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Mercury Monterey Hardtop, Blue, for sale in Warrensville Heights, Ohio, for $32,900.
Careful inspection will indicate that this was never a rusty car, and it has been refinished in its original combination of Lakeland Blue with a white top.
In 1954, the Monterey was Mercury’s top-of-the-line model, with the hardtop being one of the most popular body styles. Fitted with an all-new 256 cubic inch OHV V8, it was suddenly the most modern car on the market, and performance, even by today’s standards, was impressive. It also has tidy proportions, larger than a comparable Ford, but still a personal car, and some of the details, such as the stainless sail panels and taillights, are icons that have been used by customizers and hot rodders for decades thanks to their brilliant design.
Hailing from the Jim Mueller collection, this particular Monterey hardtop received a frame-off restoration in the late-90s, and was refurbished with an eye towards putting it on the road. Careful inspection will indicate that this was never a rusty car, and it has been refinished in its original combination of Lakeland Blue with a white top. Perfectly capturing the spirit of the ‘50s, the light blue finish is the ideal choice, giving this hardtop a light-hearted attitude but a bit of formality as well. The workmanship is quite good, with very straight panel work, good gaps, and beautiful details like the curve of the rear fender with its bright trim accents. The only place showing any signs of age are some very minor bubbles at the base of the driver’s door and light checking on one of the headlight bezels, but neither is noticeable from even five feet away.
It’s also clear that someone spent a year’s worth of mortgage payments on restoring the chrome, because it’s excellent throughout. The Mercury grille and bumper assembly evolved in 1954, and is a cleaner design with the “teeth” simulated by black paint on the grille itself. It’s both easier to assemble and easier to maintain. The stainless side trim, as well as everything around the windows, has been polished and shows s soft shine today that fits perfectly with the rest of the car. All the emblems, from the Monterey script on the quarters to the “Merc-O-Matic” badge on the deck lid, are beautifully finished.
The two-tone white and blue interior has also been restored to factory specifications. Although the photos make it look otherwise, the beautiful door panels match the seats correctly, and have been stitched in the correct patterns. All the hardware appears to be original and in excellent condition, although the sill plates are surely brand new reproductions. New carpets were installed during the restoration, and the seats remain firm and comfortable. Of note, all the instruments are fully functional and the mileage shown is believed to be authentic. Even the clock keeps time as it should, and the original AM radio has been fitted with a hidden FM converter that works perfectly. There’s more chrome inside, where brightly polished panels on the C-pillars echo the exterior trim, and another crisply detailed Monterey emblem has been fitted to the dash. In the trunk, there’s a full-sized spare, jack assembly, and a reproduction mat. Also note that this car is completely rust-free, with a solid trunk and door hinge pockets that show zero issues.
Ford rolled out their all-new overhead valve V8 in 1954, and it was a big step forward over the venerable flathead V8. A truly modern design, the 256 cubic inch V8 in this Mercury lights off as quickly as a fuel-injected modern car, and idles with a muted V8 rumble that suggest great power without being too up-front about it. The engine bay was nicely detailed during the restoration and maintained well in the intervening years, with bright Mercury Turquoise paint on the engine itself, and proper finishes throughout. Notable upgrades include a replacement 4-barrel carburetor in place of the original (and troublesome) “teapot” Holley, as well as a dual-reservoir master cylinder with power assist for the brakes. It retains its original 6-volt electrical system which still spins the starter with vigor, and the single exhaust system has just the right sound. The Merc-O-Matic 3-speed automatic transmission shifts easily, and the car can cruise easily at modern highway speeds without apparent effort, thanks to a 3.91 gear set out back. Four new 215/75/15 wide whitewall radials have been fitted to the original wheels and hubcaps, giving it a modern ride with a vintage look.
This is an out-of-the-ordinary ‘50s cruiser with great performance and a wonderful subtle look. It is in it ideal condition to drive and enjoy with no needs, and recent auction results show that these are increasing in value faster than some of their contemporaries. Reliable, powerful, and fun, it’s a great choice when you want to stand out among all the tailfins and glitter of the usual ‘50s lineup.