(first posted 11/15/2015) 1966 sales literature proudly proclaimed the Mercury Colony Park as “The finest this side of the Lincoln Continental”, and 1968 even claimed “If Lincoln Continental made a wagon, this would be it”. Yet in spite of what Mercury’s marketing wanted you to believe, this was sadly never the case.
In reality, the Colony Park was never much of a “Lincoln Continental” wagon, with levels of luxury nowhere near Ford Motor Company’s iconic flagship. As a matter of fact, the Colony Park was barely a step above the near identical Ford Country Squire to even be called a “luxury Country Squire”, with trim, comfort and convince features more or less the same.
Sharing their chassis and greenhouse with the full-size Ford wagons, the fourth generation (1965-1968) Colony Parks and Commuters featured mostly unique lower sheetmetal. With formal-looking straight-edged and upright sheetmetal, externally, the Colony Park was did indeed have a higher resemblance to a Lincoln, but that was pretty much where similarities with the luxury car ended. What’s more is that despite Mercury’s theoretically higher position than Ford, with two alike vehicles and Ford’s far higher sales volume, it was the Country Squire that gained all the fame and prestige as FordMoCo’s premier station wagon.
Furthermore, the Country Squire’s ability to transcend its brand’s hierarchal position is noteworthy in itself. Over the course of history, there have been very few vehicles with such the broad socioeconomic appeal of the Country Squire during this period. Despite the Ford brand’s lack of snob appeal, a Country Squire would not have looked anymore out of place parked in the gated courtyard of a sprawling Hampton estate than it would parked by the curb in a middle-class tract home neighborhood. On this note, Ford’s own Thunderbird also achieved this transcendence, passing Mercury to bridge the gap between Ford and Lincoln, but that’s a story for another day.
The Colony Park was by no means completely invisible, with 1966 sales coming in at just under 19,000 units. This number was about three times that of Mercury’s base Commuter wagon, suggesting that well-heeled buyers (such as Mad Men‘s Betty Draper, who drove a ’62 Colony Park) did indeed see Mercury as a maker of prestigious station wagons. Of course, 1966 Country Squire sales were more than three times that of the Colony Park. It should also be noted (likely as a coincidence, but still interesting) that Berry Draper began driving a new higher-status Country Squire only after she became wealthier via inheritance and her second marriage in later seasons.
Why the Colony Park wasn’t made more luxurious and Lincoln-like in amenities still remains somewhat a mystery. On the one hand, making a truly luxurious wagon seems like an untapped market that Ford could’ve explored at the time. Think of it as the precursor to the true luxury SUV. Yet then again, family cars have always put a strong sense of practicality over any luxury, and durable, easy-to-clean vinyl seats and lack of any electrical gizmos, breakable by kids in the back, were probably significant needs for many buyers. Additionally, the Country Squire already had a prestigious enough image, and Ford was likely satisfied with the number of them it was selling during this time. Any additional Colony Park sales purely bonus.
In any event, as Mercury’s premier station wagon, the Colony Park was graced with the requisite vinyl Di-Noc woodgrain siding. 1965-1966 models retained the unique blade-like shape of woodgrain from second and third generation Colony Parks. Beginning with the 1967 facelift, woodgrain would somewhat excessively cover the entire sides of the car, down to the rocker panels. This very original car’s Di-Noc has essentially disintegrated after 49 years, but luckily the lighter-toned surrounds preserve the look.
1966 Colony Parks featured a 390 cubic inch (6.4 liter) V8 making 265 horsepower (275 when coupled with the optional Merc-O-Matic automatic transmission) and 410 pound-feet of torque as their standard power plant, while a 410 cubic inch (6.7L) V8 was optional, pouring out 330 horsepower and 444 pound-feet of torque. A 3-speed manual was the standard transmission, but for a large family car, the optional Merc-O-Matic automatic transmission was likely the more common.
As was expected, the frame, suspension, and tires of these large Mercurys’ “compliance-tuned-chassis” were all aimed at producing a soft, comfortable ride. Promotional material used words like “restful” and “refined” to describe the Colony Park’s ride. This car is pretty light on the options, but does feature the available all-vinyl interior. Power windows, power door locks, power front bench seat, air conditioning, Stereo Sonic tape player, and rear speakers were among other available options. Riding on a 119-inch wheelbase, these Colony Parks were over 216 inches long and nearly 80 inches wide; by all means a very large car even by today’s standards. This of course translated to a cavernous interior, with over 62 inches of front and rear hip room, and a healthy 91.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity with the rear seats folded flat.
