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Rare 4-Speed: 1978 Mercury Monarch 5.0

The Mercury Monarch only lasted for a single generation, with production beginning in 1975 and lasting through 1980, but its timing was good as automakers were speculating that more buyers would be seeking a luxury compact that was relatively fuel-efficient.  They were correct, as over 575,000 examples found homes during the car’s lifespan, but fast-forward 45 years and what makes this particular 1978 Mercury Monarch here on Craigslist more desirable than most is the transmission- how many of these have you seen with a factory stick shift?  I certainly haven’t spotted very many, so if you like the idea of a good conversation starter this one’s in Fall Branch, Tennessee, and it can be yours for $14,000.

Reader Pat L. sent us the tip here, and for this, we’d like to say thanks!  The seller mentions he’s driven the Mercury for 5 years but has decided the time has come to move on to a different project, but informs us that during his tenure there’s been a new clutch installed, new shocks, a brake job, plus a new set of Cooper tires.  The car was previously in Las Vegas before his acquisition and is claimed to have no rust anywhere, but the 7-year-old paint is stated to not be quite perfect, although for a driver it appears more than acceptable.

In addition to the transmission, some more good news here is the original buyer chose the optional 302 V8 engine instead of the standard 250 inline six.  But the bad news comes in its horsepower rating, which for ’78 was only 139, although still superior to the 6 which got you less than a hundred.  The seller does say the car runs down the road nice and smoothly, and the carburetor was rebuilt at some point in the not-too-distant past.

Red continues on the inside, with an interior that still looks well-preserved and upholstery that’s stated to be in near-mint condition.  But what caught my attention most inside is what’s sticking out of the 8-Track player, the debut release by Moby Grape, not exactly a household name in 2023 yet nonetheless a solid psychedelic band out of the sixties San Francisco music scene.  I’d have to ask for that to be included in the sale, along with any other similar magnetic tape cartridges the seller might have in his collection.  This one definitely seems like a pretty cool Monarch, but does what we’re seeing here merit the $14,000 price tag?


  1. Doone

    I would be a buyer at 6500. Its been repainted in an odd color.

    Like 12
  2. Nelson C

    Nice trip down memory lane. No, the lipstick red isn’t likely original unless it was special order but it is a Ford color. IIRC these are an o/d 4-speed. It’s the kind of car that would have been the only one then and surely the only one now.

    Like 8
    • Jeff DeWitt

      I had a six cylinder 78 with the four speed and yes, the top gear was a four speed. It was a really good car.

      Like 4
  3. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Interesting car, I like it because it is something different. I prefer the stock woodgrain shift knob as opposed to the Hurst knob shown in some pics. I’d like to see a Marti Report. Could be a fun cruiser.

    Like 16
    • 19sixty5 Member

      A Hurst T-handle on a car, especially on an OEM shifter gives you a hint about how the car has been driven… that being said, a pretty unique cool car!

      Like 0
  4. Frank Drackman

    Friend of mine had the Ford Grenada version,
    not bad for cruising a Saturday Night in 1983
    Today would probably suck

    Like 6
  5. Stan

    Good comments. Neat unicorn 🦄
    Equipped with 4sp, 302 torque, probably neighborhood of 2.75 ring&pinion ⚙️ be a fun driver w some sway bars and tires.

    Like 8
  6. Bill Sapp

    I had a 1980 Monarch Ghia in Lipstick Red. As I learned, it was not one of the listed colors, but since it was loaded with power windows, tilt, cruise, cornering lights, luggage rack, the wheels as on this example, plus the electronic Quadraphonic 8 track, I figured it was a soecial order, possibly an executive car.

    Bill Sapp
    Hamlet, NC

    Like 9
    • Bill McCanless

      This combination of engine and transmission is not so rare! I worked for a Ford Dealership in the late 70’s early 80’s and the vast majority of the Granadas I predeivered were V-8 with the 4sp overdrive. They came in 2 – door and 4 – door models. Yes , there was the 250 inline 6 as well. We even had 2 that were powered by the 2300 inline 4 with a 3 speed on the column!

      Like 11
      • Howard A Member

        Hi Bill, I read, 1977 Maverick/Comet was probably the last column shifted manual from Ford, although some say the all new ’78 Fairmont had a 3 speed column, but none found. I believe, if someone wanted a manual transmission, the only way was a floor shift, as the column shifted steering columns were obsolete.

        Like 5
      • Nelson C

        Actually replying to Howard’s comment. I hadn’t given much thought to the end of column shift cars. GM offered it on the X-car thru the end of rwd. AMC and Chrysler compacts? I guess trucks would have been the end in the 80s. The last one I saw was an 87 C10 step side set up for test evaluation. Air, pl, pw and a 3-speed. Wonder who ended up with that one?

        Like 3
      • Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

        Also replying to Howard A and Nelson C. I just (re)-read a thoroughly researched article written by Murilee Martin and published in Autoweek in Nov. 2020, which cites the last three-on-the-tree for each of the American manufacturers. For Ford, the article agrees with what Howard notes, including the info that it is highly unlikely there was any attempt to tool this up for the new Fox Body Fairmont.

        Like 3
  7. peter

    I like it.

    It would be totally fine leaving it exactly as it is.

    Modifications leaving it looking stock would be fine too.

    Definitely more hp could be had out of that 302, or an engine swap.

    Handling improvements would perhaps be easier if it were fox-based.

    But the Granada/Monarch being based on the Maverick, which was based on the Falcon, I’m sure it’s do-able.

