1955 Mercury Montclair

This was my parents car in 1955, a Mercury Montclair convertible. The car was black with a contrasting yellow color panel across the top of the doors. Very sharp. It came w/ the optional Merc-o-Matic automatic transmission. The following information comes from some articles I found online @ conceptcarz.com and live auctioneers.com. where a red Montclair sold for some absurd amount of money, but I didn’t log in to find out how much.

When I was a kid I knew all the major brands & lots of models. It was fun to be charmed by transportation. I couldn’t wait to turn 16 and drive a car of my own.  This Montclair sold for $2,712.00. Imagine that? Today, not only is it rare when a car stands out visually, but the amount you have to pay to buy a new car is simply prohibitive. The new Chevy Volt, a hybrid model, starts at $41,000.  Starts at $41,000! Tell me how GM is going to turn their situation around when the basic model sells for that kind of money? This doesn’t seem like forward thinking.

Maybe this is just another reflection of the difference between those who have and those who don’t. I drive a 14 year old Saturn that is still in great shape, and was distinctive enough in its day. But it was never bought because of style. At any rate, here’s proof that at some point in my life I could ride around with the big boys. Thanks Dad.

 

 

In 1955, Mercury’s lineup was restyled with longer and lower bodies, and included the Custom and Monterey as well as the new Montclair series. With a fashionably low overall height, the Montclair was available in four body styles including the sole convertible offered by Mercury. Fresh styling and mechanical improvements earned the company Motor Trend’s ‘Car of the Year’ award in 1955, which it shared with Chevrolet.

 

The Montclair featured an attractive, narrow color panel surrounded by chrome trim below the side windows, as well as bright rocker trim panels. In addition, a round medallion was placed near the tip of the front fenders, while the model name was written in chrome script just above the mid-body spear. The car was also longer than its predecessors, with a more robust chassis design as well as a powerful V8 engine, enlarged to 292 cubic inches of displacement and producing 198 horsepower with a standard dual exhaust system. Pioneering road tester Tom McCahill of Mechanix Illustrated achieved zero-to-sixty times of less than 13 seconds, earning ‘hot car’ status for the Montclair. While nearly 11,000 buyers were fortunate enough to own a Montclair Convertible in 1955, few examples remain today and fewer still are as attractive as the fine example offered here.

 

Finished in a striking red exterior with a spotless red and white interior, this Montclair is well equipped with power steering, power brakes, an AM radio and a clock. Other accessories include dual chrome-plated rearview mirrors, bumper guards, chrome-plated exhaust tips, red painted steel wheels with full wheel covers and whitewall tires. Indicated mileage is just over 42,000 miles, and while this figure cannot be verified conclusively, it is certainly commensurate with the excellent overall condition and presentation of the car.

 

This Montclair is both a rare and desirable automobile in the pantheon of great 1950s cars. It benefits from a comprehensive professional restoration and its paint, chrome, interior and engine bay detailing all appear fresh. Remarkably stylish with undeniable presence, it is a show quality car through and through.

 

Priced at $2712, the ragtop Montclair naturally shared the bold new look of Mercury’s Customs and Montereys, with longer and lower bodies, wrapped windshields, and squarer, more imposing lines. A slim beltline contrast-color panel distinguished Montclairs, which also included a unique low-roof four-door sedan and the interesting Sun Valley hardtop with a green-tinted transparent roof insert above the front seat. Introduced as a ’54 Monterey, the Sun Valley sold just 1787 copies for ’55 versus 10,668 convertibles — proving perhaps that there’s no substitute for real top-down motoring.

Also back from ’54 was Mercury’s first overhead-valve V-8, newly enlarged to 292 cubic inches and good for 198 horsepower with standard dual exhausts in Montclairs, which also came with self-shift Merc-O-Matic transmission. “Uncle” Tom McCahill clocked 0-60 mph at 12.8 seconds with a hardtop, so Mercury was still something of a “hot” car. Yet all ’55s rode and handled better, thanks to refinements in the year-old ball-joint front suspension, and larger brakes improved stopping power.

 

 

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