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Home/Technical Info/Mercury/ 11. Car Models Described/
Mercury's Post-War Story: 1946 through 1958

The 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser was the first Mercury that could go head to head
with DeSoto, Oldsmobile, and Buick in size, price, performance, and luxury.
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From upscale Fords to lower-level Lincolns

When Mercury was first envisioned in 1939, the thought was that Ford needed a car to fill the gap between the Lincoln Zephyr and the hot-selling Fords. Initially, the car was seen as an upscale Ford, not a downscale Lincoln. Until WW II intervened, that was the thinking.

With the return to production in 1946, the upscale Ford theme prevailed, but as the post war years moved into the onset of the 50's, Chrysler and GM recognized that the upper mid-price was an appealing place to sell cars to the more affluent public that was growing due to a booming, post-war economy.

Ford was caught napping, and it had a hole to fill. Ford did not want to damage the Lincoln brand's prestige by returning to a Zephyr model -- and in fact they found that name outdated, so what to do?

The result was to make the Mercury look more Lincoln-like, keep the price moderate, and try to capture this new class of consumers. As a result, Mercury would bounce around. Sometimes it was a higher-priced Ford; sometimes it was a lower priced Lincoln. And when the Edsel appeared, the buyer was even more confused. It wasn't until 1965, when Ford made a decision to make Mercury its sole medium-price field offering, that the brand began to enjoy steady sales and no consumer confusion.

1946-48 Mercury

After World War II, Ford combined Mercury and Lincoln into the Lincoln-Mercury division. With this move, Mercury was positioned closer to Lincoln in order to gain prestige for the brand. The 1946-1948 Mercurys were little changed from the 1942 models, with few upgrades, but basically providing solid, clean-lined transportation.

  • 1946 Mercury Detailed - Click HERE
  • 1947 Mercury Detailed - Click HERE
  • 1948 Mercury Detailed - Click HERE

1949-51 Mercury

As Ford Motor Company introduced its first new post-war designs for 1949, the "Mercury Eight," as it was called, and the Lincoln shared much of their body shell aside from the front fascia with Mercury utilizing its own headlights, grille, and sporting its own wheelbase of 118 inches. And, of course, Mercury and Lincoln featured different levels of interior trim, with Lincoln more upscale and Mercury closer to Ford. The postwar Mercury Eight proved very popular, and its clean lines would find favor with the hot rod and custom set.

  • 1949 Mercury Detailed - Click HERE
  • 1950 Mercury Detailed - Click HERE
  • 1951 Mercury Detailed - Click HERE

1952-53 Mercury

Since its 1939 introduction and until the introduction of the new body style in 1952, Mercury had consisted of a single-vehicle model line. Since many of its medium-price competitors had begun to expand their model ranges, so Mercury followed suit in that year. For 1952, the Mercury lineup doubled in size. With the introduction of the new body style, Mercury borrowed a name that had been sub-model of a Mercury Eight coupe in 1950, the "Monterey," which would be the upper-level series, and the "Custom," which would the entry-level car.

Mercury still shared body panels with Lincoln, but the new look was not as well received as the previous "bubble" look of 1949-51, and the Korean War recession hurt. The famous "flathead" V-8 did have increased HP resulting from a full point increase in compression, but it lagged behind DeSoto and Oldsmobile in power and performance. Little was changed for 1953; however, sales rebounded.

  • 1952 Mercury Detailed - Click HERE
  • 1953 Mercury Detailed - Click HERE

1954-56 Mercury

For 1954, the long-running flathead V8 was replaced by an overhead-valve 256 CID Y-Block V8 that developed 162 solid HP -- but that was still  behind its competition at Oldsmobile and DeSoto. Regardless, the change was well received.

In 1955, the Mercury line was expanded to three by adding the Montclair at the top. As before, the body shared much of its styling with the standard Lincoln. The V-8 moved up to 292 CID and now was competitive. For 1956, the Custom was replaced by the "Medalist" as the lowest-trim model. Once again the Y-Block expanded to 312 CID, its final iteration, though it was capable of going out to 322 CID, but this never happened.

  • 1954 Mercury Detailed - Click HERE
  • 1955 Mercury Detailed - Click HERE
  • 1956 Mercury Detailed - Click HERE

1957-58 Mercury

For 1957, the wheelbase grew to 122 inches, and Mercury received its own unique styling and body panels. Also debuting was the inclusion of the Lincoln 368 CID V-8 in the Turnpike Cruiser model, giving the top-line Mercurys a power plant that could compete with Olds and DeSoto.

In 1957, Mercury was given a redesigned model lineup; for the first time since 1948, the division did not share a common body with Lincoln. While the lower-end Medalist was discontinued, Mercury gained a distinctive flagship in the Turnpike Cruiser. The brand now featured this along with the Monterey and Montclair. Mercury now competed with Pontiac at the low end, Oldsmobile DeSoto in the middle, and Buick at the top.

As the pace car of that year's Indianapolis 500, the Turnpike Cruiser stood out in a crowd with its gold-colored fin trim and reverse-slant retractable rear window. Also in '57, following Ford, Mercury split its station wagon line into a distinct model line with the introduction of the base Commuter, mid-price Voyager, and wood-grain Colony Park.

In 1958, the Lincoln-Mercury division underwent even more major changes as Lincoln moved upmarket with the addition of Edsel. A five-vehicle division, nearly the entire Edsel line, overlapped Mercury in price. Now the line featured the returning Medalist, Monterey, Montclair and Park Lane, solidifying it as competition for Dodge DeSoto and even the Chrysler Newport - as well as once again going up against all GM brands from Pontiac to Buick.

Engines spanned a gap needed to compete within those lines and went from the 312 Y-block in the Medalist all the way up to the 430 CID MEL V-8 in the Turnpike Cruiser and Park Lane. Mercury became the first automaker to sell production automobiles with an advertised 400-horsepower engine; the three 2-barrel carburetor Super Marauder 400 HP 430 CID V-8 was an option in all Mercury vehicles.

  • 1957 Mercury Detailed - Click HERE
  • 1958 Mercury Detailed - Click HERE

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