Vintage Review: 1955 Mercury – Motor Trend Checks Out The “Big M”

Last week, Paul couldn’t help but love the stylish “Mid-Century” grille on this 1955 Monterey 2-Door Hardtop–a true Curbside Classic.  But how was the rest of the car?  Motor Trend served up several articles on the 1955 Mercury, including drive reports and an overview of new models, including the new top-of-the-line Montclair series.  What did MT’s editors make of the “Mighty Mercury for 1955”?

The Mercury line was significantly enhanced for 1955 with all-new styling inside and out, as well as increased power under-hood.  1955 also heralded the arrival of the upmarket Montclair Series targeting rivals like the Buick Century, DeSoto Firedome and Oldsmobile Super 88.  Initially the Montclair line consisted solely of 2-doors, including the novel (and rare) “Sun Valley” 2-door hardtop with the plexiglass roof insert over the front seat, but a 4-door sedan was added shortly after the start of production.

Motor Trend Editor Walt Woron also featured the Mercury in his “Driving Around” series (plus the Lincoln was covered too, for a Lincoln-Mercury “Lucky Strike Extra”).  Woron found the Mercury to be capable and quick (in the context of the times and the type of car), and certainly capable of competing with the “hotter” cars from competitive makes.

Motor Trend also conducted a full road test of the Mercury Custom sedan.  Oddly, the car was very basically equipped for a Mercury, lacking both power steering and power brakes, so the car couldn’t provide a full-on “upmarket” experience.  But it did perform well: in general Motor Trend liked the handling and responsiveness of the Mercury.  As equipped (Custom Sedan, Merc-o-matic, radio, heater), the Mercury Custom tested would have listed for $2,637 ($24,647 adjusted), pretty low for an “step-up” car.

When it came to Mercury buyers for 1955, they did in fact want more upscale rides: the higher-priced Monterey and Montclair series turned out to be the best sellers for the year.

Bodystyle Custom Monterey Montclair
2-Door Sedan 31,295  –  –
2-Door Hardtop 7,040 69,093 71,588
4-Door Sedan 21,219 70,392 20,624
4-Door Station Wagon 14,134 11,968  –
2-Door Convertible  –  – 10,668
2-Door “Sun Valley” Hardtop  –   – 1,787
Total 1955 Sales 73,688 151,453 104,667


Overall 1955 Mercury sales were 329,808, a 27% increase versus 1954, which seems like an impressive gain.  However, the overall U.S. car market was booming in 1955, with total sales up 47%, so Mercury actually underperformed the market.  The competition was more fierce than ever, and a plethora of new products from General Motors and Chrysler Corporation were able to capture the lions share of the sales increase for the year.

Still, from the grille on back, there was a lot to love about this 1955 Mercury.