We here at Curbside are the world’s arbiters of good taste and appropriateness. So whenever a car like this Mercury (or other car from this era) is shown sporting such gewgaws as “continental” kits, add-on fender skirts, and other such puerile frippery, the outrage in the comment section reaches epic proportions. (And I agree with the commenters, just so you know which side I’m on.) So just to cleanse everyone’s palates, I now present to you this 1957 Mercury Monterey Phaeton Coupé for sale on eBay, which is very close to being in the same state as when it was sold new, albeit with 64 years of wear.
If you travel to Thief River Falls, Minnesota, sitting in a field, you will find this.
It is claimed that the paint is original, but I can’t tell if it’s “Flo-Toned” with Rosewood or Desert Tan over Classic White. Or maybe it’s Persimmon? The colors always look darker than they really are in these paint charts:
It’s interesting that even if they were offered as factory options, the skirts and continental kits are almost never shown in the magazine ad and brochure illustrations. What does that tell you?
Ahhh, there’s that pure, unadulterated rear end design. As a matter of fact, I have discovered in the course of doing research for this post no fewer than FOUR different rear bumper variations, as shown below:
#1: What this car has. Plain inserts.
#2: Grilled inserts with black openings.
#4: Finer grille with black openings–special NASCAR version?
And of course, Mercury offered TWO different front ends in ’57, depending on whether you were really in tune with the latest avant-garde and ordered “Quadra-Beam” headlights or not. (This car has the standard single headlights.)
No skirts here–always loved that graceful “airfoil” rear wheel cutout shape. I think we can find replacement wheelcovers.
This is the kind of detail you don’t see in car pictures: there’s an aerodynamic-looking “scoop” in the roof, because this is a “dream car of the future.” Word has it that when you hit the brakes hard when it’s raining, collected water spills down the windshield! But “dream cars” don’t get driven in the rain, do they?
Let’s open the door and look inside . . .
Door panel upholstery looks a little plain, however this is a bottom-of-the-line Monterey.
This dash is cool. No fuzzy dice even–I’m shocked! There are little tricks for making that cracked steering wheel look fresh and new. It’s hard to find the black vinyl instrument panel safety pad in that good a condition.
Scope out the engine–that flexible hose attached to the air cleaner is for the “Thermo-Matic” carburetor. Finding this setup still intact is rare.
A thermostatically controlled flap moved up or down to allow warm or cool air to enter the carburetor, depending on outside temperature. Was Mercury the first car to have this feature?
It does my heart good knowing that there’s this unrestored, nearly all-original Monterey coupé out there. Because we all know the same sad story, don’t we? That most of these ended up as crusher meat or demolition derby fodder, as in the 1974 movie Herbie Rides Again.
So here’s what you should do: buy this car, keep it original. Protect her from the meatballs out there who would do unspeakable things to her. And the world will be a much better place because of it!