It’s a dark night, in late 1968. Winter’s chill is beginning to be felt in the air. You’re in your brand new ’68 Dodge Charger after having had a load of fun at a just-concluded social gathering. Sitting beside you is a sweet little thing you just met. She is eager to go somewhere for further festivities, and you even more so. She’s built like a brick privy and has a great personality to boot. It’s a win-win!
Suddenly you see two revolving red lights in your rear view mirror. Shit! This could get ugly. You pull over to the shoulder of the road.
What is this? He’s not driving a Ford, Chevrolet or even a Dodge. What the hell…he’s in a Mercury???
Why the surprise? After all, hot rodders constantly pursuiing more power and speed had been transplanting Mercury engines into Fords since Mercury came into existence in 1939. Even Ford did it it briefly in the 1950’s when they built cars specifically for cops.
So why not use a Mercury engine in a Mercury?
During the 1960s, many state law enforcement agencies had a minimum requirement for wheelbase length, typically 122 to 124 inches. Contemporary Fords literally fell short, as the wheelbase on a 1968 Galaxie spanned only 119 inches. Thus, a 1968 Mercury riding a 123″ wheelbase met this standard while retaining the selling points of Ford reliability and durability.
The rationale for such a long wheelbase reflected the perception that length equaled stability. When you had to chase a new Charger at triple-digit speeds, you didn’t want your chariot getting squirrelly–never mind that your steed might be as long as a wagon track.
The 123-inch wheelbase debuted in the new generation of Mercurys introduced in 1965.
It was at this time that Mercurys started being used more frequently (but not widely) as law-enforcement vehicles. Indiana was one state that saw advantages in doing so. (Click here for more information on the car pictured below.)
Perhaps I’m biased– my pen name was Jack Lord, after all–but this ’68 Mercury is one of the best-looking Ford Motor Company products of the 1960s. It is a very nice and tasteful blend of obvious Ford influences (such as the window frames) and distinct Lincoln traits (the slab sides and front-fender pinnacles). In an article on the ’71 Monterey from earlier (here), I opined that Mercury was at its most autonomous, styling-wise, during the late ’60s and early ’70s. I present this ’68 Mercury in support of my position; it is neither a tarted-up Ford nor an unembellished Lincoln. It is a Mercury.
It’s a shame that eventually, the formula would be destroyed.
For model year 1968, Mercury built 30,727 Monterey sedans like this one. Mercury sold 55,000 of all body styles of this full-size base series. The mid-level Montclair was the least popular big Mercury, with a sales total of only 15,000 two- and four-door hardtops and four-door sedans. Production of the top-end Park Lane was just over 20,000 units, including 1,112 convertibles.
It’s unknown how many full-sized Mercurys were built for law enforcement. However, there is one black Park Lane that long ago was presented as being in police use, and it is argued to be the most photographed Mercury of all time. It should look familiar to anyone even remotely familiar with ’70s-era American television!
This particular Monterey is privately owned, and a replica of what was used by the Missouri State Highway Patrol back in the day. It’s equipped with a 428 cu in (7.0-liter) V8 rated at 340 gross horsepower, Mercury’s top engine offering in 1968.
The standard engine in the full-sized Mercury was a 390 cubic inch (6.5 liter) V8. The 390 was rated at 265 horsepower if equipped with a manual transmission and 280 horsepower if mated to an automatic. As an oddity, the 390 was rated at 315 horsepower when installed in the upscale Park Lane.
Another oddity for a ’68 Mercury was the availability of a fully synchronized, three-speed manual transmission in both the Monterey and Montclair. This was an infrequently chosen item, with only 0.4% of full-sized Mercurys so equipped. It is also interesting to note that 99.2% of full-sized 1968 Mercurys had power steering, so it looks like cheapskates preferred to spring for an an automatic transmission before power steering. This is a lot of car for Armstrong Steering.
The Missouri Highway Patrol continued to use Mercurys throughout the 1970s, and into the early 1980s with the Panther platform Marquis. There is a pristine ’78 Marquis patrol car at the highway patrol museum in Jefferson City. It is presented as the last full-sized car used by the agency.
I found this Monterey at the Missouri State Fair, as part of a public display of equipment by the highway patrol. Click on the picture to better see what the placard says about this particular ’68 Monterey.
