Car of the Week: 1963 Mercury Meteor

By Brian Earnest

When they take their hobby car out for a drive, there isn’t much of a chance David and Patricia Couling will run across any other black Mercury Meteors cruising around Mobile Ala.. In fact, there isn’t much chance they will spot a Meteor of any color or vintage.

They’d probably wave to the driver of Duesenberg or ’53 Corvette before they meet another Meteor going the other way.

“To the best of my knowledge, there are only three ’63 Meteors registered in the state of Alabama,” says Patricia. “And we’ve owned two of the three!”

As happens so often in the old car hobby, the couple’s unlikely purchase of one car led to an even more unlikely acquisition of a second car. The Coulings bought their first Mercury rarity in 2006 after a trip to Mississippi. “We drove to a show, and we saw the car and on our trip back we started talking about it,” Patricia recalled. “And we got about halfway home and we said, ‘When we get home, let’s call on it.’”

Before long, the couple was heading back to Mississippi to pick up a pale yellow ’63 Meteor two-door sedan that the couple fittingly nicknamed “Lucky.”

“The gentleman from whom we purchased Lucky acquired the car from St. Bernard Parish, La., and moved it to Pascagoula, Miss., Mississippi where he lived,” Patricia said. “Then he decided to move the car to his daughter’s home in central Mississippi just days before Hurricane Katrina. Lucky is a fortunate survivor.

“His home was wiped out. As far as I know, he never went back and rebuilt, and he had to make some decisions on what to get rid of. He had just started in on the Meteors, so they went first.”

Not long after they landed Lucky, the couple was surfing online for parts and came across a black ’63 Meteor Custom series hardtop, and before they knew it they were on a plane headed for Apache Junction, Az. “We got it from a guy who bought it new — well, his father bought it new, ” David said. “And the father died, and the son didn’t want to fix it up, so we piled in it and drove it all the way home. I never knew Texas was so wide! We had quite the trip home. It was unbelievable.

“When I first bought it, I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to drive that car all the way across the country?’ And I figured it would wander like an old goose, you know? But it handled well, and we had no problems.”

Eventually, the couple sold the first car, “Lucky,” to a fellow Mobile car buff. “He wanted to do a full frame-off restoration on it, but I haven’t seen it,” David said. “I really don’t know what happened to it.”

Patricia favored the black coupe over the first car because it has an optional automatic transmission mated to its 260-cid, 164-hp V-8, which was also optional. The base mill in the ’63 Meteors was a 170-cid, 101-hp six-cylinder.

“With that 260 it, it’s a great rider,” Patricia said.

The Meteors are certainly among the more obscure Ford offerings of the 1960s, and go largely overlooked even by die-hard Ford enthusiasts. The Meteor line was built only from 1961-’63 and featured lower-end, full-sized vehicles akin to the Fairlane series.

Though there seemingly wasn’t much reason not to like them, the Meteors never gained much of a following, and disappeared for good after the ’63 model year. That year, the cars were offered in Meteor and Meteor Custom varieties, with the latter being identified by the chrome side window trim, full-length lower body moldings and more chrome on the roof quarter panels. The Custom series also had special interiors and carpeting.

Among the options available on the ’63 Meteors were: two-speed windshield wipers ($7.75), air conditioning ($231.70), padded instrument panel ($19.95), outside remote-control rearview mirror ($12), padded visors ($5.20), power steering ($61.70), tinted glass ($40.30), whitewall tires ($37), wheel covers ($16.60), windshield washer ($13.70), push-button radio ($58.50), font seat belts ($16.80) and two-tone paint ($22). Overdrive, four-speed manual and Merc-O-Matic automatic transmissions were optional. A 221-cid/145-hp V-8 (two-barrel) and a 260-cid/164-hp V-8 were available.

“Pretty much it was a Fairlane,” David said. “Mechanically, and upholstery-wise, it’s all Fairlane, and that’s the neat part about finding parts for it. Except for some chrome parts, which are all Mercury, the car is mechanically all Fairlane. So getting parts is not a problem.”

