Saturday, September 18, 2010

1957 Mercury Monterey 4-door Sedan

"See the most advanced design in cars! The biggest Big M ever! More than 17 1/2 feet long, over 6 1/4 feet wide, with exclusive Floating Ride, Keyboard Control and up to 290hp!"

The world entered space age when Sputnik 1, the first satellite, was launched in 1957, and Mercury had the complementing cars ready, when the new 1957 models rolled out to the dealers. Mercury models always had been a finer equipped Ford, except for 1949-1951 when they rather looked like a junior Lincoln, but in 1957 Mercurys rode on a new, exclusive bodyshell, and they sure showed it: futuristic and gadget-laden, Mercury styling now played in a different league.

"Straight out of tomorrow . . . a dream car you can own!", trumpeted the advertisement, and in many respects, the new Mercurys were cutting edge. Especially the Turnpike Cruiser, which was essentially a street version of Mercury's own 1956 XM showcar, featured gadgets in abundance. Among them were an electrically retractable rear window, "Seat-O-Matic" memory seats, "Keyboard Control" automatic shifter pushbuttons, a "Monitor Control Panel" that could even display the average speed, a "Skylight Dual Curve" three-dimensionally distorted windshield, and quad headlights, operational only in the states that had made them already road-legal . All other Mercurys, including the mid-level Monterey, sported similar looks, but a less fancy equipment list.

However, the customers didn't -or couldn't- follow Mercury's sudden move from very elegantly styled cars to exaggerated chrome-chariots. Although the lineup was acclaimed as ultra-modern, and agile by the car magazines, the sales went down from almost 320.000 cars in 1956 to just over 286.000 in 1957.

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