The 1955 Mercury redesign is considered one of the best of what was a banner year for nearly every domestic American automaker. The full-size and top-line Montclair was Mercury’s newest model, and with a height of 58.6 inches, it was marketed as the lowest sedan you could buy. The coupe shared the Ford Crown Victoria body and included the glasstop Sun Valley, of which only 1,787 were made. Body styles also included a four-door sedan, two-door hardtop, and a convertible. The Montclair was powered by a 292-cid, 198-hp, OHV V-8 and slightly more than 100,000 were sold.
For 1956, the Mercury Montclair received the obligatory four-door hardtop that most manufacturers introduced. At 56 inches, the model was even lower than the 1955s. The Sun Valley glasstop was dropped this year, and all Montclairs carried the 312-cid, 210-hp V-8.
In 1957, Mercury received its own original body style, shared neither with Ford nor Lincoln. Early cars had two headlights while later ones had four. Mercury introduced the Turnpike Cruiser this year, which nominally made the Montclair second on the pecking order. The Montclair’s V-8 engine was boosted to 383-cid and 330 hp.
The 1958 Mercury featured a new hood and fender shapes, and a big “M” in the grille. The Turnpike Cruiser became part of the Montclair line instead of a standalone but was reduced to a two- and four-door hardtop, losing the convertible. Montclair sales totaled 20,673 and Mercury’s total sales plunged to 133,271, the lowest for 10 years, as the recession took hold.
For 1959 the Montclair line lost its convertible to the new Park Lane series and was left with a four-door hardtop, four-door sedan, and two-door hardtop. Turnpike Cruisers were discontinued. Mercury pinned its hope on the compact Comet for 1960 and this would subsequently be the last year for the Montclair. The line had increased in length from 206 inches to 219 inches in five years and engine size from 292 cid to 430 cid.
For a buyer, the 1957 models experienced some teething issues when new, but most have since been sorted out. Finding body parts and trim for the later cars is not easy as so few were sold. Rust, and some windows, are a particular concern. Mid-1950s Mercury Montclairs are fairly compact and attractive, while the later cars are enormous mid-market cars. This span means that the Montclair appeals to a wide variety of tastes.