At the rear, prominent tail fins remained from the previous year, but for 1966 they were now graced with attractive three-sided taillights. Also new for 1966 models was Mercury’s “Dual Action” tailgate, which could either fold down or swing out to be opened. This feature was retained on all full-size Ford wagons through the bodystyle’s demise in 1991. It would also be copied by Chrysler and GM, for their full-size wagons, both for the 1969 model year.
I don’t know whether or not this car sold, but whichever the case, I can only hope that its current owner will soon address the rust issues and any other threatening maladies. The otherwise original state of the car is refreshing to see, but it would be a shame to see this beautiful wagon – Lincoln-like or not – succumb to the rust and corrosion.
1966 Mercury Monterey convertible
nice car but I didn’t think they’ve gotten the Lincoln Continental vibe until the 1969-78 Mercury Colony Park’s, was the Colony Park based on the Mercury Park Lane? If so I’m surprised the 390 2bbl engine was standard on the Colony Park yet the 410 4bbl engine was standard on the Park Lane.
In addition to the 410 engine, the Park Lane also had standard cornering lights instead of fake vents on the front fenders.
My 1966 Parklane Breezeway did not have cornering lights. I added them – interesting in that they operate with a “time-delay Relay” with pulsating current from the turn signals.
You’re right – the cornering lights were an option even on the Park Lane.
No, the Colony Park is essentially a mid-level Montclair (same interior, etc), and not a Park Lane. That’s also the point of the article: the Park Lane convertible and coupe had a very nice vinyl interior that would have looked a lot better in the Colony Park than the Montclair’s interior.
Yes, that’s the Montclair interior. Same as the one my folks had in aqua cloth and vinyl in their sedan.
Want! OK, maybe in slightly better shape than the featured car. How the heck does one restore the deteriorated paneling, anyway?
I learned to drive in my parents’ 390-equipped ’66 Squire, and very briefly had a Mercury Monterey sedan of the same year, so am very familiar with these cars. At the time I thought these ‘wood’-paneled beasts were hopelessly tacky, but now I absolutely love ’em. My recollection is that they drove surprisingly well for such behemoth machines; certainly better than the ’71 and ’73 Mercs my parents had later. The 390 was a big, heavy lump, but it moved these cars right along.
Fair enough that the Mercury doesn’t do much to justify the cost difference vs. the equivalent Ford, but I too like the taillights and the paneling ‘spears’. I’d take it.
Finding the Di-Noc vinyl inserts might not be all that difficult; 3M still sells the material in hundreds of patterns and textures. It’s used for outdoor advertising, and by furniture and cabinet manufacturers.
On the other hand, replacing the simulated ash trim might be a bit more difficult.
Woodgrain for Wagons and Stripeman both make replacement paneling, for a price:
http://www.woodgrain4wagons.com , http://www.stripeman.com/woodgrain-kits/
Looks like Woodgrain for Wagons will also restore the trim, but if you’re missing a piece, you may have to get creative.
Which is the power of the engine and the maximum speed
If you haven’t checked it out already, take a look at oldcarbrochures.com; I’m sure there is a 1966 Mercury brochure posted. If not, the same year’s Ford brochure will probably have the same engine listed.
You could Google “1966 Mercury top speed,” but I doubt anyone tested a wagon.
(Please forgive me…I usually don’t mind looking things up for other CCers, but I’ve got to do some things for Thanksgiving, and my internet connection is a bit slow this morning).
A Conti wagon? Someone made one – it’s a shame the factory never did offer this as an option…
See here: http://bangshift.com/general-news/ebay-find-2/ebay-find-this-one-of-none-1962-lincoln-continental-station-wagon-need-a-home/
The “luxury wagon” concept never really got anywhere in the 60s or 70s. The closest anyone ever came to it was the Chrysler Town & Country, but those sold in miniscule numbers and even then you needed to go all out on the options list.
