When I spotted this Montego convertible parked by the beach at Half Moon Bay, I had the thought that doesn’t come to me very often: Have I ever seen one of these before? Given that I was sixteen when this car was new, I undoubtedly did, but wouldn’t have paid it much attention at the time. But in more recent decades, when I began to appreciate all the older cars still on the road, including once-invisible ones like a Montego, I can say fairly certainly: No.
Well, there’s a pretty good reason for that. All of 1,725 Montego convertibles were built in 1969. As a logical consequence, this was the last year for the ragtop. And how many of them are still around? So yes, I was pretty happy with this find.
Unfortunately, I’m not quite as happy with some of these shots, as the sun was low on our morning walk on the beach, and not exactly helpful from some angles. Its front end is a bit too generic Ford of the times, looking like both an LTD/Galaxie as well as the German Taunus TC. The extended fender blades seem to be asking for a hug.
This was a not a happy time for Mercury in general and the Montego (née Comet) in particular. GM’s rather radical 1968 A Body coupes, which had their own distinct body shell and shorter wheelbase than the sedans, made these look rather outdated. Unlike the GM coupes and convertibles, these looked like a somewhat smaller big car. That’s what mid-sized cars had started out to be, but that convention was quickly being turned on its head. GM’s coupes were almost the opposite: more like a Mustang for grown ups. Similar proportions and distinct flair, and not just a 9/10th Monterey. GM’s mid sized coupes would come to dominate the sales charts; the Montego would struggle along until it finally played the same game, morphing into the Cougar in 1974.
And as to its color of this fine specimen, well, it appears to not be original.
Here’s the 1969 Mercury color chart.
Maybe someone will identify it, but it works well enough for me, although it doesn’t really say 1970, a year when bold pastels were popular. The rear flanks are definitely channeling a bit of that old Continental magic that Mercury was always trying appropriate.
The result is as I mentioned above: if you didn’t know better, from a bit of distance you’d think it was a full-sized car. Of course, 209″ of length and a 117″ wheelbase aren’t exactly petite. Along with its 209.9″ long ’70-’71 successor, these Montegos would be the biggest ever built on the “Falcon platform” in the US.
The restyle for 1970 and 1971, the last ones on this platform, brought a bold new front end with a decided “Bunkie Beak”, with hidden headlights available on the MX, as well as new curvaceous styling and roofline. But no convertible version.
Meanwhile the 1970-1971 Torino still offered a ragtop, although I’d pretty much forgotten about that, and said so at the time when this car was written up here. But that very low take rate of the ’69 Montego convertible sent a pretty clear message. Convertibles sales were in terminal decline at the time anyway, so it was hardly surprising.
The spoked wheels are aftermarket, and the 351 badge tells us what’s under the hood. It doesn’t tell us whether it’s the 250 or 290 hp (gross) version. Both were optional along with the 302 (220 hp). The 155 hp 250 six was technically standard, but unless someone specially ordered it, I very much doubt any found their way into a convertible. A 320 hp 390 was also available. The potent 335 hp 428 Cobra Jet was not available on sedans, wagons and the convertible.
The interior looks original except for some black tape on the seats and the inevitable fuzzy dice. I suspect the wood steering wheel is aftermarket too, as I couldn’t find it in the brochure. The dash shows the influence of the 1967 Cougar.
The convertible wasn’t the only mid-sized model that was having its last outing in 1969. Oddly enough, there was also still a Comet coupe available, appropriately dubbed “the one-model car series”. Good luck finding one of those, although with 14,104 built, the odds theoretically are better than the Montego convertible. Realistically not, as convertibles always had a much higher survival rate than other body styles. Who would have wanted to keep a ’69 Comet for the long haul? Or for more than the length of the loan?
This Montego sure looked fine sitting there with the Santa Cruz Mountains wearing a fuzzy fog hat in the background, and the Pacific in the foreground.
Some very dear old friends of ours live in a house facing the beach just off to the left of this image, and go to Hawaii every winter for a month or two, and offer it to us to house-sit. Stephanie has her mom come out from Iowa to escape the winter there, and her sister lives close by, so it becomes something of a Squires family reunion. I’d have stayed longer, but I’m slammed here in Eugene, but will go back down for a week or so.
The view from the upstairs bedroom wall of glass is superb, although it was not calm like when this picture was taken another year. The breakers were boiling furiously as there had been a series of storms hitting the coast. There’s a several mile-long beach walk-bike path that’s not visible right at the inland edge of the sand, as well as some superb hiking in the mountains nearby.
