Greetings. My name is Roger Currie, AKA roger628. As a result of some correspondence with Paul last week, I’d like to introduce what I hope will be at least a semi-regular feature. While residing in South Korea limits cars I can shoot for features (I’m still after that elusive Hyundai Pony pickup), I have something to share that most of you will find equally compelling. Since I was an avid brochure and literature collector in my old life, I had a policy of saving anything of this nature I ran across on the web. A number of years ago, I augmented my web finds by scanning a lot of own stuff during my last extended stay in Canada. Well, topsy sure has grown , and as a result of this
obsession hobby I now have nearly 150,000 well cataloged images. We’ll start with one many of you probably have never heard of, the 1967 full-size Mercury Montego.
Imagine, if you will, a digitized version of the well known “Standard Catalog of (insert brand here)” that have been compiled and published by one Tad Burness. My project has turned into a “Standard Catalog of Everything on 4 Wheels Built in the Last 100 Years”. At Paul’s behest, I will be selecting some of the more obscure models in my digital inventory to write features on. Being from Canada, and growing up in a FoMoCo household, my first post quite naturally is about one of the nicest Canadian Fords you have never heard of, the 1967 Montego. A 1967 Montego, huh?! Well, it’s like this.
1967 was a great year for Canada. For one thing, it was Canada’s Centennial. The esteemed, late, great Canadian author and social critic Pierre Burton wrote a book called 1967, The Last Good Year, published in 1997. Maybe he was right!
After decades of residing in the shadow of the great power to the south, it was time for the country to let it’s collective hair down and have a party. And what a party it was! Expo ’67 in Montreal was our announcement to the world that Canada had arrived. The economy was great, incomes were up, and after decades of relative frugality, Canadians were in the mood for a little conspicuous consumption.
Quite naturally, when people become more well-off, procuring a fancy automobile is usually near the top of the to-do list. A year earlier, GM of Canada launched the Pontiac Grand Parisienne, a mix of Pontiac Grand Prix and Chevy Caprice trim components. The Maple Leaf GP was quite successful, prompting the boys at FoMoCo Canada to come up with something to counter it. The arch rival to the Canadian Pontiac, AKA GM 7000 series, was Ford’s Meteor. The Meteor had been rebooted in 1964 as a Mercury body with a Ford dash and soft trims, as opposed to the Ford bodied incarnation that had existed from 1949 to 1961.
The initial 1964 version had been quite austere. This shortcoming was partially addressed by the 1965 introduction of the Montcalm, which featured the interior of the 1965 Galaxie 500, lifted almost unchanged from it’s donor, save for badging.
This was a step in the right direction, and the Meteor in this guise proved immensely popular. For about $50 CDN over the price of a Galaxie, you could have a Mercury, by gum, or at least something that closely resembled one. Evidently, noting the demographic trend to greater affluence in Canada, the marketing boys had even loftier aspirations for the Meteor. Enter the 1967 Montego.
Available in 2-door hardtop or flossy convertible, the Montego was the “luxury” Meteor.
The car was created by again expediently utilizing trim parts from a US model donor, in this case, the Ford LTD and XL. The interior came in a choice of bench or bucket seats. The bench interior was straight out of the 1967 LTD coupe, save for some small badging differences.
The bucket seat version owed its existence to the in itself very rare XL Luxury Trim option. When Galaxie XL buyers checked this box, they got upgraded seats with LTD-style embroidery, carpeted LTD-style door panels with courtesy lamps, cut-pile carpeting, a rear seat center armrest, additional “wood-tone appliques” and “Comfort-Stream Ventilation”, a powered, flow-thru ventilation system employing 2 dash vents.
One key engineering area where Meteors differed from their Ford brethren was engine availability. Whereas the high performance 427 CID units weren’t available, the 410 CID mill usually seen in US Mercury models was. Another key item not available, surprisingly enough, was Air Conditioning. While AC was of course available on Fords, any customer wanting it had to source his or her car from a US plant, since Oakville assembly wasn’t set up to install it until 1968. Since Oakville was the only facility putting Meteors together, it was a no-go.
The Montego wasn’t particularly successful. As a result, they are
seldom seen extinct today, even at car shows, especially the convertible. While production figures have so far eluded me, suffice to say they are very rare. Actually, my father played a small part in the culling of Montegos, too. In the autumn of 1968, he and and a friend embarked on a business trip to Regina. Of course, it was in his friend’s red Montego hardtop, which just happened to be leased through the Ford Leasing System as per the above ad. Feeling tired, the friend entrusted wheel duties to my dad on the return trip.
Two blocks from our home, he made a left turn in front of a kid in a speeding ’55 Chevy. The Chevy caught the front clip and tweaked it mightily as the big Merc spun around like a top, and that was the end of that car. Thankfully, dad was an early adopter of seat belts (lap only in this case) and arrived home with nothing more than facial contusions. Rather than have the car repaired (it was a near total) his thankfully uninjured friend simply turned the wreck back into Ford Leasing System and replaced it with a ’69 LTD coupe, which I was nonplussed to discover had an interior no better than my dad’s ’69 Galaxie 500 coupe.
I have little information on why this model failed in marketplace. Perhaps it suffered from the same stigma as the Plymouth VIP, which had to share showroom space with Chryslers, making a Newport Custom an easy upsell to a prospective buyer. A Montego intender may have been easily convinced by his salesperson to upgrade to a Mercury Park Lane for similar reasons. The nameplate may have ended ignominiously except for one thing. The L-M Division men in Dearborn unceremoniously filched the moniker from Ford of Canada, thinking it might be just the ticket for Mercury’s intermediate line, which was suffering from identity issues of it’s own in the marketplace. This act of larceny forced Ford of Canada to come up with a new name for the top end Meteor, LeMoyne, named after a storied 17th Century Quebec military man.
But that’s a story for another time.