Here’s something to ponder on. In my first paragraph, I referred to a ’68 Charger being pulled over by this Mercury. Chargers were pretty popular muscle cars, but times appear to have gone full circle. Parked next to the featured Mercury was this determined-looking Dodge…
I know a retired Marion County, Indiana, sheriff’s deputy. He joined the force in ’68. We talked one day about the different cars he drove while serving and when I asked him which one was his favorite, he didn’t hesitate: it was his ’71 Mercury. He said it was hands down the fastest car he ever drove, and handled a bit better than you’d expect for a beast so large and powerful.
I caught a picture of a retired 71 Mercury Sheriff’s car here last summer.
Wait. I think I recognize the Imperial in one of the other shots. I think your mechanic is next door to my mechanic, in Home Place.
You would be correct. I have been going to Matthews Auto Repair for several years. The place with the old cars is across the street, and its always fun to see what kind of old stuff the owner has there. Which one do you go to? Small world.
Brad at J&M, in the fake-brickface-and-black-painted-plywood former gas station on the corner, keeps my car running. My previous car toasted its 5-speed tranny, and he sent me to Matthews for that job, as it was too big for him. Matthews did a fine job.
I owned a retired ’68 Monterey police interceptor back in 1974-77 and it was one of the best cars I ever owned. That 428 was great to listen to, but when gas went way up, I couldn’t afford to use it for basic transport. I wish I could have kept it. It was a great ride.
Our next-door Neighbors when we were living in Burlington VT. had the station-wagon version of this car (a ’68 Colony Park I think) they bought the same year my father bought his Renault R-10. I remember they pulled a boat trailer with it and riding with them to Mallets Bay sometimes (one of their 4 sons was my best friend at the time). It had a big round speedometer, and the “Mercury” dude with the weird hat was prominent on several areas on the vehicle. My Dad bought a 69 Ford Country Squire the next year….yes wagons were pretty popular in our neighborhood…replacing his 65 Olds F85 wagon (no Vista Cruiser for us).
They also had an early-60’s Mercury (think it was a Comet) when we moved in next to them in the mid-60’s, I guess they liked Mercurys, they kept both cars (with teenage drivers in their family starting to take over driving on the Comet) by that time.
I got a kick out of the part about options and how few percentage were manual transmission and steering. I guess for large cars by that time (not sure when it went over 50%, probably some time in the 50’s) it became the default. For heavy cars, I can see power steering would be pretty much a no-brainer unless you didn’t do much parking or low-speed manuvering. I still drive a manual (though a small car, obviously it isn’t even possible to get manual on large car now), but I never got to drive 3 on the tree, or even a manual on a car with a foot-operated parking brake…to me, the latter would be concerning unless the brake had an automatic release when starting on a hill, I’m so used to using the lever-operated parking brake on a steep hill (maybe if you’re very quick with the clutch you can avoid going back much, watch out for that car parked right near your bumper though) so I’ve never had to “reach down” to find the parking brake release lever when trying to modulate the gas and the clutch on a steep hill on a car with manual and foot-operated parking brake (something like Subaru’s “hill-holder” system sounds like it would be handy for this, though I can’t claim I’ve ever driven a car with that setup to see how effective it would be.
Very nice cars…this was likely the heyday for Mercury, with Edsel gone several years they were established as the “higher end” of the Ford lineup (except for Lincoln) which they kept going another 40 plus years till recently.
Quodpod, do you still have family members living in Burlington, VT? I’m originally from the state – I know Malletts Bay very well because I went to St. Michael’s College, in nearby Winooski Park.
Also, a question about the Monterey – was that the same car Jack Lord drove on Hawaii Five-O?
Not related to the Mercury discussion, but I haven’t lived in Burlington VT area for more than 30 years now…my brother in law is originally from Colchester, and I was going to say I had no relatives there but I remembered my niece just moved back to Burlington from Groton, Ct, so I guess I do have relatives there now.. I went to UVM decades ago (when they still had engineering program)….we lived in Burlington in the ’60s and nearby Shelburne in the 70’s (we lived in Virginia too for 5 years in-between, back when my Father was still moving around a lot)
Yes, I think the original Hawaii 50 TV series had Jack Lord in a ’68 Monterey for at least part of the series run
Jack Lord drove a ’68 Park Lane hardtop sedan, although the 1967 pilot (and some quick “getaway” stock shots) shows him in a ’67 Park Lane coupe. Black with red interior, vs. the ’68 that was black/black. Sometimes continuity errors would occur as Jack is shown jumping into the hardtop coupe (red pleated vinyl seats very much visible) as he speeds out of Iolani Palace and then he’s speeding down either Beretania or King (when it was two-way), or Ala Moana and suddenly it’s the black 4 door ’68!
