Parked For 19 Years: 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser

Parked in a garage 19-years-ago, this 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser is a solid car that now runs and drives. It will require some restoration work, but given how solid it is, there seems to be no reason why it couldn’t be driven and enjoyed as it currently stands. Located in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, it has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has reached $2,525, but the reserve hasn’t been met.

The Turnpike Cruiser was new for the 1957 model year and only remained in production for two years. It was essentially Mercury’s range-topping offering and was designed with a number of distinctive and interesting features. The most obvious of these is the ventilation air intakes situated above the windshield. These were actually a design necessity to hide a body seam, but they do give the car a distinctive look. They also serve double duty, as they each contain a radio aerial. Another feature is the retractable “Breezeway” rear window, a feature that was eventually carried over into the Lincoln Continental Mark III. The owner describes the car as being finished in a combination of Classic White and Sunset Orchid, although in the photos it actually looks as though it is closer to Persimmon. Sometimes you can’t quite trust photos. He also states that the Mercury is 90% rust-free, and the photos of the floors certainly show a lot of promise. They look solid and clean, with the only obvious rust being some minor spots in the bottoms of the rear quarter panels. There are a couple of external trim pieces that have come off the car, but they are present, and reattaching them shouldn’t present a big problem. The rest of the trim appears to be in quite good condition, as does the tinted glass. It would be interesting to buff and polish the paint, trim and chrome to see how it responded. I think that the results would be quite positive, and it may even mean that the car could retain its original paint and still present well.

The interior of the Mercury is probably the most disappointing aspect of the car. The rear seat and rear trim look like they are in quite good condition, but the front seat is going to require a new cover. It looks like the door trims might be missing, so there could be a bit of work involved in sourcing replacements. With only 23,268 cars being built during the model’s 2-year production run, trim items like this are not likely to be thick on the ground. Still, a bit of patience might pay dividends on that issue. New carpet will be required, while the pad in front of the passenger seat is wrinkled, but should be able to be stretched back into place. The interior of the Turnpike Cruiser features some interesting design quirks. It is a bit hard to see in the photo, but the wheel isn’t perfectly round. The top of it is semi-flat, and Mercury claimed that this was to aid visibility. The gauges were also referred to by Mercury as the “Monitor Control Panel,” and included a tachometer, and an interesting clock and trip odometer arrangement that could calculate average speed on a journey. That made it a precursor to the modern trip computer.

After sitting for 19-years, the Mercury has been brought back to life and is now said to run and drive. It isn’t clear whether it is in a roadworthy state, but at least it’s a good starting point. The engine is a 368ci V8, producing 290hp. This power is sent to the rear wheels via a 3-speed automatic transmission, while power steering was standard fitment. At 4,190lbs, the Mercury is a bit on the heavy side, but it does provide quite surprising performance figures for a luxury car. A 0-60mph time of 8.3 seconds, coupled with a ¼ mile time of 16.7 seconds are both pretty decent. Of course, such figures come at a cost, and this is a car that will devour fuel to produce power. The average fuel consumption is around 11mpg. Still, if the car isn’t being used as a daily driver, who cares?

By 1958, the American driving public was beginning to shift their gaze towards smaller, more efficient cars. For the Turnpike Cruiser, this sounded the model’s death knell. In the 1958 model year, sales dropped by more than 60% over the previous year, and the decision was made to drop it from the Mercury range. Sales figures also weren’t helped by the car’s retail price of $3,850. This was only a couple of hundred dollars less than the average wage in the US at the time, pushing it beyond the reach of the vast majority of the population. A number of design features such as the “Breezeway” rear window lived on in other cars, which was a good thing. Even though 1957 was the car’s most successful year, only 7,291 examples of the 2-door Hardtop were built, and finding a good one today is not easy. When they do come onto the market, prices of around $28,000 for a nice example are what can be expected, while $35,000 or more is not out of the question. This one has a lot of potential, and I’d really love to see it once it has been returned to its best.

