What Is It?

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Last week’s photo showed the front of a 1964 Mercury. The car was a Park Lane convertible, but we didn’t ask for the model because the grille was the same on all of them.

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What is it?  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
What is it?

The 1964 Mercury was given a mild restyling from the previous year. Whereas the 1963 had a concave grille and three round taillights, the 1964 had a pointed chrome grille and three flattened lights in back. In 1965, the cars went slab-sided, just like the big Fords.

Chosen randomly from the correct entries was the name of David G. Keller, of North Augusta, who wrote:

“The car is a 1964 Mercury Monterey, Mont­clair or Park Lane. I believe all three models had similar grilles and headlight treatments. They came in two- and four-door versions, some with the reverse-sloped back window for ‘Flow-Through Ventilation.’ The rear window was power-operated and could be left opened in the rain.

“I owned a used two-door Monterey Marauder ‘fastback’ with four-speed transmission on the floor and the 390 V-8 with four-barrel carburetor. It was white with a red interior. The clutch was mechanically linked (no hydraulic assistance) but I did have power brakes. I drove it a couple of years while attending Augusta College.

“The 1964 Marauder model was used in stock car racing for a couple of years in NASCAR and at least one year on the USAC Stock Car circuit. Bud Moore, of Spartanburg, S.C., set up 1964 Mercs for such drivers as Joe Weatherly, Darel Dieringer, Billy Wade and Earl Balmer, with moderate success. ‘Little Joe’ was killed in the Riverside, Calif., race in his No. 8 in 1964. Billy Wade also died in racing. No. 8 is on display at the Darlington Raceway. Bill Stroppe in California set up the ’64 for such USAC drivers as Parnelli Jones and Rodger Ward.

“Driving to Isle of Palms in August 1994, I saw a white ’64 Mercury fastback from a distance in a farmer’s field. The car had a ‘for sale’ sign on it. I meant to inquire about the car on the trip back, but didn’t. I have regretted that since.”

We thank Keller for his descriptions. Here are the other readers who guessed; unless otherwise noted, they correctly identified the 1964 Mercury. We had to trim responses for this page, but all comments run in full on our Web site. Other readers identifying the car were:

AIKEN: Raymond Richards

AUGUSTA: Lowell Fritsche: “The car is a 1963 Mercury Monterey. I first thought ‘Ford’ but had trouble with that pointed fender. I started thinking Thunderbird, then I thought that might be Mercury. It was the one that had the back window that slid down behind the back seat. It was a very classy auto.”

Walker Mobley Jr.: “All of the models of that year had the same front-end design except the Comet. The three models were the Monterey, Montclair and Park Lane, with the station wagon as Colony Park.

“There was a special edition in the car lines called the Marauder. This car came with a 390-cubic-inch V-8 as standard in the Monterey and Montclair lines, but with the Park Lane the 427 V-8 was available as an option. There was also a fully synchronized four-speed transmission option offered along with the standard Merc-O-Matic transmission for the Marauder, but I’m not sure if the four-speed was available in other Mercury models.

“These were very attractive cars in their day, and it’s a shame the Mercury fell by the wayside as so many of the other auto makes we remember and enjoyed have done.”

Gary Engen: “It’s a 1964 Mercury, probably a Marauder. The 1964 Marauder was part of Mercury’s 25th anniversary. The Marauder name would find its way onto the Monterey, Montclair and top-of-the-line Park Lane family of models in 1964 and would disappear after the 1965 model year. All engine choices were V-8s that varied from the 390 V-8, which delivered 300 horsepower, to the hot 410-horsepower version of the Ford 427 big-block. That big engine combination brought Mercury back to serious stock car racing where big-name drivers such as Parnelli Jones, driving a Marauder, captured eight major stock car wins in 1964.”

Victor R. Loftiss: “This week’s ‘What Is It?’ car is the 1964 Mercury Park Lane. A number of these cars had the unusual option of having a power rear window that could be lowered; these windows slanted in at the bottom rather than the usual configuration of the bottom being further out towards the trunk than the top. I remember a buddy’s mom would sometimes pick us up from baseball practice when I was a kid, and I’d sit in the back seat and think about that window.”