Also Jack/McGarrett gets the first parking space out front – not even then Governor Jack Burns got the best parking space – (Iolani Palace served as the Capitol until the current Capitol building was finished in ’69). Iolani Palace is now rightly a restored museum finished inside exactly as it was during the reign of the last monarch of the sovereign kingdom of Hawaii (Queen Lydia Kamaka’eha Paki Lili’uokalani).
Anyone whos a Five-O fan and a car fan will take note, that due to some sort of time travel that occours only in Hawaii can McGarrett leave the Ioliani Palace in a 74 Mercury, been seen driving a 68 Mercury only to arrive at the crime seen in a 74 Mercury again.
Steve McGarret’s car was a ’68 Park Lane, just a higher trim level than the Monterey. This trim was renamed ‘Marquis’ for 1969. So in effect, he drove a 1968 version of “Grand Marquis LS”.
> the “Mercury” dude with the weird hat
That is Mercury, the Roman messenger god. Mercury the automobile was named after “the Mercury dude”.
As are Mercury outboards…
Not to mention Freddie Mercury…
He is also known as “the fireman”. At least in a couple of years Ford tied Mercury in with the planet named for the god selling them as “The Hot Ones” and IIRC showing pictures of the planet in the back ground. That also tied in with the celestial inspired Comet and Meteor model names.
The “Mercury dude” was actually on the money back in 1938 when the Mercury brand was launched.
Mercury Dude was revived briefly on the Panther bodied Marauder. I like Mercury dude!! Mondo cool!!
The logo for FTD flower deliveries is ‘Mercury’, too. Wings on his head.
I mastered the foot operated parking brake, first gear launch with my ’83 Dodge D-100 Slant Six pickup. Litmus test was before my Dad retired, and I was stationed on a Coast Guard Cutter out of Alameda, I’d sometimes swing by into the City (San Francisco). His office was on 666 California Street near Grant. We were driving to Petaluma which meant west up high on California Street to hit Van Ness Blvd (U.S. 101). The “Top of the Mark” (Mark Hopkins Hotel) and the Fairmont are at the tippy-top of the crest (by Hyde). 38% grade and some bright individual put (still has) a stop sign at the top of the hill. You mess up, you roll backwards to Oakland!!
Until I fix the (umbrella type) handbrake in my ute I have been doing a bit of heel & toe action if on a slope, otherwise just pick up the throttle quickly – the clutch is the easy part.
The cable frayed and jammed where it passes through the firewall, of course it had to happen on a camping trip a long way from anywhere. Luckily I was able to release the handbrake manually under the vehicle, otherwise I had the cutters ready!
I love the 68 Mercury – it is one of my favorite FoMoCo cars of the 60s. A family friend had a 68 Montclair 2 door fastback hardtop that I really loved at the time. I recall the big round speedo – it was interesting to me because it was very three dimensional – the base of the needle was inset quite deeply. A friend’s 68 Cougar used the same style of speedo. My mother drove the Montclair occasionally, but hated it because it did not have power brakes.
The 2 different power ratings on the 390 were whether the engine was a 2 barrel/regular gas/single exhaust version or the one with the 4 barrel/premium gas/dual exhaust. The low output 390 came out in 1967, probably to fill the hole left when the 352 got the axe, and I don’t believe that the 351 came along until 1969. The low output 390 was the one in my 67 Galaxie convertible – gobs of torque and with a 2:70 axle, it was pretty economical on the highway. I take it that the 410 was out of the lineup by 1968?
If I recall, I had a Matchbox version of this car as a kid – a white squad car just like this one.
About a year ago, I saw a light green 68 Monterey convertible for sale. I was tempted, but fortunately the guy wanted way too much for it.
Was the 68 the last year with the Roman messenger god Mercury on the car? I think that both he and Chief Pontiac got fired from their cars at about the same time.