I knew two people with Buick Estate Wagons (a 70 and a 71) and someone with a 75 Custom Cruiser. All had vinyl interior and were no better equipped than your average Olds Delta 88.
Nobody bought wagons then because they loved wagons, but because they had too many kids to fit in a sedan, or maybe to haul stuff for business or weekend camping. Luxury was for when you got rid of the sticky, barfing little ones.
My father had a 66 Country Squire, but I think I like this Colony Park better. Finding an original wagon this nice is a real score. Most of them got worked to death 30 years ago.
The Oldsmobile Custom Cruisers left me somewhat confused during the early and mid-1970s. They featured the grille from the Ninety-Eight, which we all knew was “better” than a mere Delta 88, along with rear fender skirts like the Ninety-Eight, but the interiors were anything but plush.
My uncle’s ’64 Buick Sportwagon qualifies. While based on the smaller A-body, it was decked out inside nicer than any contemporary wagon I saw. Also, it sat on a longer wheelbase than the others, making a forward-facing third seat possible.
Interesting. I had thought that, when Buick brought back the Estate Wagon in ’70 after a hiatus of only mid-size wagons for a few years, it was supposed to be the “luxurious” GM wagon?
I guess it was all in how you optioned it.
GM had the dual-action tailgates beginning in 1969. This ’66 Mercury is a handsome beast that deserves some TLC.
Was the dual action tailgate adopted at GM in 69 for ALL their wagons, or just the mid-sized wagons?
According to the brochures at Oldcarbrochures.org, it looks like the dual tailgate was adopted for the fullsize wagons in 1969 and the midsize in 1970.
GM had the dual action tailgates beginning in 1969, but not for long. They only licensed it for as long as they needed to; the full-sized wagons switched to the infamous clamshell for the 1971 model year, and the mid-sized wagons went to a liftgate when the Colonnades came out for the 1973 model year.
You are indeed correct. I’ve amended the text.
My family had 3 Ford wagons over the years, the last being a 64 Country Squire. Various uncles had 3 or 4 Ford wagons as well over the years, with 1 owning a 68 Country Squire.
Without verification I would guess the Colony Park had a larger displacement engine as standard. And apparently that was about as far as Ford/Mercury went when it came to differentiating the Ford and Mercury.
Mercury COULD have had a Colony Park nearly a Lincoln if they had made the smallest effort. For starters, DUMP the standard manual transmission. Then use the same paint colors as Lincoln and the same grade of carpeting as Lincoln. Why Ford/Mercury would wait til the mid 70s to do that with the Maverick/Comet LDO (Luxury Decor Option) is stupid. Then top it all off with a few Lincoln/Mercury “exclusive” options as standard.
This slogan actually began to be truer in the mid ’70s.
WRT to Mad Men, one of Pete Campbell’s suburban dalliances drove a ’66 Colony Park in one episode.
that’s not a car, its America.
Today’s SUV loving 30-somethings just cannot understand how desirable and coveted having a Ford station wagon in their suburban home’s driveway was for the generation that preceded them. It was a symbol of American middle class affluence.
The suburban “demand area” subdivision I grew up in had many a Ford wagon parked in the driveway.
A 2 story or split level suburban home, PTA membership, cookie baking and being a “stay at home” Mother may seem trite, condescending. personally limiting and trivial by today’s 20/30-something married couples; but was quite coveted and desirable in the late 1960’s and 1070’s.
The day my Father traded off my Mother’s beloved 1966 Ford Country Sedan station wagon for a full sized van, without telling her, made for some cold, tense days in our New Orleans home in late August. I observed the silent, cold fury of an insulted, furious American housewife for months after that unfortunate car decision!
That was so common then. My best friend’s father traded in his wife’s 64 Valiant convertible (which she genuinely loved) on something else without telling her. She cried. I cannot even imagine showing up at home with a new set of keys for Mrs. JPC without her being part of the decision. We really have come a long way.
Mom was not a crier or a screamer; but she made her intense displeasure & fury with Dad’s decision made in other ways: narrow eyed dirty looks, door slamming, burnt dinners (for my Father only, my food was always well cooked and delicious!), noisy dishwasher unloading as Dad was slumped over his morning coffee, wrinkled clothing for Dad only, and a deliberate (I’m sure) triangle shaped iron burn in his favorite shirt.
