Story of the Week

Posted: 01.09.2018
Mercury's Big M was a 'Dream Car' design for 1957
By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images courtesy of Robert Tate's collection

 

 

In 1957, the Ford-owned Mercury brand introduced its newly styled “Dream Car Designs” with the intention of attracting new customers within the luxury model buying market. Advertising for 1957 Mercury stated, “Mercury models for 1957 are the most luxurious in their field and still reasonably priced.”

New features for the 1957 line-up included a 14-inch wheelbase, along with an air-cushion suspension on the rear, a push-button transmission selector on the dash and newly design Quadri-Beam headlamps that improved night-time driving. Despite the new options and the new car design, Mercury production was down to 286,163 models that were manufactured for the model year in 1957. The production dip surprised Ford executives as Mercury sales had been a success story especially between 1949-1956.


The new Mercury Monterey and Montclair models were introduced to the public and became available for sale in dealer showrooms on Monday, Nov. 12, 1956. Another new model introduced for 1957 was the distinctive Turnpike Cruiser which featured dual air intake horns over the windshield and quad headlights with large chrome mountings. The new and innovative features set apart the Turnpike Cruiser from other fellow models for that year. The Turnpike Cruiser convertible model was available with an optional continental spare and extended rear bumper. The model cost the consumer $ 4,103. The Canadian version was called the Monarch Turnpike Cruiser, which is a part of this story.

The 1957 Mercury obtained national notoriety after being tapped for the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car which many Ford fans appreciated. Mercury advertising used famed TV host Ed Sullivan to announce the “Big M” Mercury line on his highly popular TV show. The Mercury convertible pace car was painted a color called Sun Glitter with a black top along with silver-bright side projectiles along the graceful rear quarter panels. One of the features that many consumers had admired about the Mercury pace car was the spare tire carrier, which included a bright metal applique on the rear fender affixed on the back of the wheel housing.

Behind the wheel of the 1957 Mercury convertible pace car was F. C. “Jack” Reith, who led the nation across the starting line at 90 mph to officially start the 41st running of the annual 500-mile race. Reith was Ford Motor Company vice president and Mercury general manager.


For 1957, Mercury offered new color combinations that included flo-tone color combinations in the Montclair, Monterey and station wagon series. Sixteen basic colors ranging from Tuxedo Black to Sunset Orchid made up a wide array of 1957 color combinations for the Mercury model line. Exterior colors and interior trim selections were great looking and very stylish. The new Mercury’s “Dream Car” styling was based on the XM-Turnpike Cruiser an experimental model which was introduced in January, 1956 and received national approval on its concept design during a coast-to-coast tour.

In conclusion, the 1957 Mercury station wagon model series included three commuter models, a two-door, six passenger wagon, a four door ,six passenger and four-door nine passenger wagon. The exclusive Colony Park wagon with simulated wood-grained exterior trim came in a four-door, 9-passenger model.

 


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