The car that makes or breaks any top collection is a limited production car with provenance, such as a ’57 Oldsmobile 98 J2 Convertible, a ’58 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, a ’58 Edsel Citation Convertible or a ’53 Packard Carribean Convertible. In the same company as these great American marques is the 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser Indy Pace Car Convertible. This could be the center piece of any serious collection.
You can see many photos of a very rare and desirable 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser Indy Pace Car Convertible which has been posted for sale by Auto Investors from Dothan, Alabama. This rare example is stunning from top to bottom featuring an arrow straight body that has been finished in Sun Glitter yellow and covered in all new chrome and stainless. Auto Investors tells us that all the glass and weatherstripping has been replaced along with a new black cloth convertible top. The interior has been finished in it’s correct black and yellow trim with all new chrome hardware. Click through to the ad at the link above. The photos reveal an incredible treasure. They say the 368 ci Turnpike engine has been rebuilt. They consider the condition to be all show quality.
It was in 1957 that Mercury pulled out all the stops to produce the first new Mercury design which did not share body styles with the Ford line. They called it the “dream car design.” A wider new frame created a lower center of gravity on a 122″ wheelbase. When it was announced that the Turnpike Cruiser would pace the Indianapolis 500 race in ’57, Mercury came out with its convertible version of the Cruiser. Mercury gave it a one-piece “wrap-around” rear window treatment design which spanned 77 inches across. They also dressed the convertible version of the Turnpike Cruiser up with unique rear fender design and an austentatious Continental kit mounted on a unique chromed extended bumper carrier. The Turnpike Cruiser was equipped with front coil springs with semi-elliptic rear leaf springs and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. The “Quadra-Beam” headlights were so bright and advanced they were banned in Tennessee and South Dakota.
Mercury’s standard engine was a 255-base horsepower 312 ci V8. But Turnpike Cruisers were powered by a 368 ci Lincoln motor with a 4-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust, rated at 290 horsepower at 4600 rpm. A plate on the right rocker cover identified it as a “Turnpike Cruiser Engine” and a blue ID disc adorned the front fender. All Turnpike Cruisers used Merc-O-Matic automatic transmissions new keyboard (push button) controls, new for ’57.
Only 1,265 Mercury Turnpike convertibles were produced in ’57. Since the convertible version of the Turnpike Cruiser came out only after it was announced that it would be the Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500 race it is understandable that a good number of the convertible Turnpike Cruisers were Indy Pace Car replicas. These were made available all over the country to Mercury dealers as promotional cars. Experts think that a large portion of the Turnpike Cruiser convertibles were Pace Car replicas since it is considered that Pace Car replicas were made available to at least one out of every 3 franchise Mercury dealers all over the country.
This car was the featured writeup in the February 28th edition of the Cars On Line newsletter. Click here to view the newsletter.