Curbside Classic – 1962 Mercury Monterey Custom Sedan: The 20-Footer Club, Part II

I love an old Mercury.  I’ve never owned one, but that’s just a matter of coincidence at this point in my life, and it’s only a matter of time considering my car-hoarding proclivities.  A couple weeks ago, by way of a ’64 Cutlass, I promulgated the virtues of the “20 footer,” a car whose appearance gently but decisively deteriorates upon approach.  The 20 footer is everywhere, God bless it.  Right in town was this ’62 Monterey that looked great from the road and even greater up close, if you’re a fan of that kind of thing.

A ’62 Monterey is not quite the Mercury of my dreams.  For example, I’d prefer a Breezeway (’63-’65).

Or a ’65 Comet Villager…

Or a ’67 Cougar…

That’s all personal preference, however, and takes nothing away from the Monterey magic.  I’ll confess that the Monterey is perhaps more of a 30 footer, but let’s take a walkaround anyway.

After reading J P Cavanaugh’s recent posts about the automotive history of white paint, I’ve begun to notice the subtle variations in shades of white.  In this case, there was no need, because only one white was available on the ’62 Mercury – Sultana White – otherwise known as Wimbledon White in the Ford line.  This corner of the Monterey looks pretty good, but there’s a little rust at the bottom of the driver’s door, not uncommon in Michigan.  Please notice how awesome the fender-mounted mirror is.  The hubcaps have that 1960s “more time was spent designing this than you realize; do you realize the manufacturing difficulties of these things?” look, and the chrome and stainless trim are quite serviceable.  Not a bad start.

Uh-oh.  You know the interior smells bad.  Original upholstery is going to be expensive, so throw a blanket over that front bench, reinstall the missing door hardware, and drive on.

This is my favorite part of the ’62 Mercury – those goofy looking “afterburners.”  Up close, notice the specks of rust and failing paint – get this thing inside a garage before it gets any worse – it’s perfect right now!  Ford maintained its focus on jet imagery longer than other makes; rocket-inspired taillights only lasted until 1964 on the Mercury, and they were toned down significantly by that time.  Ford used big round taillights all the way through 1965 on the Falcon.

The 1962 Chrysler is sometimes called a “plucked chicken,” since its fins were shorn from the otherwise similar ’61 models.  The ’62 Mercury looks similarly bereft, although I still like the look.

What do you think?

Here’s another look at those cool taillights (oops, this one’s broken) and the gradual wear and tear that make this Monterey a 20 (or 30) footer.

This “bleeding rust” could probably be cleaned up with a little effort at trim and emblem removal.  American cars from the 1950s and 1960s were and are often derided for their “gratuitous” trim, but it often gives a car a character of its own.  An altered trim piece is enough of a clue for any car guy to identify an old car’s year of manufacture.  If you wanted to be cynical about it, you could say that the slight difference in trim between, say, a 1955 and a 1956 Plymouth Belvedere was a condescending attempt to make a buyer think the same car was new, but I think little stuff like that is fun, and it’s important to have fun with your hobbies.

Walking around the passenger side, we can again see that this Mercury seems to have its original upholstery, but once again, it’s badly worn in general, and hypothetical on the driver’s seat.

According to the brochure, the Monterey Custom came standard with the old 292 Y-Block; by 1962, the Y-Block was only eight years old yet nearing the end of its lifespan.  I didn’t look under the hood of our featured car because there was no evidence that it was for sale, but one of three displacements of FE engines could also be found under the hood of a Monterey Custom, ranging from a 352 all the way to a 406 with three two barrels.  This one does not have the 406; it was a four-speed-only engine option.

Thus concludes our walkaround of this neat old Mercury.  A ’62 Monterey is most likely nobody’s dream car, but a solid old sedan like this is always worth looking at.  As old biases against four doors begin to fade away, this car and others like it could make somebody with a little cleaning time and ambition very happy, and maybe that person is the current owner.  While it may not be a Breezeway, or a Comet Villager, or a Cougar, it’s a proud member of the 20-footer club in my book.

Related Reading:

Junkyard Heirloom Gallery: 1962 Mercury Monterey Commuter Station Wagon by Jim Klein

Curbside Classic: 1962 Mercury Monterey Custom – No Respect by J P Cavanaugh (This car is eerily similar to the one I found!)

QOTD and Car Show Classics: 1962 and 1970 Mercury Convertibles–If the Owner Traded up Every Eight Years, What’s Next?