Mercury, The Best-Built Car in America


Don’t Buy Any Car Until You’ve Driven it on the Road-Tuned 1960 Mercury.

Mercury has traditionally been the Ford division that flexes to meet market demands more than any other. The best reason that can be given is that the mid-price market

sees the most frequent changes. Early on in life, Mercury was the “senior” Ford model. It looked like a Ford, was usually powered by a variation of a Ford engine, and was

trimmed similarly to the upper-price Ford models. In the fifties, as Americans became more affluent, the Mercury moved upscale with them, and for the first time had become more of a “junior” Lincoln, rather than a “senior” Ford.

When Ford looked at adding a fourth line, the “E-Car” or Edsel, to the line, Ford executives felt that they could position the Edsel into the market held by Mercury, and move Mercury farther upmarket into territory that, twenty years earlier, would have been held by the Lincoln Zephyr.

When the Edsel failed to meet expectations, Ford shifted the Edsel down market, overlapping many Ford models in the process, and brought the Mercury back into its former market position.

To demonstrate this shift, a price comparison of the top model convertibles available for each year gives insight into the marketing strategy. 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 $2900 $4103 $4118 $4206 $4018 $3126 Throughout this market shifting, the Monterey be-

came the mainstay of the line, and the most popular of all the Mercury models. Engine choices were similar to prior years, and the only noteworthy model change for 1960 was the elimination of the 2-Door Station Wagon body style.

What made really big news for 1960 was the all-new Comet model. Technically not a Mercury until the 1962 model year, the Comet was a stand-alone model, marketed primarily by Mercury dealers. This would be the first six- cylinder powered Mercury ever.

Based largely on the Ford Falcon, the Comet was slightly larger and better equipped, and was styled to look like the smaller Mercury that it was. Power train and model availability was similar to those on the Falcon.

Introduction of the Comet was very successful, and created a nearly unheard of 85 percent increase in model year sales for the Mercury division (Comet sales were calculated with Mercury for 1960 and 1961), making up for many lost Edsel sales.

It is now widely believed that originally the Comet was intended as an Edsel replacement as Ford fought against the public perception that the Edsel was a failure.

1960 • Mercury 52

Comet 2-Door Wagon

Monterey 4-Door Sedan

Comet 4-Door Sedan

Commuter 4-Door Hardtop Wagon Park Lane 4-Door Cruiser Hardtop

Model year production: 271,331, up 85.2% over 1959. Domestic market share: 4.50% (8th place). Base price range: $1,998 to $4,018. Industry average base price: $3,391. Mercury average base price: $3,025. Introduction date: October, 1959.

Assembly plants: Lorain, OH (H); Los Angeles, CA (J); Kansas City, MO (K); San Jose, CA (R); Wixom, MI (S); Metuchen, NJ (T); Wayne, MI (W); St. Louis, MO (Z).

Data plate identification: Eleven digit code read as follows: 0 for 1960; 2nd digit is assembly plant code; 3rd digit is series (0 is Comet, 3 is Monterey, 4 is Montclair and 5 is Park Lane); 4th digit is body style; 5th digit is engine code; 500001 and up for serial number (800001 and up for Comet).

Example: 0W33 P100001 is a 1960 Mercury Mon- terey 2-Door Hardtop with a 312 CID V8 engine, serial number 500001, built in Wayne, MI.

Power trains Gross Engine Transmission Commuter & Colony Park Engine HP Code Availability Comet Monterey & Montclair Park Lane 144.3 CID Thrift-Power Six, 1-bbl., 6-cylinder. 85 S 3-speed manual S.

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