63k Original Miles: 1952 Mercury Monterey Special Custom Coupe

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For your consideration is the nicest 1952 Mercury Monterey we’ve ever featured here on Barn Finds. As is typical with many craigslist ads, there is very little information and details shared about this fine-looking hardtop coupe. The seller says that it was previously owned by a car show judge for more than 40 years, it is very factory correct, has 63,000 original miles, and is “incredibly original,” but doesn’t give us details about that claim. This gorgeous, low-mileage 1952 Mercury Monterey Special Custom Coupe (as it’s called in their sales literature) is currently in Le Mesa, California, and is for sale here on craigslist for $23,000. Another “much obliged” goes out to our pal, T.J., for sending us another terrific tip.

From a styling perspective, the “New for ’52” Mercury favors the top-of-the-line Lincoln, but I personally prefer the Mercury’s cleaner, smoother lines. I especially like the slanted rear-end treatment with those oversized but not over-the-top chromed taillight housings that stylishly blend into the upturned rear bumper. This Monterey is just stunningly beautiful from every angle as the photographs prove. The Vassar Yellow paint with the contrasting black top presents well as does everything else – the chrome, stainless, glass, trim, badging, a spotless trunk, and the optional driving light/fog light bumper guards. I especially like the red wheel rims with the full-wheel covers, period-correct whitewall tires, and those thin fender skirts. It looks super straight and very solid. The only thing I spot that isn’t original are the chrome headlight rims (the inside of the rims were chrome but the outside matched the exterior paint color). It’s no big deal to me and internet photos I found showed other owners had done the same thing to their ’52 Mercurys.

The supplied photos in the ad get an “A” in the artistic lighting and composition department, but not posting any photos of the engine and the interior (a closeup of the odometer doesn’t count), especially the Mercury’s super-cool instrument pod with the aircraft-type toggle levers, is a head shaker. The seller says, “The red leather still smells like new” but we’ll have to take his/her word for it. The same for the engine. Under that new “Jet-Scoop” hood should be a 225-cubic inch, 125-horsepower Flathead V8 with 63,000 original miles. It’s paired with a manual transmission.

The 1949 -1951 “James Dean” Mercurys have been getting the spotlight and plenty of attention for decades. And rightfully so. But the 1952-1954 – and especially the 1955 – 1956 Mercurys – are truly wonderful cars that are under-appreciated in my opinion. The model year 1952 saw a major restyling of Mercury from stem to stern. I think their stylists did a great job and made the Mercury the most handsome of Ford Motor Company’s offerings for it’s “New for ’52” lineup. This example presents well and could be one of the nicest ones left. So, will you be contacting the seller to make an offer?

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  1. Todd J. Todd J.Member

    I’ve always liked this era of Mercury styling ever since I saw the movie “The Long, Long Trailer,” with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The car they used to tow their “New Moon” trailer was a little different (it was a 1953 Monterey Convertible), but I thought the car looked a lot better than the Ford product that was offered up in those days. I can’t speak to the asking price, it seems high, but I’ve given up trying to figure out what’s reasonable in today’s market for collectible cars.

    Like 10
    • Fred W

      I have a similar memory of this year Mercury- but it was an advertising piece for Fact-O-Bake paint shop, Pensacola FL in the late 60’s. The entire RH side (maybe 6″ thick) of a beautiful red and black ’54 Merc was cut off and mounted on the building as an attention getter!

      Like 1
    • Will Fox

      Todd, if you pay attention to some of the scenes in that movie where Desi is climbing the mountains right on the edge, you’ll notice the distance views a `53 Lincoln cvt. was used because the larger OHV V8 had the torque the Mercury didn’t to make the grade. They gussied-up the taillamps to make it look more like the Merc when it wasn’t. Just a little trivia.