On further reflection, I think that Chief Pontiac got fired several years before Mercury did.
A ’67 Bonneville I used to own had the “Chief Pontiac” bright light indicator.
Chief Pontiac lived on through 1970; he was the “high beam indicator” by then.
Actually (and I had to check my memory against the old brochure for this), the low-output 390 was the standard engine on full-size Mercs at least since ’64. The choices in ’64 were 2 bbl/single exhaust/8.4 compression ratio with 250 hp, 2 bbl/single/9.4 cr with 266 hp, 4bbl/dual/10:1 with 300 hp (standard on Park Lane), and 4bbl/dual/10:1/mechanical lifters with 330 hp.
My dad’s ’64 was the first time in his life he sprang for auto trans and power steering (both at the, mmm, urging of my mom). Mom learned to drive on a manual back in the 30’s, but by this point in her life (age 49) she really didn’t enjoy having to drive one.
I have never been well-versed in the Mercury variants of 60s FoMoCo engines. I stand corrected, and I also now know that the low output 390 was in 66 Fords too, making all of 25 more horsepower more than the 352. No wonder the 352 got axed.
Also often the larger capacity version of the same engine will be just as or more economical in the real world.
Matchbox replaced its 1965 Ford Galaxie police car with a police car based on this Mercury. It was right before Matchbox made the transition to Superfast wheels, so a mint Mercury police car with the “regular wheels” is fairly valuable.
Matchbox also offered a station wagon version of this car in light green with two dogs looking out the tailgate. Matchbox really liked Fords during the 1960s – both American and British. This was probably because the Ford nameplate would be familiar to children in Great Britain, the United States and Germany, which were the three biggest markets for Matchbox at that time.
The 1968 Mercurys are very nice cars, but the division seemed to hit its stride with the 1969-70 Marquis. That car had distinctive styling that really was a step up from the Ford Galaxie/LTD. As the market shifted away from performance and toward the Brougham look, Mercury hit its stride as Dodge and Pontiac faltered.
The Matchbox Model That replaced it, The Cougar Villager was a 1 year only model in 1977 for Mercury, it held the place until the mercury sable wagon in white was ready.
It Seems To Me later in the 68 Model year, The Brougham Became known as The Mercury MarQuis, a vinyl roof hardtop, or was that a seperate model…it was prior 2 the new body style.
Are u still interested in buying a 68 Monterey?
Unfortunately, there are two universities that keep coopting my old car funds. They claim to be educating my children with them.
I would be very interested to see a a drag race between this Mercury and a current P71.Something tells me that the P71 would win.
The P71, with its overdrive, would win…apples to oranges, bro
The OD would be of no use in a true drag race. I’d hazard a guess that one of the late 60’s early 70’s versions equipped with that era’s Police Interceptor engine and the right gearing would beat the best of the P71s even with the best available 3.55 gearing in a straight drag race.
Note that the sedan pictured has the “breezeway” window. This is the last year for this feature.
Yes, but it no longer had the unique roofline. The ’67-’68 Breezeway used the same roof as other Mercury sedans. Unfortunately, the window only retracted a couple of inches.
This comment is for the Dodge Charger police car, Here in Brevard County, Florida our sheriff’s department has Impalas, a few new Taurus and the Charger Hemi. The first two are quite pedestrian and don’t raise much excitement for me. However that Charger behind you makes for quite an oh s%&t moment. I spoke to an officer who drove one and he said the Charger is scary fast.
Oh, and “book em Dano”. God bless Jack Lord and the great entertainment he provided. He also did some really great philanthropy for the State of Hawaii.
“During the 1960s, many state law enforcement agencies had a minimum requirement for wheelbase length, typically 122 to 124 inches. Contemporary Fords literally fell short, as the wheelbase on a 1968 Galaxie spanned only 119 inches.”
I’m kind of surprised by that. That actually would have excluded any of the low-priced three (I think Ford, Chevy and Plymouth were all at 119 inches in this era) and even some cars in the lower end of the mid-price market like Dodges and Pontiac Catalinas (which I believe were at 121 inches until the very late ’60s). Besides Mercury, who else had a police package that met the criteria?
