Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Monterey Cruiser!

I was way out on the North Fork of Long Island shopping for something BBQ related when I saw this car pull into the lot. Take as many spaces as you want partner!
This is a 1955 Mercury Monterey in Tuxedo Black. Incidentally the colors offered by Mercury in '55 are some of the most beautiful in automotive history. Persimmon, Lime, Tropic Blue; check these out!

Just look at the stage presence this thing has.
The Monterey was introduced in 1952 as the top of the line offering from Mercury, and remained that way for 3 years. In '55 the Montclair was the name given to the top trim level while Monterey was relegated to mid-tier status. Even the lowest end Custom had plenty of class though. 
The '52-'54 look wasn't terribly different from this ride except that the headlights extended out from the fenders as opposed to being recessed, and the grill was a touch simplified though the same in overall shape. The biggest difference was the flat windshield of the older cars as the wrap-around was unveiled in 1955.
This thing is immaculate at first glance! Even the jewelry remains pit-free and fresh. Dig that stylized hood ornament heralding the Jet Age.
These headlights look more than a little like those of the Packard Caribbean of the same year. In fact several major styling cues are found on both cars that I suppose are a 1950s coincidence.
When you look a little closer you start to see that things are repaired in the driveway as the need arises. The bumpers are spray painted a shiny silver and there are screws holding some of the trim in place. However, if this is a daily driver (which it looks like it is) then how can you possibly fault the owner for patching it up however he wants? He's the one with the '55 Merc not you!
I saw this guy run into the shop to grab some stuff, leaving the windows down. He gave me enthusiastic permission when I asked if he minded that I snap a bunch of pics. Thanks dude!
This design only lasted for 2 years; 1955 and '56. In '57 the dimensions grew a great deal and the Monterey gained a small ocean in chrome. This era suits me just fine with enough glamour to know it's a higher-end car but not in gaudy amounts.
A new motor was introduced this year only to be replaced a year later! The 292 V8 Y-block engine used in the Thunderbird powers this beast. The years previous had a Flathead and the 5.1 Liter 312 V8 took over starting in '56.
Inside is much like the outside; striking and beautiful with only slight deviations from perfection to be found. He added a stereo but thankfully left the original tube powered Bendix intact. Gauges were added below the dash which have to be more reliable than the ancient ones in the speedo cluster. There are more options on display here too; the clock is one, as is the Merc-O-Matic 3 speed transmission. The latter brought with it an increase in horsepower when chosen. This is very similar to the Ford-O-Matic transmission but that was only a 2 speed.
The fuzzy dice and Confederate flag have to go!
Look at the ornate shape of these rear bumpers! This is car design as architecture.
MERCURY spelled out in the bumper center is awesome. Those exhaust tips are period correct aftermarket glitz.
Stuffed animals and fuzzy dice bum me out to an irrational degree, but try to go to a car show without drowning in both. Stuffed animals that get tied up to the fronts of garbage and delivery trucks amuse me to no end, but toss one on the dash and I'm somehow triggered.
That's the most honest taillight lens you're likely to see. 61 years of use has left it cracked and crazed but it's still doing the job. Those reverse lights are worth noting too as they are some of the first available. These might automatically light up but earlier models (and possibly these too) only lit when the headlights were on already. Reverse lights aren't required to pass NYS inspection if your car is from 1968 or older. My '63 Beetle had none from the factory!
This was the perfect sort of day to show off a shiny black car.
The Monterey continued without pause through the 1974 model year. Unfortunately at the end it was a bloated colossus that looked like a slightly larger LTD. It was the only Mercury model to be built in every year of the '60s.
Wide white walls and perfect Mercury hubcaps are doing their part to class up the joint. Ads of the day bragged about the silent driving experience of every Mercury.
Well there we have it; a well loved and well used example of a classic car that's not afraid to go to the store to pick up supplies. I love the idea of the owner living life out on the end of Long Island driving a '55 Merc around! These cars really are simple and easy to maintain. If you don't mind checking fluids, greasing up the chassis (easier than it sounds), changing filters, and driving at a measured pace you can certainly use this as your main transportation. Driving a classic daily is the best thing you can do for it as sitting dormant lets things seize up, dry out, and crack.
Happy motoring, Long Island Mercury Guy!

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