Real Rag Top! 1954 Mercury Monterey

We’ve covered a lot of 1954 Mercury Monterey “Sun Valley” editions, you know, the one with the plexiglass roof panel, but this is the first Monterey convertible that I have come across. And searching the Barn Finds library as far back as 2012, I couldn’t find where a convertible had been covered, so here we go. Located in Whitewater, Kansas, this rag-top (literally!) is available, here on eBay for a BIN price of $11,995. There is a make-an-offer option too. Larry D is responsible for this listing’s discovery.

Mercury offered two trim levels in ’54, the Monterey and the Custom. Monterey’s body styles included two-door hardtops and a convertible, as well as a four-door sedan and station wagon. Moving downstairs, the Custom presented itself in a two-door hardtop as well as two and four-door sedan versions. In spite of having little recognition of the Monterey convertible, they’re really not rare with almost 7,300 produced, but then again, that was 68 years ago so they could be rare today based on survivorship.

This is one of those situations where the exterior is probably in better shape than the interior, thanks to the torn roof. The finish is obviously faded and there is some noted surface rust but the body appears to be pretty solid. This one is an estate sale and has been supposedly cooling its heels for 30 years. It does look complete, however, at least as far as the trim, lights, glass, badging, etc. goes.

The listing advises, “Engine is free – and car will turn over – However I have not tried to start it“. What has not been started is a 161 gross HP, 256 CI V8 engine that is joined to a Merc-O-Matic automatic transmission. The mileage recording is 39K miles but there is no claim to that authenticity – and that being the case, it’s difficult to make a value judgment around the powertrain, though it is mentioned that the transmission was slipping before the three-decade slumber commenced.

The interior, as previously mentioned, has taken a hit, at least in the upholstery department. Beyond that, it’s about what one would expect. There’s plenty of dust and some noted deterioration but the instrument panel is cleaner than I would have expected. This Merc has that cool “shelf” that extends out from just beneath the instrument panel and houses the air and vent controls.

So, the attraction here is that this is not the similar, but more commonly found ’54 Ford, and, it’s a convertible. Beyond that, it appears to be a sound basis for a refurbishment. The seller suggests, “Ready for your restoration or Resto Mod” I think I’d pass on the resto-mod idea but a restoration would be a definite. The only other issue is the ask, what do you think, priced right, or not quite?


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    For a car that needs everything the asking price is twice what it would be sensible to pay. Don’t know what the going rate for a similar car in good condition is but I’d bet it’s less than what the final number is going to be on this one. Mid ’50s Mercs were good looking and fast… right up to the ’58 models.

    Like 6
    • Tim Tebo

      The car sold at the estate sale for $5700. Buyer is trying to hit a home run with flipping it.

      Like 4
      • Scott D Carey

        Super common these days, everyone is now a flipper

  2. Terrry

    a ’54 Merc is a very handsome car, but at the asking price this thing should be drop-dead gorgeous.

    Like 3
  3. Connecticut mark

    Looks like the cars in Grease, Kinicki or Travoltas car?

  4. Michelle Rand Staff

    Great writeup. Love the car, expensive or not.

    Like 2
  5. DON

    Its a flipper selling it ; he is looking to make a quick fortune on his recent purchase. Her does say he is open to offers, so maybe a realistic offer could make the sale .

    Like 3
    • Scott D Carey

      Very common these days

      Like 1
  6. Big C

    Agreed. $12k’s a bit expensive. But then, when’s the last time you’ve seen one?

    Like 3
  7. Johnmloghry johnmloghry

    Imagine for a moment; It’s the fall of 1953, you’re about 2 years out of college and have landed a good job with a solid company, now you want to buy a new car, you want a car that says I’m on my way, but still sporty looking. Caddy’s and Lincolns are too expensive and to massive for you, but a Mercury convertible is just right, red is the color that sets it off, it has every option available. You make your down payment, and now it’s time for fun. You put the top down and go cruising around town to see how many people are staring at you. When you get home you call all your friends to come see your new car, they all make comments and ask for rides, you make a date for the evening, it goes so well you’re now the most popular person amongst your friends and life just gets better as time goes by. Now it’s 2022 all you have left are memories of those great days, you want to buy a new Mercury convertible but alas! they don’t make them any more, but then you see this one on Barn Finds and you instantly know it’s my chance to go back to the fall of 1953.

    God Bless America

    Like 11
  8. Bunky

    There’s just something about a Mercury, as the saying goes. This grand old girl and I have the same “year of manufacture”! Great restoration project. I’m a Ford Guy (there is no known cure), but the Y Block was not Ford’s best effort. They can be made reliable with some “minor adjustments”. The oil passages were just too small, especially for the lubricants used at that time. Judicious enlarging of the oil passages, a high volume oil pump, and balancing, would make a world of difference. I’m afraid that a restoration, even starting with a solid, and complete car like this would end up being a “labor of love”, as opposed to a financially rewarding undertaking. As beautiful as this car is, Mercurys just don’t command the big bucks- even though, IMHO, they should. I hope someone takes this worthy project on. Great find and write up.

    Like 1
    • gaspumpchas

      Yea Bunky, that 54 merc mill is a dog- ony made it one year.and it doesnt interchange with anything. Even the later Y blocks, as Bunky points out, were not much better, Since its not a heavy hitter value wise, a later eng would make it a nice driver. Hope someone takes it on. Good luck!

  9. Charles B. Clarke Member

    #4 $12,000.00 and this is NOT a #4
    $4,000.00 max and the $8,000.00 to get you to $12,000.00 would put it at a #4

  10. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    My uncle had one of these in a mint green hardtop. He gave it to my mom when he bought his Jaguar.
    I was probably 6 years old at the time. The thing I remember most was the spaceship type controls for the heater and vents. Was always fascinated with that.

    Like 4
  11. George Birth

    Considering this is going everything from the inside out I would offer $119.95. You will need a new interior, new carpet quite possibly new floor pans, new top, and new paint, plus go through all the mechanicals. Engine, brakes, and trans. and hopefully the rear axel bearings are not froze up. In other words a new old car.

    • karl

      You’re still living in 1964, I’m guessing ? You couldn’t buy one tire for this car at that price

      Like 4
  12. Joe Haska

    I was 10 years old in 1953 and I have had more 1953 cars than any other year and I don’t know why? I do know I would also like to have this Mercury. I do agree it is probably overpriced. If you buy at the 12 K number you are not going to be able to flip it. You have to restore it, love it and keep it.

  13. james hoffman

    Hi you guys seem to be very educated about production numbers i have a 1941 ford 4 door with one of the first 6cyl engines i know this because its car #881 and fan is mounted on crank, im trying to find out how rare it is im pretty sure its a first day production car thanks

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