From Shorpy. “Ford 50th Anniversary vehicle display at the Ford Rotunda.” On the turntable, the 1954 Mercury Monterey “Sun Valley” with its green-tinted plexiglas roof. Color transparency from the Ford Motor Co. photographic archive. (Click image for max size)
Vintage Photograph: Ford Rotunda, 1953
– Posted on October 9, 2020
Terrific image. I just finished reading “Once In A Great City: A Detroit Story”, where the destruction of the Ford Rotunda by accidental fire in 1963 (ten years after this photo) kicks off the whole account.
I need to read that. I’ve been fascinated by the Rotunda since seeing pictures of the fire in a 1978 edition of Ford Times, which featured highlights from the company’s first 75 years.
Excellent pic. Excluding the cars, and the sea green/dusty rose/ light yellow colour scheme, the architecture and exhibit design would still look great 20 years (or more) later. Besides the cars, the buttoned seating dates it to the early 50s. The back lit displays and oversized photography are especially impressive for the era.
The architecture is phenomenal. When you first look at the picture it looks like a perfectly proportioned miniature diorama. Then when you realize the cars are real and you mentally adjust the building accordingly the true beauty of the building comes into play.
I had the same illusion. The top of the pictures seems to be eye level, and the cars are models about the size of pool tables. Toy pedal cars.
I’ll admit I really love the 52-55 Lincolns. Quiet, subtle, a car that shows you don’t have to scream at the top of your lungs that you’re financially better off (or at least faking it better) than everyone else around you. So, of course, it failed completely in the American market, because too many rich Americans are loud and ugly Americans. And going to shove it in your face.
And that Mercury Sun Valley was damn close to a Lincoln. A nice ride for someone who was well off, but was uncomfortable shouting it at even Lincoln levels.
Yeah, it failed. Subtlety and self-effacing are anti-American.
GM’s market share was another factor. They sold plenty of modestly dignified Olds 98s and Buick Roadmasters to people who could afford but didn’t want to flash it around in a Cadillac.
Another reason that I need a time machine…It’s too bad what happened to it. I wonder if Ford would have kept it around if it had survived, considering what they’re now doing to their styling center (which admittedly isn’t open to the public like the Rotunda was).
My father in law had a Sun Valley exactly as in the photo. Didn’t have A/C. Didn’t keep the car long either! Way too hot in the summer. Understand they only came in yellow or what looks to be the same green as that Ford in the picture. All had the same green top.
Summer heat was an issue in these and it’s Crown Victoria cousin. It was such a problem that Ford later came out with a zippered headliner in an attempt to keep out the suns rays. Of course that defeated the whole purpose of the plexiglass roof in the first place. A/C would have helped greatly, but that was an expensive and rare option in those days, often adding 20% to a cars price.
The Sun Valley was one of the cars I remember Tad Burness featuring in his “Auto Album” which I got around 1966 or so (and wish I still had to this day).
I’m just hanging on the day when another carmaker announces that the new model will be available only in green or yellow! ; >
Some of those colors (even on cars) survived in Miami in the 80s when I was there. And I absolutely loved it.
Seeing these cars in their “home environment” both helps explains why they look as they do, and is also very complementary to the cars. Out in the real world, much later, these sorts of cars always looked a bit “fish out of water” to me.
Similarly, vintage photos of the Studebaker Avanti always showed to car to its best form in Palm Springs, and, now, in architecturally historic areas of Palm Springs.
Cars are often a specific result of a time and a place.