Last September, this Monterey caught my shutter in the salvage yard because it’s almost certainly the first one I’d seen in the flesh. This is unsurprising, since I was born five years after its inception and I grew up in a GM town. Therefore, less traditionally desirable Fords and Chryslers from the 1970s were nothing more than pictures in automotive anthologies for my formative psyche.
Even if I had grown up in Dearborn itself, however, it would have been unlikely that I would have seen a ’72 Monterey Custom Hardtop. After all, early 70s Ford products didn’t benefit from rustproofing in nearly any sense of the word, so Michigan made a quick meal of their rot-prone sheetmetal. Therefore, they mainly suffered the same destiny as the feature car.
Another explanation for the Monterey’s relative rarity is the simple fact that few purchased them in the first place. According to my Standard Catalog of Ford 1903-1998, only 5,910 were ever produced in this bodystyle and trim level, which is too bad.
Image courtesy of collectorcarads.com
As far as 1970s Fords go (and I think their styling was the worst of the Big Three in the 1970s), the Monterey was sharp in an elephantine sort of way. The roof had a chopped, custom (ha ha) appearance that out-Lincolned Lincoln. The kick-up from the rear of the door into the quarter-window added interest to what could have been a fairly rectilinear affair. In all, I think this is a much better effort than concurrent full-sized Fords.
I didn’t check under the hood, but the Monterey Custom came standard with a 400 two-barrel, with optional 429 and 460. All three were smoggers; even the 460 pumped out a wheezy 224 horsepower (partly thanks to retarded cam timing for emissions, if I’m not mistaken). Par for the course in ’72.
Unsurprisingly, the best selling full-sized Mercury in ’72 was the top-of-the-line Marquis Brougham, a harbinger of what was to come as the ’70s elapsed. Mercury moved over 20,000 hardtop versions, even though they cost roughly $1000 more than a comparable Monterey Custom.
Therefore, the Custom is an uncommon sight today. Few have collected them, and most have long ago been cleared from the salvage yards of America. This one was temporarily spared, offering us a colorful ’70s blast from the past on a gloomy Monday.