Curbside Classic: 1970 Mercury Montego MX Brougham – Mixed Messages

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(first posted 3/29/2014)    Every car has a story, but some are a lot more obvious than others to divine. What is this Montego Brougham trying to tell us? Do we even want to know? I’m almost afraid to ask, because it’s not likely to be pretty.

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I found it just a few blocks from my place, where some new folks seem to have moved into a rental house, along with their less-than typical agglomeration of cars. Welcome to the neighborhood; you’ll fit in pretty well, it seems.

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The Tercel and Horizon are the obvious daily drivers, but they keep the Brougham (along with a mattress) in the driveway for special occasions. This car is such a mess; and not because of the state it’s in now; it was a mess the day it rolled of the assembly line. It’s such a conflicted vehicle; what a hodge-podge of mixed messages and stilted styling. Sporty, luxurious, practical, or thrifty? Which shall it be?

Mercury 1970 Cyclone Spoiler-main1

Its highly “expressive” front end styling was obviously intended primarily for its swoopy wild brother, the Cyclone Spoiler. Still stilted and affected, but the front end works a bit better on the Cyclone Spoiler, right down to its ever-so awesome “gunsight” center section. Wasn’t 1970 wonderful?

Mercury Montego Brougham 1970

Ok; the Cyclone Spoiler was trying to catch some of the GTO The Judge’s stardust; it managed a certain cult following even if it didn’t exactly set the muscle-car world on fire. But the Montego MX Brougham? It obviously appealed to white-water canoeists. Right. Poor Mercury; it really didn’t know who it was supposed to be chasing with most of its cars. Putting old folks into ads and brochures obviously wasn’t a good strategy, even if it had been a lot closer to the truth than canoes.

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What exactly was the Montego, other than a Torino with a different front end? Umm; let me think on that…I know! It carries the distinction of being the longest car ever built on the “Falcon Platform“. With a length of 209.9”, it was almost two and a half feet longer than namesake 1960 Falcon that spawned this whole family.

Ford Falcon 1966 -futura4-doorsedan

Look closely, and you’ll see a 1966 Falcon hiding in this 1970 Montego, and not all that successfully. Yes, there’s a bit more wheelbase (116″ vs. 110.9″), but that didn’t really affect the passenger compartment. But is sure did on the front end.

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If I told you this was a 1966 Falcon interior, many of you might not take me to task. This is a Brougham? A Valiant Brougham had nicer upholstery. Or at least as nice.

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Somebody was determined to keep that fine red cloth looking new as long as possible. Those clear seat covers give me the willies; my father ordered the cheaper version (from Fingerhut), which were perfectly smooth, clear plastic. The embossed version created channels that allowed the sweat to run more easily to the front or rear of the seat, and didn’t require someone else to peel a kid wearing short shorts off them. Of course, these did leave tell-tale imprints on the back of one’s thighs.

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This was a mighty fine car, one to be proud of, and one that put its best feature out front, for all the world to admire. Sadly, the hidden headlights aren’t working anymore, which really gave it its maximum impactful effect. Is this what inspired the famous 1974 Matador’s front end?

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Lest there be any doubt, this is a genuine Brougham, as this 23¢ badge authenticates. And lest there be any other doubts, I’m proud to feature it here at CC; we’ve had a lot of Broughams grace our pages, but way too many of the obvious ones. CC is committed to giving equal time to all Broughams, and we’re going to be announcing a new initiative on that subject. So let’s hear it for the underdog Broughams, no matter how sad and ugly.

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