The recent post by Paul Niedermeyer showing ’57 Fords on a car carrier had a link to one of Paul’s earlier articles featuring a rather worn but still functioning 1957 Ford Skyliner retractable hardtop. In that article, Paul states “I’m rather sorry to imagine it eventually getting properly restored, as there probably aren’t many functioning Skyliners in this kind of condition anymore. And you know how I am about originality, authenticity and patina.” I think I know what Paul means by this. It immediately brought to mind this 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser that I just found on eBay.
In 2014, a ’57 Turnpike Cruiser was featured on CC, but it was a bright red, shiny, rather sterile, fully restored example in a museum somewhere. And it had all the unnecessary extra goop on it like a continental kit, skirts, etc. No, this example that I just discovered is a lot more “honest”, although it does need a serious amount of work.
In case you don’t know already, the Turnpike Cruiser was a futuristic “production dream car” loaded with all kinds of advanced, “straight out of tomorrow” styling and mechanical features, priced at the top of the 1957 Mercury line. I can just imagine customers walking into a Lincoln-Mercury dealership in the fall of ’56 and laying their eyes on this lithe, encrusted beauty gleaming in the showroom. I mean, if you wanted THE ULTIMATE, this is it, baby!
I can see the motivated salesman pointing out all the far-out features: the “Quadri-Beam” headlights; the “War of the Worlds” roof level air intakes which sprouted little (fake) radio antennae (“Why?”); the power retractable rear window; the tachometer and average speed computer clock; and so many other features “not found on any other car at any price!” If you wanted a car to impress the neighbors, park this strato-cruiser in the driveway of your suburban tract house and let the neighbor parents and their kids just sit there and drool! It would seem as if the “World of Tomorrow” prophesies of the 1939 New York World’s Fair had finally come to pass!
As noted, this car’s for sale and is located in Moreno Valley, CA. In my “buy the car and restore it” fantasy (which isn’t going to happen), I would fix all the mechanical problems, get a professional restore on the front seat, door panels and dash pad; get all those fascinating gauges working, restore the flattop steering wheel, repaint or touch up the original white paint (preserving most of the rest), and buff out the Moonmist Yellow. I would also search the world to find the missing body trim pieces. I might even leave the blackwall tires on, since whitewalls were actually optional, and a lot of cars in the ’50s didn’t have them. Make it nicely driveable and relatively good looking from 20 feet, while keeping much of the authentic “patina”. Just to have a “mostly unrestored” Mercury Turnpike Cruiser–the way they typically looked after the shiny new aura had started to wear off (which in the case of these cars didn’t take very long).
Everything about this car is crazy . . . ah, “innovative” . . . which is why I like it so much! In a world of serious-minded adults and conservative corporations, something like this shouldn’t even exist–and yet, here it is! The designers and the advertising copywriters were trying SO hard. Too bad sales were well below expectations–the Turnpike Cruiser was made for just one more year (1958), and then vanished forever, like so many of man’s ethereal dreams.
So let’s all hope that this unlikely survivor finds a good home. I hope it receives some form of restoration and goes back on the road. However, as with so many cars we see come and go, we will probably never find out its true fate.