(posted 12/1/2016) Just a few weeks ago, this site featured a QOTD asking for opinions as to the best and worst examples of fake wood paneling. There was such a fun (and hilarious) array of examples cited, so I’d recommend checking out that post if you haven’t already. As for our featured Colony Park, it’s got character that’s only enhanced by the presence (and condition) of its simulated wood. I imagine this old Mercury checks more than a few boxes for those who pine (no pun intended) for the days of the mainstream, full-sized, RWD, American station wagon. And so I present to you the “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” of classic longroofs.
Wagon-philes, it’s okay to admit that if you saw this particular example on a used car lot, freshly Simonized and Armor-All’ed, and with a fresh set of deluxe wheel covers, you might be tempted to take it home over something reasonably modern, efficient, and manageable. Something like a Ford Flex (recently featured here) might be the equivalent of one of the shiny, aluminum trees passed over by Charlie Brown and Linus Van Pelt in that enduring, animated TV Christmas special – modern, advanced, and somewhat analogous to the real thing, with proportions almost like those of an actual station wagon. I suspect that there are, self-included, more than a few other Charlie Browns among our readership who are feeling right now like they want to put a blue blanket around this Colony Park.
Speaking of “park”, I wouldn’t let this car’s size put you off from pulling the trigger on the purchase. Simply buy two city parking permits and call it a day. Also, make friends with your neighbor with the unused, covered parking space. As for the rust? Pshaw. Doesn’t look that bad to me. This wagon was one of about 10,800 ’74 Colony Parks produced for the model year, with prices starting at about $5,100 (about $24,500 in 2016) before options. Its starting weight was a full two-and-a-half tons, and power came from a standard 195-horse 460-V8. Curiously, Buick’s comparable ’74 Estate Wagon started within 20 pounds and $40 of the same-year Colony Park, and gave up just 15-hp from it’s standard Buick 455-V8. The whiz-bang Buick with its “clamshell” rear tailgate outsold the Mercury by about 4,500 units that year (roughly 40%). I wonder how many examples of each remain in running condition today.
I guess it’s time to address the elephant in the room – the Di-Noc. Oh, Mercury… To quote Lucy Van Pelt, “Can’t you tell a good tree from a poor tree?” As a hungry college student, I remember having bought secondhand furniture from thrift stores with wood-tone veneer that was more convincing than what we see here, this example’s obvious oxidation issues notwithstanding. If you were going to pattern artificial wood, why would you pick the single, jankiest tree in the forest to model it after? All that’s missing are moss and fake termites. (Okay… I admit that I’m now starting to sound like one of those mean kids who was ganging up on Charlie Brown for his choice of Christmas tree, and so I beg your pardon.)
Allow me to try to “Linus” this post back to the semi-sympathetic place at which I started. In addition to a little body work and some attentiveness to the damage from moisture and the infamous rust mite, all I think this mammoth Mercury really needs is a little love. Let’s hope it’s getting some these days. “Loo, loo, loooo…♪♫”
Uptown, Chicago, Illinois.
Saturday, December 15, 2012.
- From Tom Klockau: Curbside Classic: 1988 Mercury Colony Park – Colonizing Mercury;
- Curbside Classic: 1975 Ford Country Squire – The Car That Made Di-Noc Millions; and
- From Paul Niedermeyer (for a Buick that competed in the same space): Curbside Classic: 1975 Buick Estate Wagon – The Ultimate American Station Wagon.