Garage Find: 1956 Mercury Monterey Coupe

UPDATE – The seller sent over additional photos of this Monterey, including ones of the engine and interior. Be sure to take a look at them in the photo gallery below and don’t forget to make them an offer!

FROM 5/24/2021 – If you ever wanted to own, cruise, and show a colorful, cool car from the 1950s, this could be your ticket. Let’s check all the boxes: Attractive styling. A great 50s two-tone color (Persimmon and Classic White). A color-matching continental kit. Lots of gleaming chrome. Lake pipes. And even color-coordinated fuzzy dice hanging down from the rearview mirror. This fab ’56 is located in Stony Point, New York for an asking price of $25,000 or best offer. You can contact the seller here on Barn Finds Classifieds for more details.

Coming off a record sales year in 1955 (329,808 units sold), the 1956 Mercury would see minor styling changes and upgrades. The biggest being the lightning bolt pattern on the sides that make it look like it’s in motion (and cleverly delineates the two-toned paint schemes) and a big “M” that is on the hood. And speaking of Big M’s, that was the theme of Mercury’s blitzkrieg advertising campaign for ’56. Even Ed Sullivan was encouraging car buyers to “Make the Big Move to the Big M” because Mercury for 1956 offered “more features, more performance, more beauty, and more safety.” Engines for the ’56 Monterey were enlarged to 312 CI and produced 235 HP and it was obvious car buyers liked year two of this unique styling (which fell somewhere between a Ford and a Lincoln). For 1956, sales dipped slightly to 327,943 but Mercury still kept its position of #7 in overall sales.

The seller’s ad description details, history of the car, and the number of quality photos are on the skimpy side, but it appears to be in very good, restored condition. It just oozes 50s cool. The seller states “The car came from Nevada and was restored out there. We have several trophies of first place at local car shows including Bear Mountain New York. One of the largest shows around. The car was always garage kept with a cover that is included.”  It’s also stated that the Merc has a “390 Ford motor with Automatic.” There’s no mention of its mileage and there are no photos of what appears to be a black and white interior or the options that await within. Power seats, brakes, steering, and windows along with a padded dash were available and if it has factory AC, it’ll really be rare; only 1% of ’56 Mercs left the factory with air conditioning.

I’ve always liked the cool styling and mojo of ‘55-’56 Mercury’s, but they appear to be kind of a Rodney Dangerfield of the Ford Motor Company lineup for 1956. Seems like Fords, Thunderbirds, Lincolns, and Mark II’s of that year get more attention and are more visible at car shows and auctions. If you’ve ever wanted to stand out from the crowd, this reasonably-priced Mercury is available and ready to rack up some more hardware for the next owner. Could it be you?


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  1. flmikey

    What a beautiful car, especially after the monster of a car from the last story…I never understood why they are called lake pipes…anyone know?

    Like 8
    • mike urquhart

      Back in the golden age of hot rodding, builders started routing exhaust pipes around the sides of their vehicles. In some cases, it was to make extreme lowered suspensions possible, but it was also evocative of space-age rocket engines. It was a perfect mod for land speed record racing on dry lake beds, so some folks called them “lake pipes”.

      Like 11
    • Robert G Cleveland

      Guys would install them into their exhaust systems on their street cars, and then uncap them when they raced at one of the dry lakes in So California.

      Like 4
  2. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Well-done, thorough write-up Ron. I’m not really into 50’s cars, but if I was, this looks to be a fine example. The lake pipes and Continental kit are kind of over-the-top, but they fit the theme of the car just fine, considering its eye-popping two-tone paint. I would trade the pictures of show trophies for a few interior and engine pics.

    Like 6
  3. Vance

    The pipes are ok, ( I don’t care for them), but the silly continental kit never improves the look on anything. They make the car too cluttered, it has enough chrome already. Very nice Merc, but the price is a bit high I think

    Like 18

      Continental kits also led to “squirrelly” handling, like in the ’56 TBird … that much weight hanging out over the rear end affects both oversteer and understeer …

  4. Joe Haska

    They were called Lakes pipes ,because if they were installed right , they could be un-capped and the exhaust wouldn’t go through the mufflers , this was done so when you raced the car, you would gain horsepower from straight exhaust. When you went back to the streets, you capped them back and the car was legal. This first started at the dry lakes in Southern Ca. thus the term lakes pipes ,in the beginning this was done on Hot Rods. Then some custom cars thought they looked cool and started modifying them , making them longer and continue down the sides of the car. At first allot of them were functional , but soon it was just much easier to hang them on the side for looks, it didn’t matter if they worked.
    Its interesting now because people are putting hidden electric cut outs on, that actually function and they operate off the switch on the dash. In the old days you had to get out and physically uncap them. So you would leave the bolts finger tight, so you could jump out and open them up without tools. I know I am old ,but I would like to have the modern ones on my current Hot Rods, Maybe that could be a summer project

    Like 11
  5. Rustytech Member

    The name “lake pipes” is from early hot rods that used them to race on dry lake beds in California. They were used so the chassis could be lowered. This is a good looking car. While I would not put a continental kit on any car newer than 1957, they were so much a part of the early to mid 50’s persona I wouldn’t think of removing them either.

