Orphan Hauler: 1959 Mercury Commuter

After serving as a child hauler for an orphanage, this poor old Mercury Commuter (named Jenny), was parked in 1979 not to be touched again until 2015 at the time of the original owners passing. Saved from a garage that was soon to be demolished, this Mercury is rare, and has some highlights that make it a worthwhile project. With no bids as of yet, the opening bid price for this cool wagon is $6,595. Check it out here on eBay out of Edgemoor, South Carolina. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Ben S. for the cool submission!

Although the optional 383 V8 sat dormant for almost 40 years, the seller was able to rebuild the carburetor and get the engine to run. Although capable of running, the cooling system has yet to be serviced, so it can only be run for short periods of time. There is a generous amount of surface rust present in the engine compartment, but all of the sheet metal appears thick, and without rot.

Hidden from the harmful rays of the sun for several decades, the interior has aged rather nicely. The worst of the interior is the split front bench, the weathered flooring, and some minor paint wear on the steering wheel. Outside of those concerns leaves very nice and solid door panels, as well as a beautiful dash, and a nice rear seat. One cool feature is the fold down rear seat that offers a great deal of space, and versatility. Also the rear window is “power” offering even more versatility for those extra-long items Americans needed to haul around in 1959.

Here’s a little additional info from Staff Writer Todd F – “Jenny” here was named after the woman who used her to transport children for the “Wash Lawn Children’s Home By Faith.” Mercury called all these wagons “Country Cruisers,” with the “Colony Park” as the top trim line above the Voyager and entry-level Commuter. The hard top (no post) greenhouse and wraparound front and rear windows were all about style and visibility. Aside from visible rust and a few dents the old girl doesn’t look too bad. That “M” logo on the left is the blank space for the optional “Seat-o-Matic” control. You may be familiar with this feature that slides the power seat back for easy entry and exit, then returns it to your favorite position when you twist the key. The layers of cockpit-style instruments and controls are typical for an era when flying cars were considered no more than a few decades away. While the full-zoot Colony Park might appeal more to the country club set, this entry-level Mercury has plenty of style and a great back-story.

Even though there is some easy to see cancer in the lower parts of the body, the seller stresses that this Mercury is solid. From the description it would seem that rodents, and other sources of moisture caused the rust and rot along the driver side. The driver door is crispy at the bottom, as well as the rocker and quarter area. Thankfully the passenger side is much better off looking only to have one crispy spot in the bottom of the passenger side door. Beyond the visible exterior rust, it would seem that the floors and frame are solid, needing little to no attention.  Mostly straight, there are some dents to make note of. The passenger side front fender is a bit scuffed up, and the front bumper is bowed upward as well. Also there is a dent in the passenger rear quarter and there also appears to be a sheet metal rip in the lower portion of the quarter. All of the glass is intact minus the rear glass and the driver side rear glass, although both are flat panels. There is a fair amount of body work to be put into this classic Commuter, but it seems worth it for this “Wash Lawn” Orphanage hauler. Would you revive this stylish Mercury wagon?

Fast Finds


  1. American_Badaz

    Dang what a classy looking wagon!!
    I would roll that all day.

  2. DrinkinGasoline

    1958 and 1959 were not kind years for Ford/Mercury (regrettably) in sales numbers compared to the other Big 2 of the big 3 after the 1957 Ford sales victory over Chevrolet. Chevy would then step up to the plate with a totally redesigned 58 and then again in 59 with a carryover to 60 with respectable sale figures. Then, 1960 arrived and Ford retaliated with the the space age design and would continue with individual year model design as well as Chevrolet. It was a great time to be a young car lover for sure. Galaxie or Bel Air ? It was a polarizing time for certain.

    • Kevin

      What are you talking about?, 59 was an excellent year for Ford, they took back the top spot. As far as 58, nobody had a banner year, it was a recession year. Chrysler did horrible, plagued with quality and rust issues.

  3. L.M.K. Member

    Cool but I think the opening bid is off by a couple of grand…on the high side…

    • Tom Indrieri

      Ya $3500 would be more like it for the amount of rust repair and you know the floors are not in too good of shape…

  4. Mark in WNC

    Not sure what engine it has but it isn’t a 383.

  5. jw454

    Other than missing it’s snare drum sized air cleaner, it sure looks like a 383 to me.

  6. stillrunners lawrence Member

    cool..what LMK said….but you have to start somewhere….what they paid plus 20 %……..?

  7. Sam

    Very cool wagon! I’ll take a late 50’s Merc, Mopar, Olds or Buick wagon over a tri-year Chevy wagon any day of the week.

    Here goes…Ford crate motor, 58 or 59 T-Bird front buckets, red leather, gray suede inserts, console with 4 speed, tomato soup red paint, polish the chrome, new white walls, Detroit steel wheels, preserve the top half of the tailgate.

    Have fun!

  8. JimmyJ

    Pillarless wagon gotta love em

  9. jeff6599

    By the way, it is not an orphan. Its parent company is still alive (FoMoCo). Orphan vehicles are those who parent corporation folded such as AMC, Studebaker-Packard, Crosley. Just like Chevrolet Corvairs and Vegas and Novas: they aren’t and wouldn’t be called orphans. That make or model just stopped being built. Think Plymouth, Desoto and many others, Edsels; nobody calls them orphans, because the parent company is alive and well.

    Remember, if the corporation that made them goes out of business, the cars are parentless, therefore orphaned. Think what would happen at car shows if Pontiacs, Plymouths, Hummers, Mercurys and so many more were put in a so called Orphan class.