WANT ADS

WANTED 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix Rust free vehicle. Interior and motor/transmission not important. Need good sheetmetal Contact

WANTED 1967-1969 Pontiac Firebird Looking for an original 400 convertible, 3 or 4 speed preferred. No restomods. Contact

WANTED 1965-1985 Chrysler Fullsize Roadtrip car for crazy swede Nice original fullsize US car, up for a 5000 mile trip. Max 10 k USD. Contact

WANTED 1958 Buick Limited 2 Door Hard Top Looking for a 1958 Buick limited coupe hard top, survivor or restored. Contact

WANTED 1961 Chevrolet Biscayne Looking for a 1961 Biscayne in decent shape for an everyday driver. Will also consider Bel-Air Contact

Submit Your Want Ad

Comments

  1. Arthell64 Member

    You don’t see these every day. Would be neat driver.

    Like 9
  2. PatrickM

    I remember when these fort came out. I drooled like a new born baby. This is a pretty good deal. Yes, some work, but, I think the effort might be worth it. Restore and make a few modern day upgrades: brakes, be sure it has power steering and a/c ( I like my creature comforts). Wow! If only…

    Like 4
  3. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    A nice car, not often seen, but with a lot of potential. The rust issues should be thoroughly checked out, especially around the back window. You would also want to overhaul/upgrade the braking system after almost 20 years of sitting idle before you hit the road. Then you can drive it and chip away at the mechanicals and cosmetics as time and funds allow. Bringing up to show condition might be costly but for such a rare car it would be worth it.

    Like 5
  4. Will Fox

    Way, way too solid NOT to restore. I wonder if the seller has the pass. side door panel? SMS interiors has the fabric to re-do the front seat; others have acquired it for theirs. No, it’s no daily driver, but for those sunny Sunday car shows its fine. This car has seen a garage more than it’s seen PA. winters; the body is testimonial to that. As it is, the reserve is probably in the neighborhood of $12K or so, if not higher. It’s not a `57 Chevy; you will NOT find these at every cruise-in that’s for sure.

    Like 10
  5. Dave

    I would rather have an Oldsmobile Turnpike Cruiser, but why complain?

    Our neighbors, who weren’t our relatives but whom we knew as Uncle Tom and Aunt Thelma, had one of these. My father said that the first thing Tom did when he got it home was to start fiddling around under the hood.

    Before going blind in the early 1960s, they liked to travel. I still recall the Sunday rides they took me and my sister on. They didn’t have any kids of their own. I thank them for planting the wanderlust in us, the desire to see where the road goes.

    Uncle Tom got his vision back about two weeks before he died in 1975. He made me promise that I’d see Wyoming and Montana someday. I finally made it in 2017.

    They sold the car when he went blind; I wonder if this is the car.

    Thanks for the memory.

    Like 11
    • Don Diego

      Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser ??

      • Dave

        Olds made a 4 door Cutlass model with the running gear from the 442 and gearing meant for Interstate speed limits of the time. I think that it may have been a 1966-1967 model year only car.

      • Will Fox

        ..which was the glass-roofed Cutlass wagon. I think he just got his verbage mixed up is all. And it didn’t take “442 running gear” to match interstate speed limits then; even the 330 V8 could do 70-80 with no issues. He MIGHT be thinking of the `68 Olds Delta 88 package designed for the CA. highway patrol units. It was a 400HP 455 V8 & tough suspension.

      • Dave

        After I typed my reply I googled Oldsmobile Turnpike Cruiser and was amazed at how much I didn’t know about these cars. They talk about reducing frictional losses in the engine itself.

        Like 2
    • Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

      Dave, your parents allowed you and your sister to go for rides with your neighbor? Oh for the simpler times when such a friendly act would not be looked on with fear or suspicion…..

      Somehow I too developed the sense of wanderlust. Even today, I like to take back roads, “wonder where this road goes?”. Of course with our modern mapping sources one can’t get lost, well at least for those of us with at least a basic sense of direction. And yes, everyone should see Wyoming and Montana… and lots of other places in our wonderful country.

      I agree, a rarely seen car like this deserves restoration. Thanks Adam for the thorough write-up.