I have digressed here, but I’m afraid this car doesn’t exactly stimulate a lot of verbiage from me. It’s hardly controversial, and like the beach, it just asks to be appreciated for what it is.
Disagree. That sun’s angle gave you great shots, some of which are almost brochure standard. Don’t always have to see all the detail; the light shows of the contours really well. Nice views.
I’ll second that…the lighting seems to have highlighted contours in that car that I’ve never noticed before. Specifically, it really brings out a Mark III-like vibe in the area above the wheel arches.
The car does really have kind of a Mark lll vibe. Never thought of it that way. Perfect car to drive to the beach. Aftermarket wheels add a bit here. Not disappointed with this car’s looks at all. I would have chosen the 351 also.
I also agree with Don – Paul, these are great shots that show the level of detail Mercury division invested in these full-sized cars to distinguish them from lesser Fords and top-line Lincolns.
I wonder what might have happened if Mercury had continued to evolve these styling themes into the Seventies, instead of what actually followed…
The owner is certainly driving this Mercury since it’s in Half Moon Bay and has Washington plates. That’s not a short drive between the two.
The color, whatever it’s origin, works well here and much more so than, say, Medium Lime Poly. And I agree with Paul, I appreciate this Mercury but I simply cannot find myself getting excited about it. That said, kudos to the owner for keeping this old girl vibrant.
OTOH, Medium Lime Poly just screams late ’60s/early ’70s. Throw in a matching green nylon brocade interior for maximum “they don’t make ’em like this anymore”-ness.
Has collector plate, no front plate issued or required as standard plates are. I have collector plate, a couple of quick police car U turns and then a disappointed look in the rear view mirror has happened to me over the last 2 years.
Not the most appealing year, but still a rare car and a great find. I would get the front seat lower cushion recovered and call it good. Nice find.
There’s sometimes I wonder if Mercury had gambler with the right nameplate for its midsize line-up at the time. 2 years earlier, they used a wider choices of names besides Comet like Caliente, Cyclone and Capri (later re-used for a rechristened Mustang). Mercury tried once with Meteor but what if they had taken a cue from Ford who recycled the Fairlane nameplate going from full-size to mid-size (Plymouth did the same with Belvedere) and used the Monterey monicker for its mid-size/intermediate line-up instead of Montego?
Ah, yes, 1967…the year that Mercury billed itself as “the Man’s Car.”
You taught me something today. I wasn’t aware that Mercury used the Capri nameplate between Lincoln’s use of the model name in the 1950s, and Ford Europe’s use of it starting in 1969 for its coupé (which, of course, became a captive import for Mercury).
Nice looking convertible that falls into that category of doing whatever you want with it because it’s not going to be a $100,000 car no matter what. I’d have an LS and GM automatic in there and simply never open the hood for anyone. I’m a little sad about the duct tape seat since the rest generally looks so much better than that.
Its rare to see any ’60s Mercury other than a Cougar so its nice to see this. A neighbor has this ’69 Cyclone and no one knows what it is when it goes to shows
The look with the top down is outstanding
Can’t believe I found this article as I am an owner of a Mercury Montego MX conv that was awesomely ordered by a family friend back in 69. My car is a bit of a anomaly as I will explain. First, it was ordered with the 390 power plant with the C6 trans. Factory dual exhaust with crossover. Bucket seats with console and floor shift. Front disc brakes and power steering Dressed up with 500 rims with Mercury head center caps. Color is teal blue/green with white top and white interior. I have never seen another one in print or live. Was once told the interior was “ Cyclone GT”. I would welcome any further info if someone is in the know
My first car that wasn’t a hand me down from a relative was a 68 Cyclone GT so when I see a Montego convertible I notice it…and you are correct that they are few and far between. In the last 50 years travelling all over the US I have seen 1 or 2 in the metal and 2 of their nearly identical 68 siblings. For that matter, it is rare to see any model of mid sized Mercury.
I’m not quite sure what Stephane is saying about model names, as the 67 mid sized Mercury was available as a Comet 202, Capri, Caliente, and Cyclone, as well as the Villager and Voyager wagons. In 68/69 the Comet lost the 202 designation and the Caliente became the Montego (plain and MX) so not really much of a change. The real change in 68 was the names for the wagon models, both mid sized and full sized.
