CC Capsule: 1961 Mercury Monterey Convertible – You Never Know When Someone You Already Know Is Secretly Another Old-Car Fan

Every now and then I take my team at work out for lunch, as on this late-spring day. Brandon, one of the software engineers on my team, and I had fallen a little behind the rest on our way back from an Italian place. We walked and talked when we came upon this 1961 Mercury Monterey convertible parked in front of one of Indianapolis’s best-known (and most expensive) restaurants. That’s Brandon in the white shirt and khakis behind the car. I stopped and whipped out my phone for a few shots — and Brandon immediately ran around behind the car and squatted down. “What are you up to, my man?” I asked.

“It’s a little trick I’ve learned, to look on the tail lights for a year stamp. Given that with older cars details like this changed from year to year, you can date a car this way. And this one’s from 1961!”

It’s a trick I know well. “Are you a fan of old cars?” I asked. “My father used to restore cars, and I spent a lot of time around them as a kid, so I guess you can say that I am!” he replied. How cool is that? I told him that I photograph old cars wherever I find them, and write about the most interesting ones for Curbside Classic. “I’ll write about this one eventually,” I said. He seemed pleased that this car would get its moment in the spotlight.

1961 was the first year of the Monterey’s fifth generation. After a couple years sharing a body with Edsel, Mercury once again shared its body with Ford this year. The Monterey topped the regular Mercury line in 1961, with the Meteor 800 and Meteor 600 behind it in price and prestige. 1961 was the only year the Meteor would be a full-sized Mercury; for 1962 the nameplate was affixed to Mercury’s new intermediate, and then the nameplate was discontinued after 1963. But for 1961, regardless of series, this car shared a roof with the concurrent Ford Galaxie, making it perhaps not as distinctive as Mercury would have liked.

Naturally, we’ve discussed this generation of full-sized Mercury many times before: here, here, here, here, here, and here.