      Like 3
  6. local_sheriff

    In hindsight not necessarily a beautiful model; however it’s a true representative for the late 50s excessive car design. Several years since I last saw one at a car show; I remember being so impressed by the fake horizontal antennas atop the windshield.
    Cool unusual find that sure adds diversity to our hobby! 👍

    Like 2
  7. Kevin Mummery

    Turnip Crusher, is what we called these when I was a kid. Too bad cars don’t have names you can make fun of any more, like the Plymouth Dumpster.

    Like 2
    • local_sheriff

      There were a couple of candidates coming from Huyandai like their Puny and Accident models…by the way do you know why Honda Fit (originally named Fitta) never sold under that name in Europe…? There’s also a Lancia Musa that was not a very thoughtful name…

      Like 1
    • TheGasHole

      Let us not so quickly forget the Ford Probe and the Pontiac Vibe

  8. another Bob

    I remember my father buying a 1958 Turnpike Cruiser in the late 1970s for $100. It was green and white with a near-perfect interior and exterior. I loved that car.
    If I am remembering correctly, it had a push-button auto transmission.
    He later traded it and some cash for a 71 Caddy Eldorado convertible, which was a great ride although he wouldn’t let his 17-year-old son (me) drive that one because of his son’s history of being a little reckless with cars.
    I miss both of those vehicles and yes, I really miss Dad as well.

    Like 2
  9. Ken Carney

    A lot of these cars did indeed get crushed
    due to the fact they had a lot of unneeded gadgets that either broke, or
    never worked in the first place. Both this
    car and the Edsel almost bankrupted Ford Motor Company. And like the Edsel,
    no one wanted them as used cars either.
    I recall seeing a lot of these on used car
    back lots in the mid ’60s–some of them in mint condition with less than 30K miles on them. I’ve gotta agree with
    some folks who say the Turnpike Cruiser
    was too far out even when it was released in ’57. It’s just amazing how times have changed. Good luck to both
    the seller and the buyer.

    Like 2
  10. RJ

    I had the rag-top version in ’64-’65, and loved it at the time. It would pass anything on the freeway except a Sunoco station. I replaced it with a Triumph Herald rag-top – what a difference.

    Like 1
  11. Daniel Brooks

    We had one in the early 90’s same exact color combo. Sold the car to someone needing only the windshield. $1500. back then.

  12. Bob McK Member

    These are so beautiful restored.

  13. bigdoc

    Great looking car. I thought it was an Edsel when I first saw it. Really could be restored fairly easy. I have got to get my garage built darn it.

  14. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Same idea, different application: My Explorer Sport Trac has a “Breezeway” back glass that fully retracts. It provides great ventilation and I use it quite often. I open all the windows, including the back, and the sunroof and it feels like being in a convertible.

    I’m not sure why more vehicles didn’t adopt the idea.

    Like 1
    • Dave

      As a vehicle moves through the air, it creates a vacuum. That vacuum tends to draw exhaust gases into it. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a very sneaky thing.
      I used to own a 1993 Dakota with a sliding rear window. On a trip from Pittsburgh to Charlotte I had the slider open and was sick by the time I got there.
      Back in the day, this would happen to people who owned Mercurys with the retractable rear window, kids in the back of station wagons if driven with the rear window open, and people riding in the bed of a pick-up truck.
      A nice idea on its face, but dangerous in practice.

      Like 1
  15. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Like……

  16. MIKE READING

    the turnpike cruiser has been one of my dream cars to own, the other a 59 caddy. i fell in love with the cruiser about 30 years ago the first time i saw a picture of one, still haven’t seen one . i’ve been into edsels about 30 years and that’s when i saw picture of the cruiser, love this one even the colors are great, if only i could hit the lottery.

    Like 1
  17. Del Gray

    Rare car with extremelý rare options.

    I was quite excited until I saw what a mess the interior is in

    Like 1
  18. Butch

    My cousin had one of these new in 57. I always thought it stood out around most of the other cars around mostly Fords and Chevys. It was black with red trim.

    I pretty much think we can make fun of most all cars out there today. Boring!

    Like 1

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.