      Like 3
      • Thomas H Piercy

        I remember the movie wellm mostly for the 54′ Mercury convertible, but every now and then, they used a 53′. My dad had a 54′ sedan that gave me a good comparative view. The 54′ had a larger taillight treatment without the chrome surround.

        Like 1
  2. Stan

    Manual shift Mercury Monterey 😎

    Like 2
    • Mike

      Beautiful car. My parents brought me home from the hospital after my birth in 1952. Now it looks like the car is in better shape than I am. 😂

      Like 5
  3. Yblocker

    The Mercury flathead was a 255, not a 225, but I’m sure that was a typo. I’m a bit partial to the 54s, as years ago I had a 54 Monterey 2dr hdtp, red with a white top. This one’s a beauty for sure, I don’t think the price is out of line.

    Like 5
  4. TheOldRanger

    I liked the styling of this Merc….

    Like 3
    • BigDaddyBonz

      I agree with you. Not many (if any at all) better looking cars in that time period. Nice and smooth, not gaudy or over the top like some.

      Like 4
      • Edward Willis

        I was gonna point that out until I saw your post. YBlocker, had first 239 Yblock in a 54 Crestliner, swapped for a 1956-312 cu, a hot little car at the time in 1963.

        Like 2
  5. Geoff C

    Nice looking Merc. Sure would be nice to see the interior, the engine, and the trunk!

    Like 3
  6. Charles Strunk

    The second car I ever owned was a 52 Mercury like this! All Black with maroon leather interior. Beautiful Car! Bought it after an accident, put a used junkyard front on it and drove it for a while. Gentleman I worked with at the corner Atlantic Station bought it from me and took it to Alaska!

    Like 1
  7. Robert HagedornMember

    We owned a 1954 Mercury Monterey. It was a beautiful car. But the vacuum-activated four-barrel carburetor was horrible in passing gear or at highway speeds. Flooring the car over 40 miles an hour into passing gear resulted in a noisy engine but very limited acceleration, almost nothing, especially with the two-speed automatic. My dad was a Ford mechanic. He finally wired the back two barrels shut so they wouldn’t open at high rpm, turning the carburetor into a two barrel. The engine ran much better then and actually had more power and much better mpg.

    Like 0
    • Yblocker

      The problem probably wasn’t the carburetor. From 54-56, Ford used what they called the Load-O-Matic distributor, which had no mechanical advance, only vacuum, which hindered performance considerably. The only solution was to replace it with a 57 or later unit, along with a later compatible carburetor. Btw, the carburetor on your 54 was a Holley 4000, also affectionately known as the “Teapot”. These carburetors required careful maintenance, as they were sometimes prone to catching fire, if the engine happened to backfire.

      Like 1
  8. John M Stecz

    Great looking car at a good price considering mileage and living in the California climate, always liked the few that had the glass roofs like it’s cousin the Ford Sunliners.

    Like 2
  9. Bill Hall

    I remember about 60 or so years of my Dad buying a half decent one like this forr the motor in a 53 sedan which never happened and it was cut up also. We used to get rid of old family cars by cutting them up behind our service station. Can’t even think of this now.

    Like 0
  10. charlieMember

    I saw “The Long Long Trailer” as a teen and was amazed, given what I knew about cars back then, that the Merc could pull that trailer (the plot had Lucy collecting rocks from everywhere they went so it was, in the plot, much heavier than just the trailer). Being older and wiser it figures that they used a Lincoln to pull the trailer up the mountain, and I bet they took the rocks out, as well.
    You could show this to the whole family.

    Like 1
  11. Chuck Holmes

    I always loved those 52/56 mercs. Never had a merc tho. Several fords. I thought Mercs were 239 ci. Not to be confused with the 54 ohv 239

    Like 1
    • Yblocker

      The later Mercury flathead was a 255, the Ford was a 239. The first Y-Block in 54, was still a 239 for Fords, and a 256 for Mercury.

      Like 0
  12. John B. Traylor

    I love this car, they had great looks.

    Like 0

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