I love this car because it’s so unapologetic. It just goes “Ta-da! I’m here, move up there, make space!” It comes from a time when people genuinely didn’t know about climate change and didn’t have to worry squeezing into a tight parking slot.
Back then it wasn’t an excessive purchase. It’s 18.5ft long – but then so were all the other American station wagons from the 1950s on (and, guess, what, the 2017 Lincoln Navigator L still is). Power under that football field of a hood came from a 429cu in V8, and Gary quotes the mpg as ‘Don’t ask’. In 1970, you didn’t need to. Gas was around 36c a gallon.
But perhaps the best thing about this piece of mechanical excess is that it’s not an executive chariot, it’s a car for an aspiring middle class family to enjoy and be proud of.
Mercury is a bit posher than Ford, not demanding a round of applause like Cadillac or Lincoln. It’s a ‘nice’ marque for people who’ve done quite well – like a pre-Honda Rover. The Colony Park name was used for top-of-the–line wagons from 1957 to 1991.
We Brits love an estate or a shooting brake, but in the States these days, people want SUVs. Station wagons were what mom, or even gran used to drive, and sure enough, the first owner of this Mercury was Carolyn M Gaunt of Fresno, CA.
I imagine her choosing it and driving off, thrilled her Mercury, just as I was thrilled with my more humble Mercury Marquis sedan. Her neighbours would have admired its revolving lights, diamond-pattern vinyl upholstery and Rich Yacht Decking vinyl wrap ‘woody’ trim. They may have said something like “Gee, that’s really neat!”
She really must have loved it, too, because this car is immaculate. No football cleats have scored the carpet; no dogs have scuffed the load area. When I spotted it at the NEC, I couldn’t stop walking round it looking at the flawless paintwork, and the perfect condition of that ‘wood’.
Sadly, it wouldn’t have held its value after the fuel crisis hit in 1973, so the best thing to do would have been to hold on to it. Now it’s a priceless snapshot of a more optimistic time.
Gary loves it and is giving people the opportunity to admire it again. They probably won’t say “how neat!”. They’re more likely to say “Wow!” or “WTF” but in a nice way.
See Gary's My Wagon website here.
The wagon was also featured in Classic American magazine March 2015