Cohort Sighting: 1954 Mercury Sun Valley – America’s First Transparent-Top Car

Mercury 1954 Sun valley

If Detroit’s dream-spinners had their way, everyone would have been driving under a plexiglass bubble-topped car since 1946. The endless images of fighter cockpits and space-agey flying-saucer-mobiles on the covers of Popular Science and other magazines presumed the inevitability of a glass-topped future. Unfortunately a few minor niggling issues, like the sun and lack of affordable air conditioning put the kibosh on that. But the idea wouldn’t quite go away, at least until someone took the plunge. And who would that be? Ford, which in 1954 issued two similar glass-topped hardtops, the splendidly-named Mercury Sun Valley and the Ford Skyliner. William Rubano caught and posted this shot of a Sun Valley at the Cohort.

Mercury 1954 SV ad


As can be seen here, the tinted transparent roof was cautiously limited to the front half only.

mercury 1954 -sun-valley-1

I could dig this in our wet seasons. But I wonder how much fun it was for folks in the summer, given how rather rare A/C was in 1954 in anything but expensive cars. The roof was pretty heavily tinted (unlike in its ads), and a snap-in fabric sun screen was also available, but it was still an idea whose time had not yet come. Some 9,761 sun-seeking souls bought 1954 Sun Valleys, but after the  1955 version only sold 1,787 times, the idea was given a rest.