Continental Kit! 1958 Mercury Monterey

The 1958 model year was not a good one for the automobile industry. The U.S. was amid an economic recession that would put a big dent in car sales. Mercury suffered more than most, seeing a decline of 53%, due in part to the new Edsel stealing some of their thunder. One of the autos built that year was this 1958 Mercury Monterey 2-door hardtop with a continental kit. Said to be an original car with less than 20,000 miles, but it looks like it was built yesterday. Located in Torrance, California, this cream puff is being offered by a dealer here on eBay where bidding has reached $28,125. But that’s not enough to trip the reserve which is somewhere below the $37,500 Buy It Now price. Thanks, Larry D, for this trip down Memory Lane.

After the Medalist model was introduced in mid-1957, the Monterey would be a middle-tier offering. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t well-appointed given the incredible example offered here for sale. Besides gaining dual headlights, the massive front bumper was divided into two sections and may have looked a little bulky for some tastes. The sculptured rear fenders from the all-new 1957s remained, but the “V” shaped taillights gained “projectile” lights. Monterey’s could come with one of two engines, a 383 or 430 cubic inch V8, of which the latter was the selection in the seller’s car. It has an automatic transmission as did 99% of all Mercurys sold in 1958.

The dismal sales year saw overall Mercury production drop to 133,271 cars, with nearly half being Monterey’s at 62,312 copies. The 2-door ‘Phaeton’ hardtop like this one accounted for 13,693 vehicles. When was the last time you saw one of these magnificent cruisers? No history is offered on this time capsule which is alleged to have seen just 19,578 miles. How is that possible? Did the original owner install the plastic over the seat covers and then park this car in a climate-controlled garage for 51 out of 52 weeks?

We’re told the Flamingo Red and white paint is original and there is nary a scratch or hint of rust to be seen, at least in the large variety of photos provided. We looked online and didn’t find where the continental kit was a factory option, so perhaps they were dealer installed. This automobile is stunning, but there is one thing I can do without, the rear wheel skirts which look like afterthoughts rather than part of the styling design. They look distracting to me.

Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Take that rear bumper and turn it upside down, and you have a ’64 Thunderbird! Elwood Engel?

    Like 8
    • DON

      Front bumper too, if you squint !

    • Sam61

      Good one, turn a 64 T Bird rear bumper upside down and you have a 64 T Bird rear bumper.

      Like 4
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    That’s a whole lot of ugly for just one car. Not as bad as the Oldsmobile but close.

    Like 7
    • Terrry

      You want ugly for that year? Check out the Buick Century Limited. They cancelled Christmas due to a tinsel shortage because of that car.

      Like 12
      • bobhess bobhess Member

        There is a long list of the ’58 over chromed cars that I didn’t want to try to remember…. Even as a little kid I knew what ugly was.

        Like 5
    • Solosolo UK Solosolo Member

      I can’t get over just how different it is to the 1956 Mercury Monterey that I owned back in 1957. To me that was a beautiful car, this one, so over the top it’s unbelievable and as for the Continental kit, Yuck!

      Like 2
  3. angliagt angliagt Member

    It could be even tackier – it could be a Turnpike Cruiser.
    Why do they many times have backgrounds like this?Does
    it make the cars for sale more desirable?

    Like 2
    • jimbunte jimbunte Member

      They want everyone to see how many vehicles they have, presumably.

      Like 3
    • Terrry

      Check out the Kaiser at the far end of the top row!

      Like 2
  4. jimbunte jimbunte Member

    Sure can see the Edsel family resemblance in this one.

    Like 3
  5. Jay Santos

    Those cruiser skirts were aftermarket options provided by Foxcraft (their Super Cruiser Line) and quite popular on the Mercs.

    BTW, you do not EVER want to have to replace that rear window.

    Like 4
  6. Jay Santos

    I have to admit the crease in the parcel shelf that continues through the rear window and out onto the rear decklid is pretty inspired auto design, despite the excesses of other 1958 marques.

    Like 1
    • jetfire88

      That styling theme was also on the ’57 Mercs, and became an integral part of the ’58-’60 Thunderbirds. It made the ‘Bird look real distinctive because it defined the two rear pods for the taillights and continued the theme through to the dash.

  7. Terrry

    No, that car needs to lose the kit and the shirts (especially those ill-fitting skirts). Then it would be quite attractive.

    Like 5
    • Karl

      AMEN!!! Say it loud and proud. Like them the way they were designed!
      Sure I have hurt some feelings.

      Like 1
  8. Tom Member

    Some folks just don’t appreciate neat vintage stuff!! Regardless of your taste!! Appreciate it for what is!!!! Certainly not my favorite but it’s an incredible old relic!!

    Like 12
    • Howard A Member

      Thanks Tom. “The Big M”, it was quite a car. While the elephant in the room is always the continental kit, it was a very fashionable option in the 50s. It made the car seem even bigger than it was,,bigger then, being better. It can be easily removed,( I wonder if the original bumper is still under there?) but I like it. There was actually some safety involved too. A rear end collision wasn’t so severe, kind of like those county trucks with the big cushion. For anyone to point out its gaudiness, is a moot point today. People had originality when buying cars in the late 50s, car makers threw whatever they had, and someone in 1958, ordered a beautiful car here. Whatever happened to that?