    Like 8
    • Dave Hanson

      Why in the world would you engine swap a non-collectible ugly car like this?

      Like 3
    • Robert Atkinson, Jr.

      The Falcon begat the Mustang, which begat the Maverick/Comet which begat the Granada/Monarch/Versailles. And the Lord’s anger against the Big Three was kindled, and they were forced to wander in the regulatory desert of NHTSA and the EPA for twenty (20) years, until all those who had done evil in the sight of the Lord had been consumed. But Lee Iacocca’s spirit was not dimmed, nor his natural force abated. Lo and behold, he led his people to the promised land of regulator-approved muscle cars, the Challenger, the Charger, the Camaro and the Mustang! And God saw that it was good. LOL!

      Like 5
      • Bill McCanless

        love it!!! i bow to you sir!!!

        Like 0
  8. Gerry

    Love the car, but hate the landau roof.

    Like 6
  9. Robert Atkinson, Jr.

    I hope it handles better than the Maverick/Comet it’s descended from, because while the Mavericks/Comets were awful cars, at least they looked nice. These late 70’s baroque mini-barges, with the three-block proportions, ersatz Mercedes grille, opera windows, half vinyl roof and a face only a Mother could love, embodied every styling cliche that screamed AMERICAN CAR in the “Malaise Era”, and they were some of the ugliest boxes ever to come out of Detroit! Yes, the 302 can be breathed on to increase its output, but if it was sprung like the luxo-barges of the period, it wallowed like a garbage scow in a three-foot swell! I’ll pass!

    Like 5
    • Claudio

      Great comment that covers my feelings on these Fugly cars

      Like 1
  10. Zen

    Interesting because it’s unusual and in very nice shape, but not desirable. I don’t see him getting that price. I hope he finds a good home for it, or keeps it and preserves it, enjoying it for what it is.

    Like 6
  11. Ten50boy

    Nice, cool car. Different. If that paint was not original, I wouldn’t have done it. Further, I’d find out what the original color was and repaint it that way eventually. Heat up that little small block and tighten up the suspension. Some headers, flowmaters and make a cool cars and coffee ride. Unfortunately, I think it’s overpriced for what it is. Maybe in 10 more years! Lol. Try $8000 neg. and I bet the seller will have people knocking on the door…..

    Like 7
  12. Bob Kratchet

    It’s in great shape, but $14k, that’s bananas. Being old doesn’t make it desirable, that was at the beginning of a dark era for cars.

    Like 8
  13. jwzg


    This is what you can do to one of these.

    Like 2
    • Robert Atkinson, Jr.

      You can do anything you want to within the limits of time, money and the laws of physics! The better question is: Why would you want to? While they are relatively light, these have all the aerodynamics of a brick! Why not something a little slipperier, like a Pinto or a Maverick? The world wonders.

      Like 2
      • Big C

        The same reason that MOPAR fan sinks money into Aspen/Volare Roadrunners and R/T’s. And GM fan sinks money into 80’s Malibu’s. Cuz they WANT to.

        Like 1
    • Big_Fun Member

      Ah, yes… forgot about this PN build from a few months ago. Thanks for posting. This was a fun build, and fun to watch. And they kept the hupcaps and the 8 track…

      Like 1
  14. Wayne

    I would have thought this was fairly rare as well if I didn’t see this cars doppelganger, in a shade of burgundy, just yesterday driving through Prince Edward County in Ontario!

    Like 1
  15. Jimbosidecar

    My father had the Granada version of this car, 302 and 4 speed manual. Dark green I think. I was thinking, he bought a hot rod. Then I drove it. Pretty slow for a V8, and never went fast enough to judge how it handled. But it wasn’t a terrible car.

    Like 1
    • Bob Kratchet

      Especially when you realize a stock Honda Civic has more power than this. I had one too, it was a fun car for the time, but I’d never go seeking one to buy today.

      Like 1
  16. Davey Boy

    I drove the Lincoln’s version of this in the Versailles. Like sitting on a cloud. Don’t know what the power output was but it had no problem passing on the freeway going to Cali. Would like to have this one but since it’s not worth a lot, customizing would definitely be in it’s future. Early 90’s Mustang 5.0 with the 5 spd from the same car. Add power to the motor. Try and find the unobtanium Versailles rear end. Find some old school aluminum slotted mags. 8 in. on front and 10 in. on back. Maroon paint and drive it till the wheels fall off. Maybe if it sits long enough I could get it for a realistic price. A guy can dream.

    Like 1
    • Dan Simpson

      A realistic price for it is probably $2-3k. No way it would make sense to do all that on such an undesirable car.

      Like 1
  17. mrgreenjeans

    I bought and resold a black one like this 30 years ago; it was the only one I ever saw with a stick. The one that was REALLY rare were the 351 Windsors. I own one in gold with automatic in a GHIA model. A quick little sleeper…..

    Like 0
    • Robert Atkinson, Jr.

      But still ugly as hell, LOL!

      Like 1
      • mrgreenjeans

        As with all styling nuances found in the Automobile realm, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I find the styling of this generation of Ford cars about appealing as most of which was available from the mid ’70s to around the mid 2,000s. At least in American design. Exceptions may be made in viewing European cars as there were some extremely fashionable and appealing sports, luxury, and family style contrivances built. Even some superb pickups from Australia and America are among my favorites and have ardent followers across the globe. The ‘malaise era’ will never be thought of as a great time in auto styling, but thankfully we don’t contend with that which flows from communist countries

        Like 2

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