I quickly learned from observance that anger, disappointment and sarcasm is not always expressed verbally.
Although he remained the unchallenged “King of his castle”, Dad NEVER purchased another family car without consulting my Mother.
1972 started the development of the “Woman’s Liberation” movement in our household.
Mom will still occasionally joke about that purchase; but with a certain foreboding glint in her eye as she does so.
So then we can agree that “that was America” rather than “that isAmerica”?
I enjoy wallowing in nostalgia too, but I wouldn’t want to go back to a time where women’s cars were taken away and replaced without their consent (my dad indulged in that too). And obviously, that’s just the very benign tip of the iceberg, in terms of white, male dominance back then. No thanks….
Working at a dealer, it still amazes me how common it is for husbands come in and buy a car for their wife without her coming in to test drive or even see the car in person before the sale is complete. Even several of my mother’s friends’ husbands still do this. I can understand the rationale behind this, but in today’s day and age with so much information out there on true pricing, it seems so outdated.
To a degree, car buying in our house is male dominated. Being a car guy, and knowing that I’m the person that will be responsible for everything related to upkeep, my wife looks to me for my judgment and input. Especially as our last few vehicles have been deemed to accommodate family hauling and towing issues over anything else.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t insist on offering her final approval on these purchases. I also offer as much test driving as she wants, but she usually declines.
When I helped with her first purchase after college, and well before kids, she was very active in picking her ’89 Thunderbird. But, she also made sure that with my long legs and big feet that I’d be comfortable in what we picked. We initially looked at compact cars, but the T-Bird was SO much nicer it wasn’t hard for her to consider an upgrade. Still, we were shopping late model used, and she was on a business trip when our Ford dealer called and said he had a fresh trade I needed to see.
He was right, I called my wife and she said “buy it!” Sight unseen.
The next car will likely be “hers.” And, we may not need yet another three row wagon / CUV / SUV. I think she really would like to get a sedan.
I think it depends on the context. About 15 years ago, my wife started frequently pointing out a then new model. She normally showed little interest in cars. Then her parents bought a similar car and she drove it and liked it. Still no mention of actually wanting one, and we had two fine cars. But I took a chance, and a few days before Christmas I bought one online, new, sight unseen, and had it delivered to our home. I did pick the trim and color. I stuck a big red ribbon on it and hid it in the garage and crossed my fingers until she got home from work. Nearly 15 years later, that New Beetle Turbo, white with black leather and 5 speed, is still in our fleet. It’s her daily driver and if I even hint at getting a more practical or reliable car, I’ll be in the doghouse.
To people who view a car as transportation and nothing more, maybe it’s not as big a deal. My wife is kind of that way–when I purchased a new car in 2011, which was going to be much more for her use than mine, the basic extent of her input was “two doors, not too big, automatic, doesn’t require premium gas”. The rest was up to me. Once I had selected a car I made sure she test drove it before signing on the dotted line, to make sure that she liked the seats and how it drove. But she was content with letting me do the research and make the choice for her to approve or veto. This is rather out of character for her–so I guess it could be that as a “car guy” she felt the choice was more in my area of expertise than hers.
Also pertinent to that story is that we kept her old car (which I took over) and traded mine in. So, had she really hated it, she could have gone back to drivng her old car. I don’t think she’d take kindly at all to me trading her car in without telling her!
Around 1990 Dad decided he wanted to get a 5th wheel trailer and truck, and sold the ’85 Jetta GLI him and I had gotten her a year or so before. He wanted me to go with him and look at it. It was a used smaller unit, and came with a Chevy S10 as a towing vehicle. He stressed that he did have permission to buy it from her, but the dirty looks and silent treatment he was getting from her when I came over to pick him up gave me doubts. He bought it, had some work done to it, even had a fence put in the back yard with a sliding gate for it. She looked pissed when we came home with it, but said nothing. Finally, he decided to take it on a trip. I was there when she told him, I said you could buy it, I never said I would go with you anywhere in it. It was sold not long after, never being used by him.
The parents of one of my best friends in Junior High had just bought a new ’68 Country Squire when I first met him. Their older wagon, a ’64 Fairlane sans DiNoc, became the dad’s car and his mom drove the Country Squire. Yellow, white walls, wood grain, acres of room in the “way back”, and that cool tailgate. Although I came from an “import” family, and my other best friend’s parents had a Fintail and then added a W115, I secretly thought the Country Squire was a stunning car.