      Like 11
      • karl

        I’m not sure about your comment on the Continental kit ; although I wasn’t born yet ( but very soon) , I never saw one on any car growing up, and dont recall ever seeing one in any 50s photo or film from that time, nor in any of the old time junkyards I’ve traipsed through in the last 40+ years. I get the feeling today that people think all cars were like this and everyone looked like Fonzie, due to the nostalgia collectables you see everywhere. Much like the 1960s, where all you ever see today are Hippies in VW buses , but look at films from the times… for the most part most of the young looked more like Wally Cleaver

        Like 4
      • Jim Z Member

        I sorta doubt there’s a bumper hiding behind the continental shelf. At least with my ’59 Ambassador there was not. Without the continental shelf, the bumper would attach perfectly to the body.

  9. Larry D

    It’s a beautiful car except for that unsightly growth on its rear end.

    Like 7
  10. Larry D

    Well, it’s the nicest ‘58 Merc I’ve seen in a while……….a LONG while.🏁

    Like 4
  11. DN

    This particular dealer is grossly overpriced. I’m surprised anything in that inventory sells domestically

    • Larry D

      If you think they’re bad, check out RK Motors in Charlotte or Vanguard Motor Sales in Plymouth, MI. C R A Z Y ! ! !

      Like 1
  12. Johnmloghry johnmloghry

    Once upon a time I had a mother in law that actually liked me. She was in need of a low cost used car so she enlisted my help to find one. we searched the want ads in the newspaper (people actually did that) for such a car. We found a car listed in a yard sale that said; “ran when parked” so we went to see what they had for sale. Parked in the driveway was this 57 Mercury Monterey 2 door hardtop. It was in great condition but wouldn’t start so we offered $50.00 for it and they gladly accepted. We then went to the local parts store and bought a set of spark plugs, cap, rotor and wires. after installing these items the car fired right up. It had a 312 engine with push button automatic transmission. It was two tone light brown with white top. She drove that car several years before the transmission finally gave up. By the way I have always liked the looks of 57`58 Mercury cars. Hers did not have a Continental kit or skirts.

    God Bless America

    Like 2
  13. Tman

    I often wondered how anyone could have full use of the trunk. You’d need an engine hoist to load and unload heavy suitcases.

    Like 1
  14. Harold Griffin Sr

    Love the Cruiser Skirts and Continental Kit, all we need now is Lake Pipes.

    Like 1
  15. Billy Blazer

    My father bought a used low mileage ‘58 Monterey coupe for me to take to college. It was maroon with black vinyl interior and had the police intercept engine. I always wondered if the little old lady he bought it from lived in Pasadena prior to her T-bird fame.

    Like 1
    • Larry Ashcraft

      The Little Old lady from Pasadena drove a shiny red Super Stock Dodge.

  16. Jack Quantrill

    In 1958, a virus, or fungus took over the minds of the designers! The big three, in ‘55, ‘56 and ‘57, did it right. After this, excess chrome, bulges, continental kits, fender skirts, and sheer ugliness was the rule. Long live, the TRI-FIVES!

  17. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    @Howard
    Hey boo! There is no “original bumper” under the Continental kit. They remove the bumper, put the Continental kit on and place the original bumper to the Continental kit.
    The bumper on this car looks a little twisted, or it could be just the angle of the photo.

    @Tman

    The tire on the Continental kit pulls forward to you giving better access to the trunk. Also, many cars of this Era had the fuel filler behind the flip down license plate. You had to pull the tire forward to you to put gas in the car.

    Now, so everyone can get mad at me, I like Continental kids on some cars… not all.
    I do prefer regular skirts from the factory instead of these aftermarket surfboards.

    Like 4
    • Solosolo UK Solosolo Member

      I’m with you Angel. I love fender skirts, just not the ones on this Mercury.

      Like 3
    • Howard A Member

      Thanks, dear, a little research shows, you are right, that is not a T-bird bumper, although looks similar. Folks that grew up around KIAs, simply don’t know what the style was then. I suppose they might question, dual tilted antennas, fake spots, dingle balls and fuzzy dice, as well.
      To answer karls question, no, you won’t find continental kits in a junkyar,,oops, I mean,,,,auto recycling facility, it wasn’t something Joe Lunchpail put on their rusty BelAir. But you can bet, every custom car that came out of California, had a continental kit. It did give a bit more trunk space, with the spare outside, but limited access. As ACD mentioned, the spare tilted back, also, in many cases, to gain access to the gas filler.
      I can take or leave the kit, but to me, the fender skirts ALWAYS look cool.

      Like 2
      • Solosolo UK Solosolo Member

        This is what I had to do to my ’67 Mustang when four adults had to get 1000 miles from Durban to Cape Town. I had a fitting made to support the spare wheel with a hole in the middle in order to get the gas nozzle into the tank neck. The hubcap covered the whole fitting and it worked so well that I never removed it and eventually sold the car like this. Sorry the picture isn’t the best.

        Like 1
  18. Emel

    I’m pretty sure you’d survive hitting a telephone pole in this beast.
    Which is something to be said for.
    It’s also sort of Edsel like….if that isn’t too insulting. lol

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