    • Dan

      The car hauled orphans.

    • jtnc

      I see what you are saying, but I don’t think there is any universal definition of an “orphan” car. There is a famous Orphan Car Show in the Midwest somewhere that includes Edsel, Plymouth, DeSoto etc. I think their definition is the marque (or make), not the fate of the parent company. I don’t think that AMC is any more an orphan than Plymouth. AMC didn’t exactly just “fold,” it was bought by Chrysler (to get Jeep) and ultimately all of the non-Jeeps were discontinued. Chrysler itself was first bought by Daimler-Benz, then some venture capitalists, then Fiat. Did Chrysler “fold?”

      • Kevin

        No, Chrysler didn’t fold, but they were on the verge. If there is such a thing as an automotive orphan, it would have to be Jeep. That name has changed hands more times than a $20 prostitute. American-Bantam, Willys, Kaiser, AMC, Chrysler. I wonder who’s next. Lol.

    • MikeH

      If you go by orphan car shows, Mercury is an orphan. They go by marque, not manufacturer. It get tricky though. Like the Corvair. It was called a Chevrolet, but was also its own marque. Also, cars like Peugeots. They are still made but not sold in the US. They used to accept Alfas–but now they are again sold in the US. Rules get complicated.

  10. Kevin

    The Mopar heads are going what? A 383? Huh? Lol. But that’s what it is, a 383. Mercury’s had them for several years. Too bad it isn’t the Super Torque 4barrel. Would be ultra rare.

  11. Mark in WNC

    Never knew Mercurys had a 383…learn something new all the time! That’s what I love about this site!

    • Tom Indrieri

      Yep it’s a 383 to bad not the dual carb Super Maurader!
      1960 they came with both 383 and the 430…my partner John and I at the time when we had Big M Auto together owned 100’s of these. Unfortunately I ran one just like this in a destruction derby that was twice as nice and good ol’ CA rust free body :(

      • Skibum2

        Sorry, had a 1959 T-Bird with a 430..

  12. Howard A Member

    It seems I learn a new displacement motor every day here. Whatever it is, I don’t understand the logic of putting the fuel pump right behind the radiator. You’d think that would be a recipe for vapor lock. I see the 1st Cadillac V8’s had that too. You can see it resembles a ’59 Ford, but really is a much different car. I love it. As usual, I’d put a modern motor in, but be a classy ride either way.

  13. MRE2ME

    Never seen this model. It’s Miles ahead in style over the Ford version that my dad had. Hope someone is very respectful when restoring or modifying this old beauty.

  14. TR

    Can anyone explain why someone mentions putting a crate motor in every car. My 66 Skylark Wildcat 310 and 68 LTD 390 are both bone stock other than duels with glass packs and run beautifully at any legal speed and beyond. I feel one of the neatest aspects of old vehicles are the unique power plants. I also like Ford Highboys with Cadillac power, T-Buckets with nailheads, and almost anything without a Chevy 350 unless that’s what the car came with. Call me crazy I guess

  15. PhilB

    Yeah, it’s a 383. My oldest brother gave me a 58 Merc with that engine. It wasn’t running right, so I R&R’d the heads and intake. This was before I even had my license in the early 60’s. I used a tire iron to remove the head bolts. Used all the same gaskets, etc. Nothing wrong there. Put it back together and it ran. Turned out that the fuel pump arm had worn down and wasn’t pumping gas. A guy at a local gas station brazed a bump on it for me, and it ran fine.

    • Kevin

      So you just automatically pulled the heads because it wasn’t running right? And then reused the old head gaskets? Alrighty than! Lol.

  16. jeff6599

    TR for president!

  17. jeff6599

    During 50s, 60s, 70s etc car shows, there were classes for the so called
    “Independents”, not manufactured by the Big Three. The Independents monicker stuck until someone got cutsie and began calling them Orphans.
    Now that all the Independent car makers are gone, the newbies think it is proper to call their Corvairs and Oldsmobiles Orphans. They didn’t call the Bonneville an orphan when it’s line was dropped. They didn’t call the BelAir an orphan when it’s line was dropped. The corporations that produced them are still there: the parent corp. Do you really want to ingrain discontinued cars as Mercury, Olds, Pontiac, Plymouth into a category with Studebaker, Nash, Hudson, Crosley and others where sales weren’t strong enough (the cars weren’t liked enough) to allow the parent corporations to remain in business.

    And then, what do you do with the Bricklins and DeLoreans of the world. This discussion could go on for ever with new names coming in and some dropping out. All we are trying to do is correct a light hearted erroneous designation that went ‘viral’ in the last decade or two.

    • DweezilAZ

      Bonneville and BelAir are trim designations not model lines. No one ever suggested them as being “orphans”. Irrelevant.

      The point of the article and the ad is that this car carried orphans [children whose parents died or abandoned them ] that lived in a home run by it’s owner.

      Bricklin and Delorean would be, yes, “orphan” brands. Parent “died or abandoned” , hence orphan, hence Pontiac, Olds, Mercury, Saturn, Plymouth etc, are…. orphans.

  18. DweezilAZ

    Orphan: “not authorized, supported, or funded; not part of a system; isolated; abandoned:
    an orphan research project.”

    Specifically: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/orphan

  19. jeff6599

    Orphan category of cars in shows: Not authorized

  20. whippeteer

    Of course the seats fold down.

  21. 59 wagon owner

    I own this car. It is still available.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.