BTW, the rarest mid sized Mercury in the late 60s was the Cyclone GT hardtop coupe at 334 in 67/68 with the result that the model was dropped in 69.
Yup, just a nice enjoyable car. Midsize ’60s cars seem so much saner than some of what came before.
And +1 for the photography being great for capturing the moment rather than the details of the car. It’s got me dreaming of early morning beach smells and sounds….
Oh Mercury, your cars were so often hit and miss. You suffered an ongoing identity crisis as Daddy FoMoCo had no real idea about what do do with you. Oftentimes cars such as this Montego appeared to be a fancy Ford or a stripped-down Lincoln to most people. That being said, it’s still not a bad car in the slightest. My uncle, who was a senior engineer at FoMoCo, was an avid fan of Mercuries. He just liked them the best. I fully approve with the owner of this car for both the distinctive color (which reminds me of milk of magnesia for some reason) as well as the fact that it’s simply a Mercury and not yet another Ford or Chevy.
Against the superb GM and Chrysler intermediate offerings, these were easily the worst looking. Combined with a rather lackluster engine line-up (at least until the 428CJ and Cleveland small-blocks appeared), these just weren’t very impressive. After the 1965 Mercury Cyclone (which looked quite like the same year GTO), there aren’t too many Mercurys that I’d have in my dream garage.
Regardless, it might not be an OEM color, but whomever did the respray did a very nice job of it. I’d almost be tempted to think it was a special-order paint from the factory, which wasn’t that unheard of back in the day. And that’s most definitely ‘not’ a factory wood steering wheel.
Every time I see one of those W-shape, Bunkie-Beak 1970-71 Mercurys, I’m reminded of the notion that these (and Bunkie’s T-Bird) were the cars that caught the attention of legislators to enact 5 mph bumper regs. If true, it seems quite unfair that these were singled out, but maybe the easily bent front bumper of the Mustang helped, as well.
What a great catch! Two initial observations: That splitting vinyl seat was so common. Ford went to a new vinyl material in 1968 that had a softer feel and a more pronounced grain/texture. It was never anywhere close to the durability of the pre-68 vinyl.
Second, I suspect that color might be original, or perhaps a modern re-formulation that came out a little off. The Medium Gold that Ford used in 69-70 had a way of looking different in different light. I would bet that the pinkish early-morning sun may have played some tricks on the color. The attached pic is the color in bright sunlight.
Finally, this car plays with my mind. The big Mercury and the Cougar of 1967-69 were both so nicely styled cars. This one kind of is, but is so much more bland and generic than it ought to be. The “Mercury bulge” at the front of the hood is so minimized and the taillights are attractive but completely free of character. It is like the sum is less than the whole of the individual design elements. I certainly like it more than I like the 69 Torino formal hardtop.
I was wondering what CC’s Color Expert would say about this. I assumed it was original, until I got home and looked at the color chart. Possible, but a bit of a stretch. And now that I think about it, It wasn’t actually all that early. More like 9:30, but the winter sun is rather lower.
When I first looked at this Merc this morning Paul (very early on my iPad, so it may’ve still been in “Night Shift” mode, thus affecting the perceived color), I thought the color was similar to this ’65 Impala SS you shot and wrote up a while back here….
…but then looking at it again on my PC here at work, it does not look as “orchid” as it did this morning.
I figured the “CC’s Color Expert” JPC would set us all straight. ;o)
In 1969, Lincoln offered medium orchid metallic and light copper metallic, but neither appears to be an exact match of this color. The medium orchid metallic is a little more purple than this color.
Might that color be GMs mid 60s “Evening Orchid” Or some near mix? It looks well on this Montego. I have always liked the 68 and 69 Montegos. Somewhat reserved styling. but that suited Mercury. I was 17 when this car would have been new. Maybe the convertible was dropped because the Cougar Convertible came along in 69 and took most of the market in Mercury dealerships at the time? The Montego and Torino shared a lot. Platform, Suspensions Drive trains, Cowls and windshields, even door shells. And were a little sleeker in line than the decided box look of the mid size Ford. I would proudly own and drive this, Taped seats, Non original color and all.