So true about the socioeconomic status marker aspect. I well remember growing up in the mid to late 70’s. A families economic status could be accurately read by the trim level of their Ford wagon. In my neighborhood, the aspiring had the Ranch Wagon with, of course, no wood. The securely middle class had the entry level Country Squire sans the power windows and rear facing seats and often with vinyl seats and no metal interior trim. The upper middle class usually a lawyer or doctor headed family would have the highest trim level Squire with the cloth velvet seats, power windows and those great rear facing seats for the kids. I do remember being driven to school in a Chevy Kingswood, but that was an outlier in the quite economically diverse suburb I grew up in. Ford wagons were the family standard.
This same phenomenon exists today, but with full-size Ford pickups.
A few weeks ago, in my wife’s small western Pennsylvania hometown, I sat in the car while my wife went to the grocery store. There were three fairly new Ford pickups parked in the lot. Each one was a different trim level, and each one thus sent a different message about the owner’s socioeconomic status.
With the modern GM pickups, the dividing line is between the Chevrolet and GMC pickups, with the more upscale buyers opting for a GMC Sierra. Which is also the way things worked in the late 1960s and 1970s in our suburban neighborhood. People who wished to move beyond a basic full-size Chevrolet wagon tended to skip the most expensive Chevrolet and drive a Buick, Oldsmobile or Pontiac wagon.
Very true on the GMC vs. Chevrolet on pickups.
Yesterday, after Paul’s post about the Subaru, I got curious and googled to see what was the best selling vehicle by state. The F-150 was the best selling in about fifteen or so states, but the GMC Sierra was the best seller in one of the New England states – I’m thinking either Vermont or New Hampshire.
Wow, I looked at that map. Interesting the way they bunch together, and how the Chevy Silverado clusters in the upper midwest. Of course, there is a plant that builds them in Fort Wayne and Ford doesn’t have much of a manufacturing presence in the state, so it should reason.
And how odd is it that where so much of the country counts a Silverado, an F Series or a Ram as the best seller, Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas are all Toyota Camry country. There go a few preconceived notions.
That map probably looked a bit different in 2009-2010. Truck sales have exploded in the past couple of years; the manufacturers are pushing their car production to Mexico so they can build more trucks here. Ford won’t be building ANY passenger cars here within a couple of years. Chrysler’s headed the same way.
Toyota has a huge Corolla factory a few miles north of Tupelo, Mississippi, and I’m wanting to say there is a Camry factory somewhere in the South, but somebody else will know that better than I. Like you theorize, that is likely one of the contributions toward their popularity.
Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, and Kia are the predominant “cars” of choice in the Carolinas, even for the natives. Pickup trucks and SUVs from American brands are still popular with the folks who go for those.
I travel to Michigan a couple of times a year to see family and always notice the lack of Japanese and European brands on the road in the Midwest, particularly Michigan. I don’t see this anywhere else I travel.
Toyota has a huge factory in Georgetown KY, Nissan has a huge factory in TN, Hyundai and Kia have factories in Alabama and Georgia IIRC. I live about 4 miles from BMW’s factory here in upstate SC. There are numerous suppliers and such as well here. Delta runs multiple direct flights to Detroit everyday from Greenville Spartanburg International Airport due to all of the auto related business travel.
The point is for the last 30 years a lot of people in the South have been increasingly been getting their bread buttered by foreign based auto companies and their related suppliers so there is generally not a lot of “buy American” sentiment despite the overall conservatism of the region.
geeber: maybe in your part of the world. But ever since modern financing with long-terms and low interest rates, I actually often see the inverse. When the economy is good, I see lots of folks with modest-paying jobs willing to pay a few bucks extra each month to buy the more expensive truck. (of course, many who did that before the last recession then had to give them up when they lost their jobs).
On the other hand, the folks here with solid, secure white collar jobs often drive a Prius or some other Toyota, or a Subaru; cars that cost about half of a well-trimmed truck.