When I was a teenager in the ’80s, I don’t recall seeing anything other than Ford, Chevy, Plymouth and Dodge police cruisers. Mercury apparently continued to offer a police package into the ’80s, but I don’t think I ever saw one.
I think that the wheelbase requirement may have been more for state trooper/highway patrol kinds of cars. I always remember Ford/Chevy/Plymouth local squad cars, but Indiana had Buicks for at least one year in the 1950s and also had Chrysler Newports at least once, in addition to the Mercurys.
I do remeber quite vividly the ’69 Mercury Montereys the California Highway Patrol used (for that one year only) along with ’67 Oldsmobile Delmont 88’s (one year only as well).
Billy – Didn’t the CHP use Dodges in 1969 and went to the Mercury in 1970? Then back to the Dodge in 1971. Agree about the ’67 Olds; there was someone down the street that bought an Olds retired from CHP service for years (still in black and white).
CHP had Polaras in ’69 . . . but they also had Montereys. Just for ’69 they ordered the Mercuries.
Ohwonesten, you are correct. CHP had Mercurys for one year only – 1970. Dodges in 1969, then again in 1971.
Other one year CHP wonders were the 1967 Olds Delmont 88 and the 1955 Buick Century.
I know that Pontiac continued to offer (or reintroduced thanks to Smokey and the Bandit) police packages in the 70’s. http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Pontiac/1977%20Pontiac/1977%20Pontiac%20Police%20Cars/1977%20Pontiac%20Police-01.html Note the back page has a partial list of Cities, States, and Counties who purchased Pontiac police cars during 1976.
This is my observation, but Pontiac seemed to use the Police Package to up LeMans sales for 76-77. Never saw any 73-77 Chevelle/Malibu cop cars on TV or on streets.
Almost forgot about Kojak’s ’74 Colonnade Buick cop car!
All GM divisions still had some sort of police package available until the late 70’s at least, I know that Buick still had a police package option for the Century and LeSabre until 75-76, Pontiac and Oldsmobile too, though they were seldom seen, in addition to the LeMans “Enforcer”, similar to the one seen in Smokey and the Bandit, Pontiac also had a Ventura and Catalina “Enforcer” too, I think Pontiac last had a police package around 79-80 or so, probably the same for Oldsmobile too.
Now I vaugely remember seeing ’74 or ’75 Malibu cop cars on some obscure TV show or B movie. Maybe “Walking Tall”?
Ponitacs: On NBC’s “Police Story” TV show, for ’76 season they had some Ventura unmarked cop cars. DeKalb IL had big Ponchos until the last 1981’s.
Olds: In a Chicago suburb, Niles IL had marked Delta 88’s up to 1979.
I remember reading somewhere that, at one point in the 1960s, Dodge actually built a run of cars on a 122-inch wheelbase specifically for law enforcement buyers.
Yes, specifically for the CHP.
Beginning in ’65, Plymouths went up to a 122″ . . .
Are you sure that was not just on the wagons? I was pretty sure that the 65-68 Plymouth was still 119 and that maybe Dodge was 122. I know that Chrysler was 124.
I’d have to double-check, but I’m almost positive the Fury I/II/III and Sport Fury went to 122 . . . divorcing itself from the truncated 116″ of ’62-’64 that cost Plymouth a lot of sales to the “other two.”
Allpar.com is great source!
Yes, the 65 Fury is 119″ wb and 65 Dodge was 121, Chrysler 124.
Buick and Mercury had police packages through 1981, but you rarely saw them. Missouri used LeSabre’s in ’79 (split makes that year) and Mercury’s in ’80 and ’81.
Chrysler had a police package through 1981 (I briefly owned an ’81 LeBaron built as such).
If you can find it, look through “The Encyclopedia of American Police Cars” by Ed Sanow. Loads of pictures and where I pulled some of my information for this article.
Mercury also had a police package Montego during the ’70’s.
The NJ State Police had Chryslers for many years during the ’60’s and ’70’s.
“For model year 1968…Mercury sold 55,000 of all body styles of [the Monterey] series. The mid-level Montclair was the least popular big Mercury, with a sales total of only 15,000….Production of the top-end Park Lane was just over 20,000 units…..”