Half Moon Bay has a couple of car shows every year, and in general is a popular destination for weekend cruises, so it’s not uncommon to see some nice cars there. In the 1960’s the airport was also a drag racing venue. When I was in junior high school, maybe 1968 or ‘69, my friend’s dad took us to an event there. The highlight was supposed to be a grudge race between two Top Fuel stars of the time, “TV Tommy” Ivo, and I think Don “The Snake” Prudhomme. But it was deemed too windy for the fuellers to run safely, so that was canceled but the other cars still raced. The only one I remember was a Volvo 544 which, as a Volvo fan, I was excited to see … until I realized that watching a stock, muffled 4 cylinder car running a 19 second quarter mile wasn’t much fun. Maybe there was a spectator’s new Montego convertible in attendance …
I just noticed in the interior shot the a/c and power windows. Someone popped for a very nice Montego in 1969.
Yes, a Volvo in the quarter mile would put the drag in drag race. 🙂
Wow, great find Paul. Last time I saw a Montego in the flesh was in 1982. A buddy had one as his first car. It was 1971 MX Brougham coupe. A real oddball to our group who drove mostly GM rolling stock. When the 302 ate it’s timing chain, a close friend and dad rebuild the top end. Ran so quite and smooth you could balance a nickel on the air cleaner. Car met a sad end when he drove it into the get back of a tractor trailer. He survived and was issued a dui.
Truly beautiful photos Paul.
I like that colour. Though it reminds me a lot of the similar colour available on the ‘Catfish’ Taurus. The Mercury’s paint having more magenta/red.
A 1960’s V8 American convertible with factory A/C! A rare find indeed; usually reserved for the much more expensive luxury cars of the time period.
I like this car’s grille/hood much more than the “Bunkie Beak” 1970 model. I have vivid memories of how the 1970 nose took an awful beating when parallel parked in New Orleans’ congested, packed French Quarter.
If one was going to change the color; I would had chosen the “Dark Aqua Poly”; a perfect “period correct” color……but that’s just me.
Lastly: Another fine, thoughtful, concise article from Paul.
Actually, factory A/C in cars such as this was not rare at all. The take rate for factory A/C in American vehicles hit 50% for the first time in 1969, with the percentage in intermediates and full-sizers being even higher, even for convertibles. The overwhelming popularity of A/C, with drivers liking the cool, windows up, quiet environment, was a major factor in the demise of the convertible not 10 years later.
I recall the FoMoCo 351 2-BBL engine being the equal (or better) of any GM 350 2-BBL V8 engine of this time period.
I’d put the Olds Rocket 350 2bbl as at least it’s equal, having had both.
I never noticed this before but the photos really highlight it, the wheel arches are clearly also emulating the Lincoln Mark III.
I kind of prefer these to their Ford cousins but I can’t disagree that they look dated next to a GM A-body, Mopar B-body or frankly even a AMC Rebel. The hard edges and trim channel 1966 (appropriate since these are in fact a light reskinning of the 66 Comet).
There is another ’69 Montego Convertible where I live in Folsom, California. Not in my neighborhood, but about three miles away. I see it in traffic every few weeks. The driver appears to be in his early-mid 40s.
Based on your color chart, Paul, I’d say the one in Folsom is Medium Blue Poly. And it’s running on original optional wheels. It’s either a well-cared for survivor or has been restored. It’s not wearing original California license plates (which, depending on how early or late in the ’69 model year it was sold, would have been the last of the blacks or the first of the blues), but the current seven-character white ones with what I call the lipstick seismograph “California” at the top.
If I get the chance, I’ll try to get some photos and a chat with the owner.
As a teenager, I saw a few Montego convertibles back in the day—mostly in Southern California. Nice to know at least two survivors are running around.
Paul, thanks for taking note of this one and telling its story for us; l probably haven’t seen one in forty years. My heart goes out to any Mercury, even it is (just) a “fancy Ford.” Fun to guess who might have bought this one—and optioned this way—at the time, but a full-size Mercury was **really** a boat then, and these were surely big enough for most any purpose.
If buying a hobby car, I probably wouldn’t choose it, but I’d be happy to “keep it nice for the next guy” if offered to me. I think of late-1960s as kind of a sweet spot before cars got all the vacuum hoses and smog stuff to worry about (to maintain a half-century later.) Hemmings has a nice, low-mileage one; I wonder if they’ll get anywhere near $21K for it: https://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/dealer/mercury/montego/1733041.html
The 1969 Mercury line-up always brings back memories of the small plastic cars that were hidden in some cereals at the time.
The goal, of course, was to have small boys pester their parents to buy several boxes of the cereal in order to get each model in the Mercury line-up. (It certainly worked in our family!)
The featured intermediate Mercury, however, was the Cyclone fastback, not the Montego convertible or hardtop coupe.
