Thursday, February 4, 2016

1957 Mercury Monterey Phaeton Coupe

"There's no mistaking this car for any other. Long, flowing lines leading back to massive V-angle tail-lights say it's a Mercury — but definitely. And that means other things, too: an abundance of luxury and fine car touches inside — agile going under any driving circumstances, thanks to Mercury's advanced new V-8 engine — and tip-top performance wherever and however you drive."

1957 held some pleasant surprises for American car shoppers: the newly introduced "Turbine Drive" Chryslers sure stole the show from everyone else and made even the classy but aging GM designs suddenly look pretty old-fashioned. Yet, another player, which previously wasn't renowned for striking design impulses, surfaced: Ford, and particularly its Mercury Division, surprised the automotive world with very daring styling themes. They sure wouldn't qualify as being very subtle or timeless, but for the style-hungry customers in these times, newness meant goodness. Well, that was the prediction of Ford's marketing people when the development began in the mid-1950s. Too bad that Mercury buyers didn't share their confidence, as the new models met with a fairly frosty reception.

Penned by Don De La Rossa, the new Mercurys were brimming with fancy space-age details. Refined and elegant style — a hallmark of their predecessors — was replaced by futuristic and dazzling styling. In their urge to make the Mercurys look as outstanding as possible, the designers went perhaps a bit too far, and scared off customers.

The dramatic change in Mercury's design direction was complemented by a total structural overhaul. For the first time since the conception of the brand in 1939, a Mercury didn't derive from a Ford or Lincoln but was based on a bespoke chassis. The advanced bodyshell construction resulted in dramatically improved proportions, making the cars five inches (12,7 cm) longer, three inches (7,6 cm) wider and a whopping four inches (10 cm) lower than the previous models.

Even if the Mercury didn’t attract buyers back then, today these cars are a classy testimony of an exciting time when everything seemed possible and the word „garish“ had a positive connotation in automotive styling matters.

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