The four-door sedans were the most popular of the base Meteor series for ’63, with 9,183 copies rolling off the assembly lines. Only 3,935 of the two-door sedans, like the Coulings’ yellow Meteor, were built. The one-step-up Custom series had five different offerings, with the four-door sedan being the most popular with 14,498 produced. The two-door hardtops were next at 7,565.

“They are not very common in this area,” Patricia said. “Most of the [cars] I come across on the phone or Internet are in California, Washington state, and Montana, believe it not. And they seem to be very popular just across the border in Canada in the mining areas up there. For some reason there are a lot of them up there.”

David noted that there is also a Meteor cruising the mythical streets of Mayberry on “The Andy Griffith Show.” That’s about the only time he sees one. “It’s the episode where Barney Fife buys a car,” he says with a laugh. “There is a ’63 Meteor wagon in that episode!”

The Coulings’ Meteor has 54,000 miles on it and the couple doesn’t have any big restoration or repair plans for the car beyond perhaps a new paint job. David concedes that the black hardtop could eventually get a companion in the garage if the couple can ever track down a Meteor station wagon from 1963, “but we’ve seen one around here. Those are really rare.”

One thing is for certain, the rare black Mercury won’t be for sale anytime soon. “It’s mine and mine forever,” says David with a hearty laugh. “I’ve sold my first one, but I figure since this one made it all the home from Arizona, it’s going to stay in my garage!”

To learn more about the rarel Mercury Meteor, check out the digital download “Mercury 1961-75 Standard Statistics.”

Click here to see the rest of our “Car of the Week” archives.

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12 thoughts on “Car of the Week: 1963 Mercury Meteor

    1. ellis

      I have a 1963 Mercury Meteor 4 Door custom,all original,2 tone paint torquise body white roof,221-v8,and this car JUST TURNED 28458 miles.YES JUST 28,458 MILES!!.I llove this car.Was owned by a little old lady who only drove it to church on sunday,REALLY

  1. Chuck

    My boss has been getting a 63 s33 custom 2 door put back together for his son. It just had the engine redone, and today I went through the brakes and repacked wheel bearings today, waiting for a radiator, and the carb needs a little tuning, but I drove it from the mechanic that rebuilt the motor to my shop and it’s definitely a cruiser. Totally stock, black with the red stripe just like the one pictured here. The one my boss has started life in washington, and now is residing in northern california. What a car. :)

  2. Mark Sigfrinius

    I just acquired a 1962 Mercury Meteor 2dr sedan. Someone at some time replaced the original engine and transmission with a 289 V8 & a C4 automatic. Newer custom interior and a respray of the original Black Cherry paint. Body is really straight but could use the bumpers re-chromed. Really fun to drive and it’s the only one I have ever seen. Nice to know about the Fairlane parts because it could use new door panels. The 1962 had a tube radio. 1963 went transister and is exactly the same on the outside. Sure could use one of those too cause finding tubes is probably impossible. Lots of Mustangs around but the Meteor is really special.

  3. CruizerWag

    Greetings,

    Mine is a 1963 Mercury Meteor Country Cruiser 8 passenger wagon. I have always wanted a Meteor wagon as they are quite odd and obscure. I did stumble upon one. What was cool is it has no rust.

  4. michael mandel

    I’ve got a black ’63 Mercury Meteor Sedan with original 221-V8 and 3-speed manual column shifting transmission with overdrive. Mechanically 100% original and It’s been my daily driver for a year now on the streets of Brooklyn NYC

  5. Rob

    I’ve had my ’63 hardtop since 1966. Peacock Turquoise with a Sultana White top, always gets attention wherever it goes! Original 260 still runs perfect and sounds ultra sweet.

  6. Stew

    I just picked up a 63 Meteor custom not too sure if its the 221 or 260 V8 125000 KM (78000 Miles). The engine runs good, exterior and interior in good to fair condition. Looking forward to many enjoyable years with my new find here in AB Canada.

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