1963 Mercury Monterey S-55 Survivor

1963 Mercury Monterey S-55 Survivor

“A car is only original once.” That’s the old saw that car collectors like to use to stress the importance of originality when you own an old classic. It really make a difference to some of us. This week we renewed an old acquaintance here at the Cars-On-Line office. It was in 2010 when we first noticed this 1963 Mercury Monterey S-55 at the Iola Car Show in Iola, Wisconsin. It was in the featured display that year. It is one of the best kept survivor cars you will ever see. This week it was put up for sale right here on the Cars-On-Line.com website. It just goes to show, whatever goes around, comes around. 

The private party collector and owner of this 1963 Mercury Monterey S-55 4-Door Hardtop thinks it might be the lowest-mile American car in existence from 1963. Ford Motor Company has verified that it has only 7,200 miles from new.  That in itself is a story worth writing about. But there is more. This 1963 Mercury Monterey is a Breezeway with the 6.4 liter 390 ci V8 Marauder big block motor. It has the “Y” in the VIN code. They called it a Sport Sedan back then, and there were only 50 of them produced. This car has collectibility in spades. (Click here to review the private ad currently posted on Cars-On-Line.com.) And it has all the paperwork to verify its history. For car collectors, this car is like a blueprint for “How to buy a collector car.” 

As all great collector cars do, this one has a great story behind it, too. It was a wedding present for a newly wed couple in 1963. But by 1964 there was a divorce and this car was hidden away in storage for the next 36 years. Thus the low miles. The seller says there was some mechanical work done to it over the years, but he says only OEM parts were used. 

As we said at the top of this article, we originally saw this 1963 Mercury Monterey S-55 with the Marauder engine at the Iola Car Show in 2010. Any time we find old Mercs with the Marauder big block motors we get interested. There is a small sub culture of Mercury collectors who are intensely interested in the Marauder 428 and 390 big block cars. (Here is a link to a feature we did on this car back in 2010.) At the Iola Show it was said to be an unrestored survivor with only 6,400 original miles. They must have only driven it another 800 miles since then. We noted that it had spectacular chrome and trim and the Breezeway power rear window is still admired as a big deal for 1963.  

In 2010, we wrote: “But my jaw dropped when I realized what I was looking at … This is a rare 1963 Mercury Monterey S-55 with a Marauder 390 V8 big block motor. There were only 1,203 4-Door Montereys produced with the S-55 option. Fewer than 50 came with the Marauder 390 V8. Among the accolades this trailer queen has received, the curators of the Henry Ford Museum called it the best ‘Survivor-in-Kind.’ They say it has factory air conditioning.”

Mercury Breezeway

The term Breezeway was used on Mercury and Lincoln cars to describe the retractable rear window, a Ford-Mercury invention. When Mercury used the slanted back window on the 1957 and 1958 Turnpike Cruisers, it had a radical look. It was also used on the 1958 to 1960 Continental Mark III, IV and V. When opened even slightly, it created powerful air ventilation through the car. The retractable glass back window was power operated by a control switch on the drivers arm rest.

The Breezeway concept back window was reintroduced by Mercury in 1963. In fact, Mercury put on a big marketing campaign touting its many uses. The retracting glass design fit perfectly with the trendy reverse sloped Z-line roof that came on the Park Lane, Montclair and Monterey. It was available in both two-door and four-door styles, pillarless hardtop and post bodies.

Ford figured the use of air conditioning would make the Breezeway superfluous and discontinued it altogether after 1968.  



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One Response to 1963 Mercury Monterey S-55 Survivor

  1. Dean Kuchta February 24, 2021 at 8:11 pm #

    When I was a very young child growing up in Dearborn Heights, Michigan in the early-to-mid 1960’s, my father owned two Mercury vehicles with the “Breezeway” (roll-down rear window) option. I remember both of them quite well.

    The first vehicle was a 1963 Mercury Monterey 4-door sedan. Its color was an interesting silvery pink hue called “Pink Frost,” I believe. The interior was also a similar shade, color-wise. Dad owned this car for about two years, from 1963 until sometime in 1965. One interesting thing I remember about this vehicle is that my father had the front seats retrofitted with seat belts. Most vehicles at that time did not come from the factory with seat belts already installed.

    I went on several vacations in the car, namely, down south to the Smoky Mountains in 1963, the Wisconsin Dells, and several trips to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where my mother was from. In late 1962, or early 1963, we also took a family trip to Niagara Falls, and it may have also been in this vehicle. Dad also chauffered my older sister to the church in this vehicle on her wedding day in August 1964.

    The 2nd Mercury “Breezeway” vehicle that my father owned was a white with red interior 1965 Mercury Montclair. Montclair was the mid-range trim option, slotted above the low-end Monterey and below the top-of -the-line Parklane. Dad purchased this vehicle sometime during the first half of 1965, I believe. I was in Kindergarten when he got it.

    This car did come with seat belts as standard equipment, but only on the front seat. There were no seat belts in the rear. The car came with only an AM radio, so Dad had a Motorola FM radio installed under the dashboard. The car did not come with air conditioning.

    We went on several family vacations in this vehicle. Of note were a trip to the World’s Fair in New York City in 1965, a trip out west to California in the summer of 1966, a trip to the World’s Fair in Montreal, Canada in 1967, and a trip to Pennsylvania Dutch Country in 1968. Interspersed with these vacations were numerous shorter trips to Milwaukee in the 1965 to 1968 time frame.

    For our 1966 trip to California, since the car did not have air conditioning, my father borrowed one of those “swamp cooler” type air conditioning units from a gentleman he worked with, and affixed it to the roof of the car, just above the passenger-side front window. This was one of those units that was something like a round drum that you filled with water, and then pulled a string to “recharge” it. I apologize for not knowing the “physics” of how this thing actually worked, but it did help keep the interior of our car reasonably cool while we traveled throughout the hot Southwest that summer. Whenever someone pulled the string on this unit, they got a little bit of a refreshing shower of water! How about that!

    Both of these vehicle were generally reliable, but I do remember that the starter solenoid on the 1965 model failed in September 1968, necessitating a tow.

    In December 1968, Dad traded in the 1965 for a brand new lime green color 1969 Mercury Monterey 4-Door sedan. The “Breezeway” option was long gone from the Mercury vehicles by then.

    It sure would be neat to have either one of these vehicles today!

    Thanks for listening, folks! Take care.

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