the 312-cubic-inch V8, with an optionally available MEL 383 V8 with a two-barrel carb or a four-barrel carb. The MEL designation stood for Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln.

Monterey was an unusual-looking automobile, however then once more, nearly the entire vehicles produced by the Detroit corporations for 1959 had been dramatically totally different wanting than that they had been in earlier years. Nonetheless, within the case of the Mercury vehicles, the distinction from the 1958 fashions wasn’t as nice as they had been for GM vehicles.

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The wraparound windshield featured on the 1959 Mercury Monterey resembled the dramatic-looking windshield offered on the noteworthy 1957 and 1959 Turnpike Cruiser, but without the Cruiser’s unusual air ventilation ‘space pods’. Peter Epp photo
The wraparound windshield featured on the 1959 Mercury Monterey resembled the dramatic-looking windshield supplied on the noteworthy 1957 and 1959 Turnpike Cruiser, however with out the Cruiser’s uncommon air air flow ‘house pods’. Peter Epp picture jpg, CA

Monterey, Montclair and Park Lane took their styling cues principally from the Turnpike Cruiser, which had been constructed for 1957 and 1958 and which contained nearly the entire expertise the Ford Motor Firm might muster. The Turnpike Cruiser was the costliest Mercury, and had been championed by a Ford govt named Jack Reith. In hindsight, the Turnpike Cruiser was possible the corporate’s problem in opposition to Buick, which for a lot of the last decade had been the third hottest automobile in North America, regardless of its hefty price.

When gross sales for the Turnpike Cruiser failed to fulfill Ford’s expectations (23,269 vehicles had been offered over the 2 mannequin years), Reith left the corporate. However its legacy lived on within the Park Lane (which with a 128-inch wheelbase was the longest Mercury ever constructed) and the inexpensive Monterey and Montclair.

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Styling cues from the Turnpike Cruiser had been additionally obvious. The concave aspect physique sculpturing was prolonged nearly to the entrance fenders, stopping slightly below the brand new wraparound window’s submit. That wraparound windshield was bigger and curved upward. Glass space dimension of the again window was additionally elevated. The backlights on four-door and two-door hardtop fashions curved upwards. 4-door and two-door sedans had a novel roof line and a big wraparound rear window

Monterey supplied a full variation of physique kinds – a convertible, a four-door sedan, a four-door hardtop, a two-door sedan, a two-door hardtop, in addition to two kinds of station wagons: a two-door and a four-door. Each had been referred to as Commuter.

As anticipated, the costliest Monterey you would purchase in 1959 was the convertible. It was priced at simply over $3,100. They constructed and offered 4,428 items.

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The four-door hardtop was the second-most costly Monterey. It was priced at slightly below $3,000, with 11,355 had been constructed.

Inexpensive was the four-door sedan, which retailed for $2,832. Mercury offered 43,570 copies. In different phrases, nearly half of the entire Monterey vehicles offered for that yr had been four-door sedans. Extra exactly, that determine represents roughly 30 per cent of all Mercury manufacturing for 1959.

Much less standard had been the two-door fashions. Mercury offered 17,222 Monterey vehicles that had been two-door hardtops (as seen on the Previous Autos automobile present in August). They had been priced at $2,854. The 2-door sedan wasn’t as standard; priced at simply $2,788, Mercury offered lower than 12,000 items.

Most of Mercury’s production for 1959 was wrapped up in its Monterey line of cars. Almost 90,000 Monterey cars were built for that model year. Peter Epp photo
Most of Mercury’s manufacturing for 1959 was wrapped up in its Monterey line of vehicles. Virtually 90,000 Monterey vehicles had been constructed for that mannequin yr. Peter Epp picture jpg, CA

All of those costs had been with out choices, and the obtainable choices had been in depth. They included every little thing from air con ($385) to twin exhaust ($25.80). Energy brakes had been $34.55, whereas energy steering was $83.50. Need energy home windows? They might price you $84.50.

A well-optioned Mercury Monterey from 1959 might simply price the client no less than $3,500. However that was inexpensive the costliest Mercury for that mannequin yr. The four-door Park Lane hardtop was priced at $4,031. They’re exceedingly uncommon to search out, as solely 7,206 had been constructed. The truth is, solely 12,500 Park Lane vehicles had been constructed for your entire mannequin yr. The massive Park Lane stays a little bit of a unicorn, because it was by no means once more made obtainable on a 128-inch wheelbase.

The Monterey nameplate would proceed for some years. It was constructed over a 22-year interval, with manufacturing ending in 1974.

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