These do seem like shrunken big cars, although the effect was more pronounced on contemporary Fairlanes and Torinos, which definitely looked like 3/5s Galaxies.
After beating GM and Chrysler to this segment in 1962, Ford was all over the map when it came to the goal of each generation. The 1966-67 models seemed like super-sized Falcons, while the 1968-69 models came across as smaller big cars, as the article notes.
The 1970-71 models were clearly styled with the 1968 GM A-bodies in mind (although the coupes and sedans remained on the same wheelbase). For 1972, we got the split-wheelbase strategy, but cars that were aimed at capturing big-car buyers who wanted something a little smaller and easier to park.
I see that several of us thought “Evening Orchid” when we saw these pics (just found out that Pontiac had a similar color called “Iris Mist” that can be found on a handful of rare GTOs!).
JPC notes the less sturdy vinyl used in Ford beginning in 1968 – interesting. The early/mid-60’s Ford vinyl interiors were really well made. We had a 64 Fairlane Sports Coupe ordered new (long story there) in Guardsman Blue and the seats (buckets in front) were made from very attractive, durable vinyl. Same for friend’s 63 Sunliner vinyl bench seats.
I don’t recall ever seeing one of these convertibles despite the fact that most were likely sold here in SoCal and would have been around when I moved here in 72. I’m sure I did but they probably blended into the background given the somewhat neutral styling.
In conservative areas of the deep south, any man who drove a car with this shade/hue/color of paint sometimes had his masculinity questioned behind his back.
Enjoyed the photo.
My first car was a 1968 Montego MX convertible in medium blue.
Yes, that is definitely an aftermarket steering wheel.
Had a lot of good times in that car. Still miss it.
Lincoln called the color “Orchid Metallic” the same model year, I recall a couple Continental Mark III’s in the color. 1968-’69 Montego convertibles were pleasant but bland, nice if one could purchase one as a used car for daily transportation but nothing to get excited about.
Ding! I think we have a winner. I knew I’d seen that color before, and it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for someone to have special ordered it off the Lincoln palette for their Montego convertible. It just looked too well done to ‘not’ have come from the factory.
I was reminded of that color by this Mark III that appeared on eBay a short while ago.
I always liked the ’68-69 Comets, Montegos, and Cyclones. My older brother bought a brand new Montego MX 2 dr. Hardtop in the summer of 1968. It was maroon, had the 302 4V, and also had positraction. He kept it almost 10 years. I came close to buying it from him. I remember seeing a few Montego ragtops at the dealership where he bought his, and seeing some on the road over the years.
The color does look like the one Chevy & Pontiac offered in 1965. For 1968 Mercury had “Tahitian Rose Poly”, which is similar to the CC featured convertible.
I always like the ‘68-‘69 Montego (+Comet), but prefer the ‘68’s grill. In 1968 the MX Brougham had a somewhat odd lower body and rear deck wood tone trim, which was dropped in ‘69. That wood trim always reminded me of the a similar lower body trim used on deluxe early ‘70’s Chevy pickups.
My Dad sold his about a year and a half ago, Dark Ivy Green Poly, 351 2V, white interior and top
and the interior….
and the engine…..
damn photo will not upload 🙁
Cougar and full size Mercs were the stars at L-M stores in late 60’s, with Falcon platform Comet/Montego being overlooked. Also, the Torino got more attention.
The ’72 Montego, on BOF, then was a hit, leading to the mid size Cougar.
Nice article and very cool car. I’m pretty sure that color is 1963 Ford “Rose Beige”. My parents had a 63 Galaxie that color
Well, no one has guessed the color. Must say I was shocked to come across this article, since this is my car (I used to live in the pumpkin yellow house on Wave Ave. near where these photos were shot). To dispel the mystery, it is a custom color from 1971 put out by Peterbilt, called “champagne rose.” Anyway, thanks for the write-up of my ride!
Escrito desde España.
Muy buen artículo.
Tengo desde hace unos meses un Mercury Comet Sports Coupé del 69 base motor 250 six un línea .
Por lo que veo es un coche muy poco común de ver hoy en día en Estados Unidos .
Más raro es verlo fuera de sus frontera y este aterrizó en España supongo que por la base aérea de Torrejón de Ardoz.
Saludos desde España.
Este es mi Merc .
Did you really buy it? My daughter just sold it to two brothers in Half Moon Bay.
El Merc junto al Dart