John Hayes: “Today’s car appears to be a 1964 Mercury Montclair.”

Sammy Whitfield guessed it and said he once owned a 1965 Mercury Comet with the ‘three on the tree’: “It ran like a sewing machine until I wrecked it on Walden Drive. I liked to fly. It was a white two-door hardtop.”

Willie Thomas thought it might be a 1963 Lincoln Continental or maybe a Mercury.

CANTON, GA.: David Anderson: “I have always loved the roll-down back window concept of the Mercurys. Mercury calls it the Breezeway design. However, knowing how the aerodynamics around the back end of the car tend to swirl the air back towards the car, I also often wondered if this design caused debris or exhaust fumes to be pulled into the passenger compartment.

“Also, with no seat-belt – let alone child safety seat – requirements at the time, I wonder how many parents glanced in the rearview mirror to see Junior or Sally trying to escape out that open back window?

“Also available was a more traditional hardtop style that Mercury calls the Marauder hardtop styling. Either roof line was available across all full-size product lines, and the convertibles mimicked this profile with the top in the raised position. The 1964 product catalog touts that the convertible top now included a glass back window, not plastic!

“Mr. Culpepper in the south Augusta neighborhood in which I grew up in had a light-blue full-size Mercury, though I am positive it was a later model than 1964. It had just as handsome and appealing lines as the ’64, and I always looked at it longingly every time we went past his house. I might have been biased towards it because of the color which was close to, if not the same shade of blue, as the ’59 Ford Galaxie my parents had. Not surprisingly, years later with my lovely bride, we bought a brand-new Marina Blue 1974 VW Beetle. It also harkened back to the color of that Galaxie.

“For 1964, the full-size Mercurys came equipped with a standard four-barrel 390 V-8, and in Marauder trim you could go up to a dual four-barrel 427 V-8 with a console-mounted four-speed manual transmission. Now, that would be the one to have sitting in the garage today!”

EDGEFIELD, S.C.: Justin Shobert: “I believe this week’s car is a 1964 Mercury Monterey.”

EVANS: Larry Heath: “The photo shows the full-size model, which was available in a variety of sedan, hardtop, and convertible versions. Mercury was essentially another version of the Ford lineup of cars. Engines ranged from the six-cylinder to a 427-cubic-inch V-8. Mercury had a performance image during the ’60s and early ’70s.

“There was significant involvement in both drag-racing and NASCAR events. A Mercury from this era is fairly rare at car shows because of low production numbers.”

Bill Harding: “1964. Graduation from high school. The Beatles. My first car: a 1955 Mercury that seemingly burned more oil than gasoline. My first job: garbage collector, which made my parents so proud of their young boy.

“But I digress. Baby boomer that I was, fast, powerful cars were what I loved, and for 1964, every American automaker offered some real performance machines. The Mercury Marauder offered engines of up to 427 cubic inches and 425 horsepower. Don’t even ask about its fuel economy. Back then, a gallon cost 25 cents in Chicago (my hometown) so no one was all that concerned about gas mileage, when even 100-octane cost 35 cents. Folks who wanted a performance car in 1964 had many style choices. Compacts included Ford’s Falcon Sprint and Mercury’s Comet Cyclone. Midsizes included Pontiac’s Tempest GTO. Full-sizes included the Chevy 409, Dodge/Plymouth 426, Pontiac 421, and Ford/Mercury 427. Mercury competed against Pontiac in the upper-midprice class. Pontiac was perceived as a unique entity, while Mercury was perceived as a glorified Ford, largely because Pontiac made its own engines and Mercury used Ford engines. Pontiac won the sales war with Mercury, but both were fast cars.”

Paul Perdue: “This week’s vehicle is a 1964 Mercury, which had an unusual back window that would roll down.”

Jerry Paul: “My guess is a 1964 Mercury Monterey.”

