1954 Mercury Sun Valley

Taking advantage of the 1950s plastic craze, the 1954 Mercury Sun Valley sported a plastic see-through roof.
Taking advantage of the 1950s plastic craze, the 1954 Mercury Sun Valley sported a plastic see-through roof.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The 1954 Mercury Sun Valley may have been heavily promoted, but publicity was not its problem. The big problem was heat. To keep it down, the plexiglass section had to be tinted sun-glass green (though ads used an untinted type to show off the interior). Thus, the light that filtered inside seemed "kind of weird," according to Motor Trend, "and may cause many a young lady to check her makeup. She might as well switch to green lipstick."

And, though desert testing claimed only a five-degree difference between a 1954 Mercury Sun Valley and a normal hardtop interior, Mercury offered a snap-on interior shade for high summer. Air conditioning, although available in 1954, cost an arm and a leg, so few Sun Valleys had it.

The 1954 Mercury Sun Valley came in only two color combinations: yellow or mint green, both combined with a dark green top. Interiors featured yellow and dark green all-vinyl upholstery (which must have been uncomfortable), and white cloth-green vinyl. Gold "Sun Valley" script adorned the front fenders. Sun Valleys cost quite a lot -- $2,582 in 1954, compared to only about $2,150-2,250 for the Ford Skyliner.

With its bubbletop, the 1954 Mercury Sun Valley would have been merely an oddity, but the 1954 Mercury was generally an exceptional car. The Ford design generation of 1952-1954 was modest for the period: taut, clean, without chromium excesses, smoothly executed, and functional.

The 1954 Mercury Sun Valley emerged cleaner still, especially at the extremities. Its attractive taillights, fared into the rear fenders, could easily be seen from the sides and had fluting similar to that of later Mercedes, and which deflected road grime.

At the front rode a simple, one-bar grille under a crisp hood with a dummy airscoop (probably the only non-functional aspect). The dashboard, likewise clean and honest, featured aircraft-like toggle lever controls.

Mercury also debuted its all-new overhead valve V-8 in its 1954 Mercury Sun Valley; it displaced almost as much volume as its flathead predecessor. But whereas the flathead was a "stroker," the new Mercury V-8 boasted an oversquare configuration and developed a lot more power.

The 1954 Mercury Sun Valley featured a ball-joint front suspension and a new overhead-valve V-8.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Its novel four-barrel carburetor featured an inlet vacuum which replaced the mechanical linkage to the two rear Venturis, plus dual floats and a concentric fuel bowl. Other mechanical niceties of the 1954 Mercury Sun Valley included Mercury's first ball-joint front suspension, only four grease fittings, and more insulation than ever. But the unique feature remained that see-through top. Although all 1954 Mercurys had a lot of glass, the Sun Valley offered more square inches of visibility than any other car, including the 1954 Kaiser, which of course had a solid roof.

Mercury would field another Sun Valley in 1955, but whatever market existed had already been satiated, and so it found only 1,787 takers. No matter: the original stood out as the best.

Keep reading to learn about the specifications of the 1954 Mercury Sun Valley.

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