This phenomena has of course gone on for a very long time. I first noticed it when we moved to Baltimore and I saw so many Cadillacs sitting in front of inner-city row houses. There were hardly any Cadillacs in Towson where we lived, where all the doctors and lawyers lived.
Certainly times and regional differences apply, but In just about any nearby medical facility parking lots I see a lot of Mercedes, Lexus, BMW and the occasional Tesla.
The days when a Buick was known as a “Doctors Car” seem to be long gone.
That may explain some of the bills I get.
Sad but true. I probably shouldn’t be profiling, but I see so many young and/or low income looking people driving new, dealer-lifted (i.e. $1000 worth of cheap wheels and tires and a cheap lift kit, sold for $8K) four wheel drive crew cab trucks that I see advertised for $50K plus. And then there’s the price of filling the tank …
Some of that can probably be explained in that a fancy new car is an indulgence that is more in reach than most, given that long-term low-interest financing you speak of. If you’re a person of modest means, you may not be able to afford a fancy house or condo, given the higher credit standards, down payments, and generally large sums of money involved. You may not be able to afford a fancy overseas vacation, as you’re probably not sitting on a cash pile, and financing that all at credit card interest rates is obviously unwise. However, given the somewhat slack standards for vehicle financing, your recent raise just may be enough to put you in that Z71 Silverado you’ve been eyeing. (Or that Mustang GT, or that A3…) And while you’ll be paying it off for the next 7 years, and may have to sell (or let the repo man take it) if your job circumstances change, you’ll feel like a million bucks tooling down the road in your shiny new ride. It may not be a good long-term financial decision but I can’t say I haven’t felt the allure from time to time.
The only Mercury station wagons close to being as “fine as the Lincoln Continental” were the 1959 and 1960 Colony Park models. They had the overall length and width sizes, the same engines, spacious interiors and with full power equipment, passed for a good facsimile of at least a regular Lincoln Capri or Premiere of those years in station wagon form.
JPC’s comments are spot on.
Just having a wagon in the ’60s was a luxury, they were quite a bit more expensive then their respective sedans. And, buyers generally expected them to have interiors you could hose out (not quite literally, but close enough).
Luxury wagons sold in such small numbers that tooling up a cohesive luxury interior accommodating the unique rear seats, etc., would have been an expensive proposition.
In 1965, the last year for Chrysler’s New Yorker station wagon, the 9 passenger wagon started at $5,033. The New Yorker sedan started at $4204. That’s a 20% premium for the wagon. The 1965 entry level Cadillac Calais started at $5,059. When you bought a luxury wagon in the ’60s, people knew you were paying through the nose.
Chrysler sold only about 2,000 New Yorker wagons in ’65, and then followed the trend where wagons were given their own model name – to allow it to be built from the parts bin in a unique configuration – prestigious but practiacal. The Town & Country was named in ’66, and that name still sits on a sort of unique luxury “wagon.”
The ’66 Colony Park started well below Lincoln pricing at $3,502, but was still the second most expensive Mercury behind the ultra rare S-55 performance convertible. Add the third seat option, and it was probably the most expensive Mercury.
Eventually, market preferences changed, and by the ’80s, Ford in particular was putting sedan worthy interiors into their big wagons.
But, in the 1960s, the Mercury Colony Park was the Lincoln Continental of wagons. More than a few were likely garaged next to a Continental.
I’m assuming that’s why my grandfather purchased used wagons when his five children were little. My mother remembers him going through several used wagons before buying a ’66 Bel Air wagon, his first ever brand new car. Not as spartan as a Biscayne, but by no means a top-of-the-line.
I thought about the premium for wagons when I read the COAL over the weekend…
When the writer talked about how the previous young lady owner could not handle the stripper beast of a wagon lacking power steering, I thought “who would buy such a car new.”
Big families with hungry kiddos.
For the price of that Bel-Air wagon, the original buyer could have probably moved up to an Impala sedan with power steering, brakes, and maybe a down payment on AC. Which is exacly what my parents did. With three kids, they made due with a ’68 Impala sedan. They looked at wagons on their car buying excursions, but the frugal side of my dad meant a wagon was not going to happen.
I thought the same thing regarding who would buy a stripper wagon new in the 60’s. How could Sally Housewife run around town in a massive car with no power steering?
