Curbside Classic: 1968 Mercury Colony Park – Ahoy There, Matey!

(first posted 6/16/2012)    Despite the fact that at the end, there was not much left to Mercury Division, I still miss them. While Mercury was a fancier Ford for most of its existence, there were still some fairly unique and attractive designs. The 1965-68 Mercury took a couple more steps away from Ford than the 1961-64 versions, and it showed in cars like this ’68 Colony Park, complete with “yacht paneling.”

The Colony Park was L-M’s top of the line wagon, and it showed in period advertising: “If Lincoln Continental made a wagon, this would be it.” Priced at a healthy $3760, the CP distinguished itself from the more pedestrian Commuter wagon with its plank-style woodgrained paneling. If you didn’t already think one of these wagons was a land yacht, this handily eliminated any lingering doubt.

All Mercury station wagons had the dual-action Magic Doorgate, and could be equipped with either a conventional rear facing third row seat or dual facing jump seats. While every wagon on the market had the conventional third row bench, Ford Motor Company apparently was alone in offering the dual facing third row. They would actually remain on FoMoCo wagons right up to the end of Colony Park/Country Squire production in 1991.

Apparently, the upwardly mobile folks who bought a Mercury wagon much preferred the Colony Park to the plain-sided Commuter, as CP sales was nearly two and a half times better than the Commuter, to the tune of 21,179 to 8,688. I guess no one minded paying the extra $300 to gain a woodgrain vinyl wallpapered full size station wagon, the status symbol of 1960s suburbia.

I am curious as to how comfortable (or uncomfortable) those side-mounted third row seats were. I would think looking out of the side of a moving car would induce motion sickness, but I never got a chance to ride in the “way back” of one of these. By the time I came around, my parents and friends’ parents either had midsize, two-row station wagons, sedans, or minivans.

If you wanted to haul the whole family and a boat to the Grand Canyon for vacation, the Colony Park could do so with no trouble. The standard powerplant was a 265 hp 390 V8, breathing through a two barrel, Autolite C8AF-9510-M carb. And that was just for starters. Optional engines were there for the taking, starting with a 280 horse, 2 BBL 390 and going all the way up to a 4 BBL 428 with 360 horsepower.

In 1968 Mercury had a full lineup, including the Cougar (in its original, pseudo-Jaguar form), the powerful Cyclone fastback (you could be just like Cale Yarborough!), and Jack Lord’s favorite ride, a Park Lane Brougham four door hardtop. Hard to believe Mercury fell so far from its solid 1968 stance over the next thirty years. Rest in peace Mercury, you are missed.

Special thanks to c5karl, who found this time capsule of a Colony Park in a suitable suburban setting, complete with white picket fence. There’s been a number of interesting additions to the Cohort like this one over the last couple weeks. Why not check it out?