Throughout the 1930s, the Ford Motor Company faced a huge void in sales. The low-priced Ford continued to be a good seller, and the luxury Lincoln held its own in sales volume for the times, but the hole in the middle grew too large to ignore. Ford needed to slow sales to the competition with a mid-price entry into the market and they needed it fast.
While many felt a super Ford model may fit the bill, Henry Ford, with the help of his son, Edsel, developed the mid-priced Mercury line. While it did have its styling tied to the popular-selling Ford, it was a totally different automobile in size and amenities. Making its debut in 1939, Mercury was well-received by car buyers and strong sales proved it successful.
Ten years later, the postwar 1949 Mercury shed it’s Ford styling cues and marched forward with a bold style closer to the Lincoln line.
From 1952 to 1954 Mercury, Lincoln and Ford shared similar platforms, yet each marque maintained a very different sales segment. By 1955, it was hard to tell if they belonged to the same family, as each went their own way in style and price and became separate divisions within the Ford Motor Company.
For 1957, the Mercury was the forward-thinking division with the introduction of the stylish Turnpike Cruiser model. Air-scoop ventilation, quad-headlamps, retracting rear windows and push-button transmission selectors put Mercury in a class all its own. Unfortunately, a recession in 1958, along with the introduction of the new mid-priced Edsel models, resulted in slower sales for Mercury dealers. Despite their cleaner styling, larger, more powerful V-8 engines and improved handling and ride, sales still proved lacklustre.
For Constant Cooke and Heather Pierce of Lorette, their want for a classic car with style was a natural. “We just wanted to find something from the 1950s that looked back to a simpler time,” Cooke says. In March 2018, they found an ad offering a 1958 Mercury in Transcona.
The 1958 Mercury Monterey two-door hardtop was a 103,000-kilometre car originally from British Columbia. Sparingly used and only summer-driven once it found its home in Manitoba, it was in very good condition.
Finished in Burgundy Metallic with white vinyl and grey broadcloth interior upholstery, it’s a sharp-looking car.
Total production for the Monterey two-door hardtop in 1958 was 13,693 units, but Cooke’s Monterey hardtop was built in Canada. Canadian production figures for this model have it listed as one of 1,012 produced. Sold new on Sept. 18, 1958, at Clarke Simpkins Ltd. in Vancouver, it was a late order and probably one of the last to roll off of the assembly line before the retooling for the 1959 models.
Riding on a generous 122-inch wheelbase, weighing 4,100 pounds, it’s a substantial-sized car, offering a smooth ride. Powering the Mercury is a 383-cubic inch V-8 engine. The Marauder engine option features a 10.5:1 compression ratio, Holley four-barrel carburetor and dual-exhaust system. The package offers 312 horsepower and more than 400 foot-pounds of torque, making the Monterey a real highway cruiser.
Inside, the car is nicely appointed with an optional Merc-O-Matic three-speed automatic transmission. In 1958, a push-button gear selector was used, similar to the one introduced in the Mercury line in 1957.
There’s also power steering, power brakes, Deluxe AM radio, electric clock, tinted glass and whitewall tires with full wheel covers.
Since purchasing the car, Cooke has performed a full engine tune-up, repaired some door seals, repaired the backup lamp wiring, repaired the door locks and installed a new front emblem and headlamp bezels.
“Just the odd bit of work and minor adjustments you’d expect to do on an older vehicle,” Cooke says.
Cooke and Pierce have been enjoying the numerous show-and-shine events and cruise nights throughout the summer.
“We lucked into finding the car and it’s one we’ll enjoy for a long time,” Cooke says. “We also appreciate the whole classic-car scene, the people we’ve met along the way and the ones we’ll meet in the years to come”
The 1958 Mercury Monterey features an electric clock, Deluxe AM radio and power steering.
Photos by Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press
The 1958 Mercury Monterey was a design to satisfy the future, but a recession slowed sales and production. Now, it’s a sought-after collector’s item for lovers of classic cars.