Welcome to Little Car in the Big City, where we highlight fascinating cars we found walking around a town that is known for being bigger than everything else, but where every car is fighting to stand out: New York, New York.
You can’t store your old navy caps, brims covered in embroidery the color and texture of scrambled eggs, on the rear sill of this beige Mercury, but I can see how you might be tempted. It’s okay, you’re not alone. Most of us still picture all Mercurys pulling out of chain buffet parking lots ahead of the evening dinner rush, but I think we can do better. And This 1964 Mercury Monterey is here to help.
Before becoming a rebadge cousin of the Ford Freestar minivan, the Monterey was Mercury’s mid-sized offering, sharing much under its chrome-festooned with Ford’s Galaxie. Like most mainstream American cars at the time, a variety of bodies were offered including two and four-door hardtops, a sedan, a wagon and a convertible.
I don’t know what this specific car has under the hood, but the options were not much different from what was available in the contemporary Galaxie, from a 223 cubic inch straight-6 to a 406 cubic inch FE V8. I’m guessing this car has more cylinders rather than less, but I don’t know for sure.
The killer feature on the Monterey, though not equipped to all models, was the Breezeway rear window, which could be lowered kind of like the rear window of some pickup trucks. The feature was first previewed back in 1957 on the Turnpike Cruiser concept car I discussed a few weeks back and finally found its way into a Mercury model in 1963 though it would be available on some Lincoln Continentals in the years between. This scar was built one model year later, and still features the quirk, which lends the car more than a little resemblance to Citroen’s Ami.
This particular Monterey appears to be a project. The rear bench has been removed and the front seats look kind of rough too. I’m going to assume that’s because the owner is getting the rear reupholstered first, though perhaps it’s out to help get at the mechanical bits for that complicated rear window. Besides that, the car appears to be in really great shape and I wish the best to its owner.
Other visible work on the car includes new-looking rubber wrapped around a really sharp set of black steelies with chromed rims that I think look great on almost any American car of this era.
It’s always exciting to see cars like this one deep in the one of the denser parts of the borough. Brooklyn has more than its fair share of car culture. It’s out there, and sometimes you don’t need to go looking for it. It’ll come to you.