The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that Sally Housewife never drove this car. In the 60’s in this part of Canada you were lucky to have one car let alone two. If you had a big brood of kids, you bought the cheapest wagon available; a Bel Air. This was the fancy car, as it cost more than a Biscayne sedan but most importantly could haul all 9+ members of the family.
Agree that the stripper wagon was likely the car of the guy with the big family. I had an aunt that never had a license until my uncle passed. She obviously didn’t car how their cars drove.
The fancy wagons that were on my street were in two car families.
The difference between a Bel-Air and Biscayne was fairly minimal. The Biscayne was mostly meant for police and taxi fleet buyers. The Impala was trimmed rather nicely, and the Caprice took big Chevies to a new level of luxury. However, in keeping with the ’60s need for practical wagon interiors, Caprice wagons made due with what was mostly an Impala level vinyl interior.
How true, in my neighbourhood I can’t think of any family who had two cars including the gentleman who worked for Northern Affairs. He had three daughters and over time bought a mid-fifties Buick sedan, then a Frontenac followed by a 65 Ford Galaxie four door hardtop. I don’t want too call him frugal as they lived in a nice split level. No wagon for their family although I’m sure they could have afforded one.
Another point was that back then among that demographic, Dad drove the nice car and Mom got the “second car”. If there was a wagon, you could bet that Mom would usually be the one driving it on a day to day basis, so while it had to be nice enough, there was certainly no call to get one in the luxury class. I saw that dynamic play out in families all up and down our street. My father was the exception because the wagon was a company car, so he had to be the one to drive it.
A station wagon was always viewed as “Mom’s car” in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The husband usually had a “sporty” 2 door car for his usage.
I suspect my Father was vaguely embarrassed to be seen driving Mom’s station wagon, he constantly knocked it and grumbled about it during our many road trips. He prolly thought of it as “Girly” and “unmanly” and “henpecking”. I suspect this might be one of the reasons he dumped it without consulting with my Mother.
Exactly the same on our street – also with the exception being company cars. One guy was an HVAC engineer and drove a stripper company Galaxie while the wife wheeled their New Yorker Brougham. But, on weekends, Jack would be flying down the street, all windows open, in that NYB hardtop.
Mrs. Price drove ’65 and ’72 Country Squires while her husband dabbled in Mercedes sedans.
The older ladies without kids started to dabble in mid-size cars, usually two doors, while no self respecting guy on our street made due with less than full-size.
The exception with my grandfather was that my grandmother never had a driver’s license. His car was the only car, and with a minimum of 7 people in the house at that point, a station wagon was the only option. By the mid-1970s when his children were driving and entering their 20s, he was able to switch to sedans and coupes.
It was reverse in my family; Dad always drove the Squire, Mom drove (over the years) an Impala, Bug, & Satellite.
Those taillights look almost embarrassingly 1963 Pontiac-esque.
More like Continental II and 61-65 Lincoln. Pontiac should be the embarrassed one.
Beautiful looking car. I’ve always liked the 1964-1968 Mercury Colony Park. I like the 64-66 best because it has an easier to read instrument cluster. Instead of stupid “idiot” warning lights, it had proper gauges for temperature, battery, and oil pressure. 🙂
Agree! I was most disappointed when the Mercury Grand Marquis lost it’s dashboard full of “needles and numbers” gauges in 2006.
The minivan / CUV of the 1960s, wrapped up in a more attractive package than any minivan or CUV ever thought of having.
It’s a Mercury, so of course I’m liking what I’m seeing. While the color isn’t the most flattering for the year, it is still something I would drive – after giving it a little metal work.
Brendan, I did happen to look up percentages of manual transmissions in full-sized Mercurys a while back; it was in the low single digits and I think that included the four-speeds.
That’s a good point about standard equipment on all but the highest priced cars in the ’60s.
By the time you loaded a Colony Park to Lincoln standards, you were getting into Lincoln price territory.
IIRC the 410 was not even available in the Ford. Wasn’t it one of the old M-E-L engines ?
The 410 was in the FE family and only offered in Mercury for a few years. It was a 390 bore with a 428’s longer stroke.
The ’66-’67 410 was a Mercury exclusive, but it was basically a stroked Ford 390.
FoMoCo “experts” tell me the 410 was a torque monster, like the 390, but even more of a power house dog than the stock 390 was.
