Autumn 1962. The idyllic days of Camelot. President John F. Kennedy was alive and well, and so was Marilyn Monroe. The big upheavals of the Sixties, like the Birmingham race riots and the full-scale war in Vietnam, had yet to take place. Hi-test gas was cheap and the Big Three were healthy, launching some of the best, most excitingly designed automobiles to ever emerge from Detroit. And, yes, the horsepower race was on again; the template of the classic American Muscle Car was being cast during this time.
Manufactured on October 25, 1962 at Mr. Ford's St. Louis, Missouri plant, this 1963 Mercury Monterey Breezeway 2-door hardtop is one of the finest representatives of this pivotal era you'll ever find. Sold new for just under 3 Grand, the car featured a 300-horse big block engine wrapped in large but relatively lithe bodywork, with none of the many gadgets that could turn a Merc into an overweight dinosaur.
A true survivor, the car has covered a mere 76,244 actual miles in 46 years; that's less than 1,700 miles, annually!
Sold new in Modesto, California, VIN *3Z53Z506750* was lovingly cared for by just two local, adult owners ever since it was driven off the showroom floor. The car never left the Golden State and is still registered to its irreplaceable, original-issue, black-and-gold California license plates.
Let's have a closer look at this magnificent automobile now, shall we?
Motorvation comes from the original Mercury 390 cubic inch "Z" code 300-hp V-8 engine, factory-equipped with a 4-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust. Sending all that power via Mercury's Multi-Drive automatic transmission to the optional 3.50:1 rear end, it provides very lively performance, indeed. Power assisted brakes and steering ensure pleasurable maneuvering, even in today's traffic.
Engine compartment looks showroom clean. Mechanically, the big Merc is in primo condition throughout. The engine starts without hesitation at the first turn of the key and there's no smoke, no untoward noise, no ill behavior of any kind to report, not even any annoying fluid leaks.
The undercarriage presents itself all natural, not tampered with, not beautified with any spray can artistry. We carefully washed off forty-six years of California road dust, unveiling a 100% rust free, untouched underside that's ready to pass anyone's close scrutiny with flying colors. Having spent all its life in California's dry central valley, the car's floor pans are pristinely preserved.
The good news continues here. Finished in its original color of Champagne ("T" code) with an off-white hardtop, there is no prior accident damage, nor any rust, paint bubbling, scratches, nicks, chips, gouges, dings, dents, or other blemishes that could cause the enthusiast sleepless nights.
Monterey features deep, glossy paint, perfect-fitting body panels, superb original brightwork, and supple weatherstripping throughout.
Next, we open the thick, vault-like driver's door to check out the extra roomy interior.
Featuring the best of early 1960s styling, the color-coordinated, heat-embossed door panels, headliner, and sun visors are in pristine condition. Original owner added a map pocket to driver's door.
Breathtakingly beautiful, jet-age dashboard proudly displays acres of chrome. There's virtually no wear on pedal rubbers or steering wheel, just like you would expect to find on a low-mileage automobile.
The vulnerable dash top, almost always displaying at least some heat-induced cracks, wavyness, or discoloration--here it is absolutely perfect, as if it was installed yesterday!
Instrument cluster features full assortment of hooded gauges, beautifully finished with ribbed chrome bezels, anodized aluminum dials, and day-glo orange pointers.
Note the loving attention the Dearborn stylists paid to every last detail, down to the smallest switch and lever.
Close-ups of heater controls and factory-installed AM radio. Everything functions just like on the day the car left the factory! The dash lights sparkle, the radio has that mellow tone modern gadgets could never hope to achieve, the dome light still illuminates the cockpit at night. The original owner's manual still resides inside the glove box.
The heater system had never been used, thus was completely rebuilt by the car's last owner, including a new heater core, heater control valve, and blower motor. It works flawlessly.
Traditional bench seats front and rear are upholstered in a very attractive, Honey Gold-and-beige two-tone ostrich-and-crush-grain vinyl. There are no rips, tears, or stains to be found.
Rear seat comfortably seats three large dults. Despite featuring a beautiful 2-door hardtop design, the Monterey is a full six seater.
First introduced on Mercury's stunning '57 Turnpike Cruiser and revived for the '63 model year, the Breezeway rear window can be electrically retracted.
Motor Trend Magazine wrote in 1963: "The window has three primary advantages, all equally valuable as far as we're concerned. There is, of course, more head room for rear seat passengers than with the window sloped in the regular manner. The window's roof overhang provides a generous sunshade for the rear seat. Finally, the window opens, operated by a dash control, and is very handy as a ventilation aid."
With the dash vents open and the rear window lowered, Breezeway passengers can enjoy an air-conditioning-like effect on hot days.
Ready for a test drive?
Sure, but before we take off, let's have a look at the trunk!
As you'd expect, the luggage compartment is cavernous. It looks big enough for a microcar to park in. Trunk lining, spare wheel, and jacking equipment are all original.
Note working trunk light and perfect trunk seal. Paint inside deck lid is as glossy as exterior's.
Correct 14-inch painted steel wheels feature gorgeous original full hub caps and something special: Like-new WWW RADIAL tires of the dimension 215/75-R14 on all 4 corners.
Friday, January 2, 2009, was a lovely winter day here in paradise. Although a bit chilly with temperatures in the high 50s, it was sunny enough for us to lower all 5 windows and head out for a long-awaited test drive.
In a nutshell, the Mercury performs flawlessly. It starts, idles, runs, drives, handles, steers, and stops "as new."
Effortlessly gliding along highways and byways with the grace of a swan, the Breezeway is a living reminder of a time when cruising on the freeway was relaxed affair and American iron ruled the road. Now, you don't really need 300 horses, but we'll gladly take each and every one of them, immersing ourselves in the glorious sounds, epicurean comforts, and delectable visual pleasures of this legendary cruiser.
121,048 full-size Mercurys were built in the 1963 model year, among them a mere 3,879Monterey Breezeway 2-door hardtops. How many might have survived for 46 years? Of those, how many are in this sparkling clean, absolutely rust free condition; a handful, perhaps?
Make no mistake, this prime example is ready to be shown at any Mercury Club Concours this weekend and would be much admired, most likely even win a trophy in its class.
If you are a Mercury aficionado, a connoisseur of fine 1960s Americana, or just enjoy driving a heirloom-quality, black-license-plate California cruiser, this Mercury might be just the ticket.
Any 46 year-old car presenting itself in this extra-fine condition must rank as a very lucky find, indeed!
You are most welcome to inspect this fine automobile at our location in Ventura, by appointment, or have someone inspect it for you.
Please, direct all inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or call them at 805-653-5551
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