Used and Abused: 1953 Mercury Monterey Hardtop

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When a seller uses the term “used and might of been abused just a little” in their classic car advertisement, you know you are dealing with a car requiring plenty of TLC. Such is the case with this 1953 Mercury Monterey Hardtop, begging the question of whether it is a viable project or will serve as a parts source for another build. However, it is an essentially complete vehicle that deserves more than a passing glance. The Monterey is listed here on eBay in Baker, Florida. The seller set their auction to open at $2,500, although there are no bids. I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder Larry D for spotting this beauty.

Originally part of the Mercury Eight series in 1950, the Monterey became a standalone model in 1952. It received some minor styling upgrades for 1953, although the most significant news was the company’s decision to add a station wagon to the range. This ’53 Monterey Hardtop has seen a hard life and needs plenty of love to return to its rightful place on our roads. Its India Black paint is faded and worn, with plenty of surface corrosion visible. That is the first hurdle the new owner must overcome, but there is also penetrating rust requiring attention. It has impacted many lower body extremities, including the rockers, lower fenders, and one rear quarter panel. The seller indicates rust in the floors, but it isn’t clear whether this is patchable. They state that all trim pieces are present, although some require restoration. The windshield is broken, but the remaining glass is okay.

Powering this Mercury is the legendary 255ci flathead V8 that produced 125hp in its prime. The driving experience would have been pretty relaxed courtesy of the original owner’s decision to opt for the three-speed Merc-O-Matic transmission and power steering. Although it wasn’t a high-performance model, this classic would have happily cruised all day at 60mph. It is unclear when the V8 last fired a shot in anger, but its appearance suggests that much water has passed under the bridge since. The seller indicates it will take work to get it running, but if it turns freely, anything is possible. However, budgeting for a rebuild as part of the restoration might be a wise strategy.

The Mercury’s interior could be the surprise packet with this classic. It is nowhere near perfect, but it would be fascinating to see how it responded to a deep clean. The supplied photos are limited, but it appears that the seats might benefit from that type of attention. Some trim items will be for the trash, but a surprising amount could be salvaged. My favorite feature is the controls for the heater and vents, which operate via aircraft-style levers behind the wheel. By the day’s standards, the inclusion of power windows, an AM radio, and a clock gave this classic an air of luxury.

Although it only lacks a few minor components, returning this 1953 Mercury Monterey to its former glory represents a significant undertaking. The harsh reality is that it has a question mark hanging over it as a financially viable project. Values have softened recently, meaning it is possible to buy a spotless Monterey of this vintage for less than $30,000. The Hardtop variant was easily the most popular in 1953, with 76,119 buyers parking one in their driveway. That means it wasn’t particularly rare when new, but natural attrition means they rarely come to market today. That might be this car’s saving grace. If someone can perform most of the work themselves, it could look okay as a long-term prospect. Are you willing to take that chance?

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  1. Michelle RandStaff

    Too bad, I like this and the Montclair. This one needs to be a donor.

    Like 1
  2. Will Fox

    Those road lamps mounted to the front bumper bring over $2500. a set themselves!

    Like 1
  3. gaspumpchas

    Too bad its so far gone—being in fla is a minus if its near the salt water. Love these. Hmm if you could bring that flatty back, put a 5 speed behind it and let ‘er rip. Good luck!

    Like 1
  4. jpseph P smith

    My dad had one just like this only with a light green top!

    Like 2
  5. Christopher Gentry

    Period mild custom ? Restore all the front and rear chrome , ditch the rest , can’t apple red , chrome reverse wheels , tuck n roll upholstery. WAY over my head , but some one out there

    Like 0
  6. Mountainwoodie

    All it needs is some moss dripping off the body…….oh wait….

    Like 1
  7. Christopher Gentry

    Hahaha. Iove it

    Like 0
  8. bone

    Adams “real estate salesman ” lingo again –

    surface corrosion = rust
    penetrating rust = rot
    might benefit from that type of attention = trashed
    respond to a deep clean = moldy,dirty.,mouse infested
    last fired a shot in anger = seized

    This heap has no hope of ever being on the road again, unless is on a trailer – Its not rare or popular enough to be restored, or even made as a driver. At best ,its a parts car for another ,more solid project, but you would be hard pressed to find the few people restoring one that actually needs what few parts are left

    Like 2
  9. grant

    Any time I see the phrase “might of” in an advertisement, I know I’m dealing with a seller who failed English class…

    Like 1
  10. Maggy

    Is that a spark plug non fouler on the last plug on the pass side.

    Like 0

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