Thursday, May 28, 2015

1954 Mercury Monterey Special Custom Coupe

"Unmistakably, the striking modernity of this 'hard top' model makes it a car for those who strive to enjoy the finest things in contemporary life. Fleet, crisply designed lines from bumper to bumper hint of the power and smoothness that await the driver's command. There's a dash of high-spirited sportiness, too — the 'convertible' touch. Yet all the comfort of any Mercury closed car is there for passengers to enjoy. Every look, every line holds a promise of new driving pleasure, and — best of all — revolutionary new engine and chassis components make all of it come true."

The racy stickers make this Mercury look like a veritable competition machine. They are remainders of the "Copa Castrol", a rally that is organized by Havana's Escuderia de Autos Clásicos — A lo Cubano. The aforementioned oil company thankfully sponsors these events and helps keeping the classic cars rolling. Well, the Mercury's owner certainly wouldn't need such support: it is driven by Kevin Jones, an English musician and car enthusiast. Hence the Union Jack at the windshield and the tasteful restoration, that was awarded "Auto más original" at another occasion. A peek under the bonnet reveals the original Y-Block overhead-valve "V-161" V-8 engine, crowned with a massive Edelbrock air cleaner.

This modern engine was the big news at Mercury in 1954. It replaced the Flathead V-8 of previous years. Power jumped up 28 percent, from 125 to 161 horses. That engine and a new ball-joint front suspension made the Mercury become one of the sweetest driver's cars that year.

However, the Mercury had one flaw: it looked a bit tame. While the classic proportions and the tastefully restrained styling certainly appeal to today's tastes, they were a drawback back then when ostentatious trim and an ever "longer, lower, wider" look were en vogue. For 1954, a massive chrome-laden bumper should add eye-candy to the aging Mercury lineup. Yet, the company had an ace already waiting up its sleeves: the new generation of Mercurys for 1955 should feature a much more aggressive and flashy styling that could finally rival Detroit's boldest creations.

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