While 1960s full-size Mercurys were by no means rare, they were relatively poor sellers in a market where full-size cars otherwise held a position of dominance. Mercury’s full-size sales had dipped during the 1958-61 recession, when everybody’s did, but they seemed to be hit harder than most. Then, in 1962-65, when big car sales revived, they seemed to bounce back less well than most. The repeated changes in exactly what part of the midprice market Mercury was aimed at couldn’t have helped. The end result was a car that sold in decent numbers, but not nearly as well as its competitors did, not even in proportion to Mercury’s overall maket size.
In terms of both raw numbers and proportion of overall sales, Mercury’s full-size models typically ranked near the basement among Big Three brands. There were years in which Mercury’s full-sizes weren’t even the best selling Mercury line — something that would have been unthinkable at most other Big Three brands. The only exceptions were Dodge and maybe Plymouth, whose full-size models had never really recovered from the disasterous 1962 downsizing debacle.
Here are 1968 calendar year production figures for full-size cars from each Big Three nonluxury brand, taken from the “Standard Catalog of American Cars”. The numbers that follow are the percentage of that brand’s production represented by full-size cars, and its rank among all car lines if it was in the top ten. After 1965, there was a tendency for full-size car sales to erode, so most of these brands were a bit below where they had been a few years earlier.
Chevrolet 1,217,255 56.7% #1
Pontiac 484,849 51.4% #3
Oldsmobile 331,586 52.0% #9
Buick 384,575 59.0% #6
Ford 961,839 50.3% #2
Mercury 142,048 33.7% not in top 10
Plymouth 279,762 40.9% not in top 10
Dodge 105,671 17.0% not in top 10
Chrysler 263,226 100.0% not in top 10
Full-size cars captured five spots out of the top ten. Four other slots were filled by midsize cars (Ford #4, Chevy #5, Pontiac #7, Dodge #10). Dodge midsize production appears to include the Charger, which some would regard as a distinct line from Dodge’s main midsize model, the Coronet; if the Charger were separated out, the full-size Plymouths would be #10.
The only car in the top ten that was smaller than midsize was the Ford Mustang (#8). This is just domestic production, but the Volkswagen Beetle’s U.S. sales were almost certainly enough to rank it in the top ten, probably even the top five. I doubt that any other single import model would have made the top ten at this point in time.
Interesting statistics. I remember reading that the Fury accounted for over half of Plymouth’s sales in 1968…and Plymouth’s sales were just above 700,000 for the year. The division was a solid fourth in 1968, as the Fury was successful and the Belvedere/Satellite/GTX/Road Runner line scored major sales gains. The laggards were the Barracuda, and – ironic in view of its later importance to the division – the Valiant.
Yeah, full sizers were King in the 60’s, since they were descendants of the common ‘standard cars’ of previous decades.
And Mercury wasn’t huge big car seller, the Comet and Cougar helped them. Back then, though, who would have known the [Grand] Marquis would outlast its competition: Electra, 98, and New Yorker?
Regarding Plymouth, the Fury was one of the ‘low priced 3’ standard cars. Who would have known it would die off? The Valiant was greatly helped by the Duster two years later, and pushed Pontiac from #3 spot.
MCT, thank you for doing the number crunching. I wonder if Mercury’s plight improved for 1969-70. The Marquis seemed to be more competitive, at least from a design standpoint.
The Illinois Tollway used to have separate police force, and they drove Merc Montereys up to 1973. Earliest ones I remember, are 1970 models.
Mercury dealers just wanted in on fleet sales, so they got Police packages. Would have been interesting if they kept them all the way to 2011. “Our Grand Marquis PI is better than the Ford version” they’d have said, “a classier brand!”.
To add, I think the ‘minimum wheelbase’ requirement was to ensure they got the ‘biggest, luxurious’ cruisers.
I would think the claim of a top speed of “140 to 150 mph” highly circumspect.
I wouldn’t be as suspect if it was a 69 440 Polara .
There was a story in a local magazine of a Ford designer who bought the police interceptor prototype/demo car, and proceeded to use it for very rapid trips between Ford’s two factories. He supposedly got picked up at over 150mph and talked his way out of the ticket in those pre-speed limit days on the basis it wasn’t unsafe because he was also driving a highway patrol interceptor. This was a Falcon with a 351, probably Windsor but possibly Cleveland, an FMX trans and at least 3.0 diff gears if not taller. I would have to dig out the magazine to refresh my memory but I’m sure they mentioned 160mph, and a an elapsed time on the highway between Werribee and Geelong that did work out to about 150mph average, which would include transiting a couple of small towns in those days.
