Manual Merc: 1968 Mercury Montego MX


Raise your hands if you like to shift for yourself? This 1968 Mercury Montego MX has a 3-speed manual and it’s in Velarde, New Mexico, about 40 miles north of the capital, Santa Fe. It’s on Craigslist for $4,200 or $5,200 with a replacement 4-speed out of a Fairlane/Comet with floor shifter and linkage.


Automatics are useful for folks who can’t operate a clutch pedal anymore and/or for commuting duties, and three of our vehicles are automatics so I like them, too. And, obviously the foot-clutch-operated manual transmission that we’ve all known and loved for decades will eventually go the way of cursive writing. The Montego MX was in the Comet family and was new for 1968. This car looks great, body-wise, but paint-wise it’ll need some help. You may have noticed the trim piece missing on the leading edge of the hood, hopefully that’s in the trunk.


This is probably the body style to have in this car (or, in any car?), the two-door hardtop. The Montego was made in this style until 1971 when they went all whack-a-doodle with the design. Kidding of course, I like the next generation cars, but there’s just something about this late-60s era of Mercury that I like, they’re so Jack Lord.


The MX got simulated walnut interior trim and this interior looks pretty good, and you can also see that this car was originally, probably, Grecian Gold and why it was painted a gray color is beyond me. But, someone liked it and that’s all that matters. I’m not sure if it’s a good sign to see a rusty door top like that? I don’t think that I’ve ever seen that before and it looks like it may have messed up the arm rest and who knows what the floors are like. Scary, but other than that..


This is a 302 V8 two-barrel with 210 hp. A 230 hp four-barrel option was available and if a buyer really wanted to go, a 325 hp 390 V8 was an option; that would be quite a find. This car looks pretty good to me, you’ll have to budget in a couple of grand for a nice paint job back to the original color, or that’s what I would do since everything else is that color other than the peeling gray paint. I would personally pass on the $1,000 4-speed, a 3-speed column-shifter works for me. Are there any Montego MX fans in the house?


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  1. Nate Member

    Keep it column shift!

  2. Flmikey

    I agree with passing on the 4-speed/shifter, I don’t agree with manual transmissions going the way of cursive writing…people still want them, and until they can develop an auto that gets mileage like a manual, they will be around…

    • 68 custom

      have you looked lately? the newfangled CVT autos are sometimes pulling down better fuel mileage than the stick shifts. I know the newest Corolla is a case in point. BTW my DD has a 5 speed manual.

      • Rocco

        Maybe so, but those CVT’s are in the shop for trans repairs more offen that a manual, and you have to get a second mortgage on your house to pay for it, or refinance your auto loan. Talk about being upside down. If I won a vehicle that had that trans in it, from a raffle, I’d dump it as fast as I could back to the promoter or a dealer.

  3. grant

    I like this, although I’m not sure when any rust anywhere would ever be a good thing or not. This one appears to have been left in the weather with the window cracked, or the seals leak. Still pretty cool.

  4. brakeservo

    I lived in Santa Fe in the1980’s and sold Buicks and Pontiacs. We had a number of customers from Los Alamos – they were all weirdly over-educated with PhD’s in nuclear physics but totally lacking common sense or even social skills. Well, one of these guys was so disappointed to learn that he couldn’t get a new Buick Electra with a three- speed manual that he stormed out. A few days later he sent his fat wife down with a tape measure to get some obscure interior measurement we couldn’t provide. What a laugh we had watching her all bent over, her huge butt aimed skyward while getting her precious measurements. Maybe this three speed stick Merc had been their old car – it’s in the right area!

  5. JCW Jr.

    I don’t think that is rust. It appears to be from someone especially arm riding on the top with the window down. Looks like combination of grease/dirt and wear. Usually see this on driver side not the passenger side.

    Like 1
    • Joe Btfsplk

      My late father-in-law must have had a corrosive perspiration condition. The door top edge on his pickup’s paint seemed to shrivel and melt away like it had been hit with paint remover. He always rode with the window down and his arm resting on the door. Considering the rest of the interior condition, I’d bet there are other folks out there with the same body chemistry.

      Like 1
      • brakeservo

        Well, gee, look at the drivers door of my RHD Cobra – yes, that aluminum showing through . . . and no, I NEVER intend to paint or “restore” the car!

  6. Bob_S

    Another late 60’s / 70’s silver car with the paint coming off. The auto companies, foreign and domestic, had problems with silver paint for quit a few years. I had a new 79 silver RX7 and after 3 years the clear coat started coming off.

    • Stang1968

      That paint is not original. They didn’t clear coat them in ’68.

  7. angliagt

    Love that body style.
    My Wife has a 2007 Ford Fusion with a 5 speed,
    4cylinder.Actually fun to drive,for a newer car,plus
    no screen in the dash.

  8. Howard A Member

    I’d raise my hand, but my rotator cuff is so worn out from shifting, I can’t. I’d leave it alone too. Nothing wrong with a column shift. Make a great “anti-theft” device. The last column shift vehicle, was supposedly, the 1986 Ford F-150. I’d bet some wouldn’t know how to shift this. What surprises me, is someone would order a car like this in ’68, and still get a manual transmission, when automatics were more than proven reliable by 1968. Always liked Mercury’s, and that’s another sad thing, someday (soon?) someone is going to ask, “What’s a Mercury”?

    • al8apex

      I took my drivers test in a 1970 LTD 4 door sedan with a 3 on the tree and blackwall tires

      It was my dads company car from Ford. The very next year all company cars had to have an automatic and white walls. I guess they were tired of trying to sell the obscure cars my dad (and others apparently) was ordering

      I was a master of the downshift with that car

      46 years later ALL of my cars have a clutch pedal

      Like 1
      • Ralph Terhune

        I own a 1966 Mercury Montclair 4 door hardtop with PDB, P/S, power trunk and a 390 2BBL with the three on the tree manual transmission. I love it because it’s so odd.

  9. al8apex

    Scotty, FYI, the body change came in 1970, lasted until 71, then the 72 redesign came. 68-69 was the “same” and the 428 SCJ was avail. I worked at a Lincoln Mercury dealer and one of the mechanics had the same body 428 SCJ with a base cloth seat interior column shift automatic

    Dog dish hub caps too, it was his family sleeper. I understand he made a lot of $$$ street racing it

  10. angliagt

    Can we find out who the flagger is.
    Seems like they’re just going through the
    posts & clicking.
    Looks to me like they’re all coming
    from the same person.

  11. al8apex


    I agree, block this troll

  12. Vintage racer 55

    I took my drivers test in a ’63 Impala , 327, 3 on the tree. (No synchro first)
    The very first right first right hand corner was very slow. So I had to double clutch into first. The examiner asked what I was doing. So I explained the need for double clutching. He said” Turn around you pass!”
    One block drivers test!

  13. the one

    .How can you tell it is a column shift?

  14. Roadstir

    Looks exactly like my white ’69 Montego MX I drove in high school – first car!

  15. Jay

    My grandfather had a 1968 Ford Galaxie 500 with a 302 and a three on the tree. It was a two door hardtop. I wish that I had that car now. Living in Massachusetts, it went to the junk yard in 1976 with a rusted frame. He replaced it with a Pinto, boy was my grandmother mad.

  16. Ralph Terhune

    I have a ’66 Mercury Montclair 4door hardtop with the 3 on the tree manual trans. Fun car to cruise in.

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