Car of the Week: 1960 Mercury Monterey convertible

The full-sized offering intended to separate Mercury from the house of Ford.
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Car of the Week 2020
The dual horizontal headlights are more widely spaced apart than on most cars and the concave grille insert shows between them.

The dual horizontal headlights are more widely spaced apart than on most cars and the concave grille insert shows between them.

The new line of full-sized Mercurys announced on October 15, 1959, was the last to come from a separate Mercury Division of Ford Motor Co. In November 1959, effective with the discontinuation of the Edsel, a new Lincoln-Mercury Division was formed. It was charged with the responsibility of marketing Lincoln, Mercury and Comet automobiles, as well as some imports such as the British Ford Anglia, Consul and Prefect.

Ben D. Mills, a Ford vice president, was named general manager of Lincoln-Mercury Division, the same title he had held at Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln Division. C.E. Bowie was the Mercury General Sales Manager and got off to a good start by increasing model-year production to 155,000 units. The best-selling big Mercury for 1960 was the Monterey.

This car has wind-up windows, but power window lifts were an available option. Convertible tops came in white, black, tan, light blue and light green.

This car has wind-up windows, but power window lifts were an available option. Convertible tops came in white, black, tan, light blue and light green.

The entry-level full-size Merc had 102,539 assemblies for the 1960 model year. Of those, only 6,062 were Monterey convertibles such as the white car featured here. Gary and Bonnie Miller brought this beauty to the Madison Classics car show and swap meet in Jefferson, Wis. They had a new car like this one and wanted to relive the past by getting another. The convertible appeared to be in original condition, but had a later 460-cid V-8.

The Monterey convertible was one of 17 Mercury full-size models offered in four series for 1960: Monterey, Montclair, Park Lane and Station Wagon. The 1960 Mercurys had a clean, custom car look that spoke of good value. Mercury had decided to abandon the more radical “Dream Car Design” styling of the past few years and replaced it with a conservative, luxury-car image. On a model-for-model basis, prices were reduced about $200 from 1959. Special emphasis was placed on marketing the lower-priced Monterey models over the more profitable, premium-priced Montclair and Park Lane versions.

An inside lock release for that long, long trunk lid was a factory option for 1960 Mercurys. Montereys were 219.2 inches from bumper to bumper.

An inside lock release for that long, long trunk lid was a factory option for 1960 Mercurys. Montereys were 219.2 inches from bumper to bumper.

“You’ll look a long time before matching Mercury’s beauty at such a low price,” ads for the 1960 models said. Such ads avoided mentions of the Montclair and Park Lane. However, all of the full-size Mercs had completely new styling with a downward sloping hood and front fenders. A new concave grille bridged the space between dual horizontal headlamps. The rear fender projectiles of 1957-1959 were gone. Vertical taillamp assemblies, housed in oval bumper ends, replaced the triangular taillamps of 1959.

Monterey was the base line, although the five models in this line look anything but basic today. Four-door sedan and hardtop body styles were joined by two-door versions of those styles. The fifth Monterey model was the convertible, which was priced at $3,077 in standard form. Montereys had their name in chrome script on the rear fenders and an enamel-finished rear grille. This convertible has a red-and-white vinyl interior.

Someone added funky-looking spotlights on each front fender. They are operated by handles that come through the padded dashboard just ahead of the vent windows.

Someone added funky-looking spotlights on each front fender. They are operated by handles that come through the padded dashboard just ahead of the vent windows.

Montereys were the only Mercs available with stick shift, but most had Merc-O-Matic automatic transmissions. “Road-Tuned” wheels; “3-speed Safety-Sweep” windshield wipers; “Chair High” front and rear seats; a “Panoramic Skylight” wraparound windshield and a “Jet Stream” heater and defroster were among 1960 Mercury selling features. The cars also had “Super Enamel” finishes; a “Safety” steering wheel; Safety Plate Glass in every window; “Ridgidized” body construction; and a hefty “Safety Width” box girder frame.

Standard Mercury equipment also included self-adjusting brakes; directional signals; padded garnish moldings; foam front seat cushions; a carburetor air cleaner with a disposable paper filter; a disposable paper element fuel filter; a full-flow oil filter; 8.00 x 15 or 8.50 x 15 Tyrex Cord tires; dual front fender ornaments; an aluminized muffler; and Teflon bearings in the ball-joint front suspension.

Carried over from the “Dream Car Design” years that started in 1957 was this unusual style of a Mercury convertible top.

Carried over from the “Dream Car Design” years that started in 1957 was this unusual style of a Mercury convertible top.

The Monterey convertible was designated Model 76A. Although economical by Mercury standards, it was a large car that tipped the scales at 4,161 lbs. This droptop had a unique roof line that had more of the look of a speedboat’s canopy than a car top.

The Miller’s beautiful Monterey has dual exhausts, cruiser-style fender skirts, twin fender-mounted spotlights, full wheel discs and whitewall tires. This model may not have as huge a following as a ’57 Bel Air convertible or a Mustang drop top, but — on the other hand — you’re not likely to see another open-air ‘60 Mercury Monterey at the next car show. No wonder it attracted a lot of attention at the Jefferson car show.

A wraparound windshield was standard and considered a safety feature. Mercury even offered a belt-driven windshield washer (not on this car) as an extra-cost option.

A wraparound windshield was standard and considered a safety feature. Mercury even offered a belt-driven windshield washer (not on this car) as an extra-cost option.

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