Does anybody know where the Colony Park name came from? Was it an actual place at the time or just a made up name that sounded upscale?
S-J-C, I always figured it was referencing this spot in tony Benton Harbor, MI—though not widely known outside of MI the way (maybe) “Traverse City” or (surely) “Mackinac Island” are as resort/getaway places:
My dad always had the hand-me-down car…he was a professor at a small private university and didn’t want to look too prosperous, lest the Jesuits think he was making too much money. My mom always had the newish Oldsmobile sedan and my dad drove either the older Olds, or a crappy little economy car. The only station wagon they ever owned was a 68 VW Squareback (type III variant).
The only station wagon I can think of on our street was an early 70s Olds Vista Cruiser…everybody else drove sedans.
Very nice. A pre emissions woodgrain wagon. I have a ’72 Pinto woodgrain wagon, but it would be nice to have a larger one, with a V8. It looks like most of the rust is near the back end. Fortunately, these cars used BOF construction, so the rust is not likely structural. Unfortunately, no pre made panels are available for this car, so they would have to be hand fabricated. There is usually a lot more rust on the back side than what you can see on the outside. If the frame and body are straight, the interior is decent, and it doesn’t need to much mechanical work, it is definitely worth restoring. That car, as it sits, would go for $10,000+ here in Phoenix. An acquaintance recently bought a rusty ’62 Falcon wagon with a ratty interior, missing windshield, and seized engine for $4000. American wagons are highly collectible around here, especially 1966 and older ones, that do not have to be emissions tested.
ah,the mercuries make me think of Dad He went to work at the Mercury plant in Hazelwood
Missouri was there over thirty years never a brand new car until he retired.
Just watching Dean Martin Matt Helm film from 1966 and he’s driving one of these and it looks gorgeous with the sharp from end!
Life in USA in 66 must have been wonderful.
From the beginning and too often Mercury was just a tarted up Ford. My wife had a ’91 Sable wagon. Nice car. The lights across the front were useful to be seen, otherwise the same as a Taurus. Might have helped to have more bits and pieces from Lincoln, even coming down from earlier years in order to amortize the cost. Ford mostly got the halo cars too, at least at first. When wasn’t Mercury an afterthought? Even when Mercury got it’s own body for the ’49 model year, it was because it was developed to be a Ford. No wonder Mercury is no more.
The article says two way tailgate, but I remember it as three way: flop down, as door window down, or window up. I don’t know if it started that way, and as I remember it, GM only licensed the first two ways before ’77, you still had to lower the window to open the gate on their wagons.
Interesting point about Betty Draper. Mercury wagons in TV period pieces seem to have come into their own with the ’80s ones; The Goldbergs, Young Sheldon and Stranger Things all have box Panther Colony Parks as someone’s mom’s car despite taking place in or near the start of the minivan era. Even before, it felt like the big woodgrained 8-seaters were on their way out and people would get a smaller wagon if they possibly could.
One thing I have noticed about these large Mercurys (thanks to CC) is the A pillars are not trimmed with stainless like the equivalent Fords, which is strange as it exposes that seam at the top of the pillar, I suppose they did that as a point of difference, but the less expensive Ford seems to be more expensively trimmed !!!
I like the look of the chrome trim around the wood on the Mercury better than the wood trim on the Fords. For Ford, I never understood the name Country Sedan. A sedan has a trunk, not a wagon body, to me.
Our next door neighbor in Burlington had Mercuries, a ’63 Comet, then a ’68 Colony Park. I really liked the wind deflector built into the “D” pillars on both sides to keep the rear window clean; the next year, my Dad finally upsized to a ’69 Country Squire, which instead had the deflector built into the rooftop luggage rack (kind of a spoiler, but not really). The luggage rack one I’d guess was ineffective when there was luggage on the roof, so I’d think this older design was more effective since it would work with or without luggage on the roof. Funny thing, I can’t remember the car they had before the Colony Park.
My Dad had a ’65 F85 Wagon before he got the ’69 Squire; he traded the Squire for a ’73 Country Sedan (more loaded than the Squire was). He eventually was to own 3 Mercury Sables in a row, but that wasn’t until the late 80’s…he then finished with 2 Impalas in a row.