I could easily see a well-prepped HWP car with 400+hp doing 150mph. (note the Falcon would not have had 400hp, but it has less frontal area)
Even if the car could go that fast, could the tire technology of the day handle those speeds? Remember that, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, blowouts were pretty common. I wouldn’t want a tire to blow at 150 mph.
If you don’t like the late 60’s Mercuries, Kono will come over and “bus’ up da face lah dat.”
Steve McGarrett is attempting to get a young Carole Kai to take a spin with him in the ’68 Park Lane . . . perhaps dinner at La Marianna Yacht Club on Sand Island or John Dominis at Kakaako.
McGarrett switched to a ‘barge’ 1974 Marquis and drove it til the last show in 1980. [A rare that a show spanned 3 decades]
Would have been cool if he got a 1979/80 Panther Marquis the seasons.
Fun Five-O facts, the last 2 seasons of Hawaii Five-O, the 1979-80 seasons were re-aired on CBS late night for 1981-82 under the name “McGarrett”. Same show, same credits, except “McGarrett” would come out of the wave instead of “Hawaii Five-O”
Magnum P.I and Hawaii Five-O are related, they exist in the same “world”, Magnum P.I came about because CBS was looking for a show that they could film in Hawaii since they already had all the studio and production facilities from Hawaii Five-O, they mention Five-O and McGarrett several times throughout Magnums 7 year run, though I dont believe any Five-O stars ever make any guest spots on Magnum P.I.
“Get it down to the lab Dano and see if Che Fong can make anything of it”
The Diamond Head Studios in Kaimuki near the crater park still exist. They were built exclusively for the original Five-O production and used through the tenure of Magnum P.I. Jack Lord himself lived down the street in the Black Point neighborhood of Honolulu’s exclusive Kahala district.
The last Five-O ’74 Marquis is in the hands of a guy who lives in Nanakuli, and yes, I have seen the car in the flesh. it runs and is in decent shape, although when he got it, the entire front end and transmission needed rebuilding as the car was trashed in the filming of the series. This ’74 was the second one used; the first ’74 was trashed beyond repair.
I believe a collector in Illinois has the ’68 Park Lane, which seemed to lose wheel covers at an alarming rate and one show of the 5-0 first season shows a clear dent in the driver’s door.
Chin Ho Kelly. Kam Fong (who played Chin Ho)wasonce a real Honolulu Police Detective. “Chin Ho” was the name of the developer who built the Ilikai Hotel – a nod to him by producer Leonard Freeman for letting his crew film extensively at the Ilikai.
I want to comb my hair Jack Lord style, put on my medium blue suit and stand ‘mauka’ on the top floor balcony and turn “just right” to mimic the opening credits !!
Don’t forget-The 1974 Marquis had a couple of cameos in the new ‘Five-O’ during the first season. (in the reboot-it was McGarret’s fathers car that he was restoring)
The featuring of Chevrolets in the new show is particularly unsettling to me, insomuch as those two Mercurys were icons of the old show.
I kinda see what you mean, but there are no Mercury’s anymore, the rest of the Five-O fleet was Ford sedans, only Steve got to flash the Merc.
There’s a few episodes where Kono and Dano stomp on the gas of the ’66 Galaxie 500 (with a 390 badge) and both tires light up like nobody’s business. These days, Fords dominate Oahu roads, but they’re F-150s.
Honestly, I haven’t seen the new Five-O. I do see them filming all the time down around the old courthouse. The “studio” that serves as the new Five-O is the Old Honolulu Star-Bulletin/Advertiser building on Kapiolani Boulevard.
I think the blue suit is what made all the stock footage so easy to use again and again, McGarrett was always wearing a blue suit.
Sometimes, McGarrett had a light tan or taupe suit . . . . Liberty House (now Macy’s).
The old Highway Patrol TV series used Mercury cars sometimes. Buick, Olds, and Dodge too.
Ziv Productions used Highway Patrol cars concurrent with what the CHP was then currently using including the one-year-only-special for the CHP, the ’55 Buick Century 2-door. 3 speed stick . . . . and a 2-door sedan which officially wasn’t listed in the Buick brochure. Basically, the 2-door Special sedan with four-porthole Century front fenders, Century badges, and the hot, 4-bbl Century nailhead mated to a three speed manual.
