1954 Mercury Monterey: a car that outperformed the average Ford

1954 Mercury Monterey: a car that outperformed the average Ford

EngineV8Horsepower161 hp at 4400 rpmTorque323 Nm at 2200 rpmWeight1680 Kg, 3704 LbDrive TypeRWD Engine LocationLongitudinal frontTransmission3-speed automatic Merc-o-Matic

Launched in 1952 and lasting seven generations, the Monterey line was a separate series and top model of the Mercury brand. Created by Edsel Ford (son of G. Ford), the brand was the youngest of the Big Three launched before the war. It appeared in 1939 and occupied a niche between the “folk” “Fords” and premium “Lincolns”.

Source: Classic Driver

It all started back in 1937 when Edsel suggested his father develop and produce a new brand of car, average in the class, for middle-class people (between “folk” Ford and the Lincoln, which was positioned as a brand for the very wealthy). It appeared in 1939 and took the golden mean between these two classes of remarkable vehicles. Chrysler and Buick became the main competitors in this segment. It should be noted that the young E. Ford had many fresh ideas, sometimes rejected by Ford. But still, some of the proposals of the son were transformed into real projects which were very effective in terms of commercial success. After-war period Mercury brand vehicles were essentially a complete analog of Ford, with an even more controversial appearance.

The first generation

Source: Fine Art America

One of the biggest breakthroughs of the brand was the Monterey Coupe in the early ’50s. The car was equipped with a 5.7-liter V8 engine with 320 hp and 3-speed automatic transmission. The Monterey Coupe accelerated to 100 km/h in 6.3 seconds, and its maximum speed was 230 km/h. Interestingly, until 1952, the Mercury brand produced only one model, and then without a name. It is noteworthy that other companies in that period offered several series in the middle price range to create the illusion of diversity. And although the differences between the series often came down to the amount of chrome on the body and the level of interior trim, which helped to increase sales. Ford took the same vector and made a general restyling in 1952. By expanding the brand’s lineup to two series – the base Custom and the prestigious Monterey, the “blue oval” achieved the expected diversity. Monterey included a hardtop coupe, 4-door sedan, and convertible. All of these models had a one-piece curved “Mono-pane” windshield and panoramic rear window, resulting in 18% more glass area than early vehicles. Hardtops were new to Mercury, as was the all-metal station wagon. 

1954 Monterey

Source: Flickr

In 1954, Ford finally had its overhead-valve engine, the Y-block V8. Mercury used a 4.2-liter version with a five-bearing crankshaft and a standard 4-barrel carburetor. With the same volume as the Flathead V8 255, its power was 161 hp – 36 hp more. Changes to the design included knurled tail lights built into the rear fenders, a “toothy” section of the front bumper between the bullets, and additional chrome moldings on the sills. The instrument panel became rectangular, with a horizontal speedometer, and the toggle switches were located in front of it. A novelty for the lineup was a 2-door hardtop with a tinted perspex roof front. The glass roof was previously used on the Ford X-100 and Lincoln XL-500 concepts and in 1954 also on the production Ford Crestline Skyliner. It was possible to see the sky, the lights of a big city, and hanging traffic lights at intersections from the inside of the car. The problem was only in the sun rays, which created a greenhouse effect in the cockpit. The optional air conditioner helped to eliminate it, but it was still too expensive and bulky. Available in yellow or mint green with a white or dark green roof and yellow or dark green interior trim, the Mercury Sun Valley cost $130 more than a regular hardtop and only $28 less than a convertible. Its sales amounted to 9761 units, and in total, in 1954, 259305 Mercury cars were produced.

Did you know?

Rita Moreno sitting on her 1954 Monterey 

Source: Cars & Motorbikes Stars of the Golden era

The 1954 model was a real movie star and a favorite of Hollywood. She has been featured in iconic films such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Gangster Story (1960), The Spy with My Face (1965), Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Kool Place (2011), and many more. And yet, the most well-known owner of the 1954 model was the famous actress and singer of Puerto Rican origin Rita Moreno, one of the twenty actors who won four major show business awards – an Oscar, a Golden Globe (received for a best supporting role in the musical “West Side Story”, 1961), Tony and “Emmy” In 2004, Moreno was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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1954 Mercury Monterey: a car that outperformed the average Ford

EngineV8Horsepower161 hp at 4400 rpmTorque323 Nm at 2200 rpmWeight1680 Kg, 3704 LbDrive TypeRWD Engine LocationLongitudinal frontTransmission3-speed automatic Merc-o-Matic

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