    Like 11
  6. Will Fox

    Let me get this straight; this is a “Monterey” but dressed out as if it were a “Montclair”?! If so, it’s a shame to have doctored this car. Sounds like very little remains of the original car–someone even dropped in a 390? It’s too over done; I’d lose the cliche continental kit and laker pipes. As long as a buyer doesn’t mind this car being something it’s not—hey, go for it!

    Like 8
  7. Martin

    Hot rod magazine used to have ads for a cable operated cut out so you could just yank the cord and have open headers.

    Like 3
    • Barney

      I had a set of those. You used choke cables to open and close them

      Like 2
  8. Larry Weidman

    When I was in high school, I drove my mom’s 1953 Chevy 210 4-door sedan. In a weak effort to make it a bit less boring, I put on a set of flippers, and had a shop weld a cutout with a screw-off cap into the exhaust pipe ahead of the muffler (unknown to my parents, of course). There came a day when Mom was driving a couple of friends to their weekly bridge club, and the cap vibrated off the pipe. Near heart attacks ensued. I don’t recall my punishment, but the incident entered into family lore.

    Like 4
  9. Robert Pellow

    I like everything about it. Just captures the era of excess that was the fifties so well.

    Like 6
  10. robert lewis

    if i bought that car the 1st thing to go is that goofy looking back porch

    Like 12
    • bone

      I agree . I seems people think Continental kits were all the rage in the 50s , but watch movies or look at pictures from that time period and you never see them .

      Like 7
  11. bone

    I agree . I seems people think Continental kits were all the rage in the 50s , but watch movies or look at pictures from that time period and you never see them .

    Like 9
    • Barney

      But look a collections of old custom cars of from the fifties and you will notice a lot of them.

      Like 3
  12. Ken Vrana

    I love it!

    Like 3
  13. Morley Brown

    Ford had cut outs in 1963 and 64 Cable operated an option cost of 3.10 ceeeeents Shelby put them on the Shelby Mustangs

    Like 2
    • Solosolo Member

      I did the same to my ’67 Coupe as the trunk was way too small for long trip baggage.

    • Solosolo Member

      I did the same to my ’67 Coupe as the trunk was way too small for long trip baggage.

  14. dwcisme

    The Continental Kit was offered as a way to increase the trunk space however, made it very difficult to get into the trunk. Having the lake pipes on an otherwise stock bodied car seems unnecessary. Fuzzy dice? Really? I think more people put fuzzy dice on cars now than did in the 50’s. The only 50’s cliches missing are the over roof sun visor and curb feelers. This is a beautiful car that doesn’t need the add ons.

    Like 3
  15. bobhess bobhess Member

    Agree that there is too much stuff hanging on a real good looking car but surprised to see the Dodge spinner hubcaps on it. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen them. Another note… My uncle had one of these and even though I didn’t have my license yet he let me take it out for a ride. Lots of power pushing this car down the road.

    Like 1
    • Vince H

      Dodge Lancer wheel covers were the thing at one time. I too would lose the continental kit.

      Like 3
    • Chuck Dickinson

      Those are NOT Dodge spinner hubcaps. Those are MERCURY spinner hubcaps. Stock Merc items. Look closely again, they are NOT the same as Dodges.

  16. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Not crazy about the continental kit, but overall I like it. Kind of got into this era Merc’s back in the early 80’s. While at the house of a coworker of my Ex back then, found out the husband was rebuilding one. It had a lot of the usual Rust Belt issues and had already replaced both the rear quarters (and did it well) and was working on repairing the rest of the rust issues at the time. He had a warmed over 390 and transmission that was the planned power for it.
    I never got to see it finished as moved out of state shortly after that, but it looked exceptional.
    This one looks (subtracting the lake pipes and continental kit) like how I expect that his would have looked once done. I like it overall.

    Like 2
  17. JP

    Awesome ’56 Merc!

    Like 1
  18. BigDoc98783

    Never was a fan of Continental kits but I loved 56 Mercurys they just looked like monsters (in a good way).

    Like 2
  19. Rj

    Ok as soon as the Lake Pipes and the Continental Kit is gone which one of you is going to buy this Merc ?

  20. JoeBob

    It’s a nice Merc, minus the pipes and continental kit. I like that someone updated it with modern brakes. It looks like it’s been updated to 12v, too.

    • Dean Wilson

      ’56 was the first year for 12v in Ford vehicles.

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