That’s remarkable, both that ZIV was so scrupulously accurate, and that you know this 57 years after the fact.
Here it is, in the Internet Movie Car Database. You can clearly see the B pillar, and (I checked the brochure) there was no 2-door Century sedan. A commenter on that page adds “The front brakes were from the Roadmaster as they were larger. Only 270 were made… ” Another commenter links to where you can get a diecast model of this car, with a nice three-quarter view.
CHP had (still does) lots of pull when it comes to pursuit vehicles.
In 1962, Mopar was still the California favorite, but, there wasn’t a 122″ platform for CHP to select from (Custom 880 didn’t come along until the spring of ’62). Ford/Chevy wasn’t a viable option then; Ford because of it’s brakes, Chevy because of it’s coils on all fours and the single quad 340hp 409 was handicapped by it’s Powerglide.
Chrysler knew this, so they built and marketed to the CHP a Chrysler Newport pursuit. 383 and 413’s on what was the ’61 Dodge Polara 122″ wheelbase.
Once the Custom 880 (actually just “880” for ’62 and ’63 – Custom was the uplevel trim) came along, CHP did select them and Mopar special built pursuits for CHP – 413’s with bucket seats and white steering wheels.
Down here in Sarasota County our local police dept purchased several Mercury Marauder cruisers about a decade ago alongside the usual Crown Vics. I remember them being something of a spectacle and phenomenon at the time. I serenely hope that Ford creates another proper rear-drive sedan that can be produced with a police package someday.
(Ford RWD) They do. Unfortunately, it’s only down under.
The yellow plate is the 1969-1975 issue; the green is the 1961-68 issue. Up through 1968, the registration sticker was a window decal that went in the lower side of the passenger’s part of the winshield. Exempt tags were metal tags that went on the plates up through ’68 – after that, there were special plates stamped “State” or “C&C” (for Honolulu County), etc.
The plates on McGarrett’s car(s) were phony – they carried the green and white scheme onto McGarrett’s ’74 Mercury which, up through 1975, would’ve been the yellow and black (above). From ’76 to ’80, Hawaii used, what I feel, is the best plate – the “bicentennial” that had the island, palm tree and King Kamehameha.
I have a 1968 monterey convertible with a 390 4v. Can you tell me how many were made with a 4 barrel
My dad had a 1968 mercury monteray4 dsd, it had a 428 super marauder v8 in it. it was a killer fast car, what a sleeper. I think about that car and wish I could have that car today. I think it would whip the vette I had in 2007.
For many years I have watched for the sedan my dad had when I was young. I see you have a picture of a green sedan with slanted power back window. Can you send me more info about this model?
I was watching an old Hawaii Five O show and saw his Jack Lords very cool Mercury. I looked up the 68 and found lots of info on Mercs. Of course there was a 73 Monterey Police car. The town I learned how to drive in used (LaGrange IL) them in 72/73. They were huge and probably had 429V8s. At night you knew at a stop light if it was a merc cop car pulling up behind you by the headlights and parking lights. I dated a girl and her father had a 1972 Mercury Marquis Brougham Two Door Medium Green color. It was unbelievably cool and had huge tall padded front seats. Today I drive a 2000 Mercury Marquis Four Door. Probably the best large car I have driven and owned since my 1963 Cadillac Fleetwood which I drove from 1972-1979.
Awesome article! I’ve always liked the 1968 Mercury Monterey. It’s not as upscale as the Lincoln Continental, but it’s not as plain jane as the Ford. 🙂
Old Mercs are very nice cars IMO .
When I was 16 i picked up a 62 TBird. Drove it that first year and my dad determined that I needed a more practical (slower) car. He took me to a friend of his who had a 68 Mercury Montclair for sale at $500. Needless to say I wanted nothing to do with it but my father won out. On the way home following my dad I noticed this strange spotlight on the left side of the car. As we were nearing home I decided to pass my dad ahead of me.
I floored the accelerator at 50 mph – the tires chirped and I was gone.
That was the best $500 I ever spent on a car. What a sleeper! I forgot all about the T-bird. Those police specials were great cars!