Glenn Frostholm: “This week’s oldie is a 1960 Mercury, basically an upscale Ford with lots more chrome.”

HEPHZIBAH: Leo Bennett: “1964 Mercury Montclair.”

Ralph Whitton: “This week’s feature is a 1964 Mercury (could be a Monte­rey or Park Lane). My sister’s boyfriend/husband/divorcee had a ’57 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, and it had an electric rear window that went down and up with the flick of the switch, as did the ’64’s.”

KEYSVILLE, GA.: Glenn Widner: “It looks like a 1960 Mercury.”

LOUISVILLE, GA.: Bob Holbert: “The car is a 1964 Mercury (noted for the slight separation of the headlights). It is possibly a Maurader, which was cousin to the Ford Galaxie 500XL. Both were large luxury cars packing base 300-horsepower engines. The Marauder also came with a 427-cubic-inch, 400-horsepower-plus engine. Whichever engine you chose you couldn’t pass too many gas stations because they were noted for drinking gasoline in prodigious quantities. That same year I had a 1964 Pontiac GTO, so I too was well-acquainted with gas stops!

MCBEAN: Robert Lamb: 1964 Mercury Park Lane.

MARTINEZ: Christopher C March Sr.: “This 1964 is one of the first-generation (1963-65) Marauders. These cars came with an automatic transmission with a 390, 406 or 427 V-8.”

Lloyd B. Schnuck: “The Mercury marque was established by Edsel Ford in 1938 as an entry-level luxury model to compete with GM. Initially an entire new car sharing no parts with Ford or Lincoln. Merging with the Lincoln line in 1945, Mercury was also considered the performance line at Ford with larger V-8s than the Fords and ultimately the OHV V-8 in 1954. Sadly, the marque was discontinued in 2010 with the last model – a Grand Marquis – manufactured Jan. 4, 2011.

Kurt Breitinger: “My guess is a 1964 Mercury – probably a Montclair. I know why you only asked for year and make. This front end is common to a few models.”

Jeff Keevil: “Today’s car is a 1964 Mercury Monterey. Handsome as a two door Marauder but the seemingly backwards breezeway rear window on the four door version was, well, unusual.”

Jim Muraski: “This week’s vehicle is a 1964 Mercury Montclair.”

Also, Travis Starr

MILLEDGEVILLE, GA.: Jesse Barnes said the 1964 was “a bad set of wheels back in that day.”

NORTH AUGUSTA: Ernie McFerrin: “I believe this week’s car is a Mercury Marauder, not sure of the year but I will speculate is a 1964. It was an awesome ride, especially with the 390 engine package.”

Robert Blake: “The car this week is a 1964 Mercury Park Lane full-size sedan. The 1964 Mercury Breezeway with the rear window that retracted into the trunk marked the 25th anniversary of the Mercury brand. There were eight Breezeway models in the Mercury lineup in 1964. The popularity of the Marauder model resulted in a decline in sales for the Breezeway models, but they still accounted for nearly half of the sales.”

PERRY, FLA.: Larry Anderson: “Could be a Monterey or a Montclair; they both came with a 390/250-horsepower engine; could get a 390/300-horsepower optional. The Montclair Marauder was available with a 390/330-horsepower Interceptor engine or with the big-block 427/425-horsepower engine.”

THOMSON: Willie Cummings guessed it and said his uncle had been into big Ford products in the early 1960s.

WARRENVILLE: James Covar

NO CITY LISTED: Louise Sharp said she believed it to be a 1969 Olds 442.

THIS WEEK’S QUIZ

This dark-green vehicle is a replica of a car you have probably seen before. Why is the rear seat of this vehicle worth knowing about? For extra credit, can you tell us the make of this automobile? If you can do that, you probably know the city this photo was shot in, too.

Send your guesses to glynn.moore@augusta
chronicle.com or leave a message at (706) 823-3419. Please tell us your name, city and telephone number; spell your name if you call.

You have until midnight Tuesday to respond. Responses will appear in next Friday’s paper.

– Glynn Moore, staff writer


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