1957-1958 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser

1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser Design
This 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser hardtop came with a continental kit, a popular Fifties accessory.
This 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser hardtop came with a continental kit, a popular Fifties accessory.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Supporting the 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser's jazzy body were a frame and suspension much like the 1957 Ford's. Wheelbase stretched by four inches on wagons and three inches on other models to 122 inches (versus Ford's 116/118). Overall height was reduced four inches from 1956, thanks in part to the new chassis and its lower floorpan, which also increased interior room. Front suspension was Ford's new 1957 ball-joint design with "swept back" lower control arms. Rear-end geometry was also similar, with longer leaf springs pinned outboard of the frame in front, a redesigned hypoid axle placed further back than before, and a new tapered driveshaft.

One suspension element was unique to Mercury wagons and other models with the optional 368 V-8 except convertibles. That was the pneumatic "doughnuts" that replaced the rear springs' normal front shackles. Theoretically, they were supposed to improve ride comfort and prevent bottoming; in practice, they were neither better nor worse than the regular shackles. However, they did prove extremely durable. Some have been known to last a quarter-century.

Mercury retained a four-series lineup for 1957. The previous year's low-end Medalist and Custom were canceled, while wagons were now a separate model group, as was Turnpike Cruiser. Monterey, mid-level Montclair, and equivalent wagons came with the 312-cubic-inch V-8 introduced for 1956 (bore and stroke: 3.80 x 3.44 inches). Higher, 9.75:1 compression boosted horsepower from 210-235 to 255, with 340 Ibs/ft torque peaking at 2,600 rpm.

The Mercury Turnpike Cruiser paced the 1957 Indy 500. Replicas were offered, but this is one of the four originals.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Standard for Turnpike Cruiser and optional elsewhere was the four-barrel ECU 368 V-8 with dual exhausts. This was essentially the 1956-1957 Lincoln and Continental Mark II powerplant with a quarter-point compression drop (to 9.75:1) and a few other modifications that yielded 290 horsepower at 4,600 rpm. Peak torque was 405 Ibs/ft at 2,800 rpm. There was also a high-performance M-335 version built mainly for racing, named for its horsepower with twin four-barrel carbs and tighter compression.

While lesser 1957 Mercurys were seen as strictly middle-price cars, the Turnpike Cruiser was intended to vie with the likes of Olds 98, Buick Super, DeSoto Fireflite, and Chrysler New Yorker. Model offerings were initially limited to two- and four-door hard-tops priced at $3,758 and $3,849, respectively. The latter came in $532 more than the equivalent Montclair, $419 above the Montclair convertible, and $172 higher than the posh Colony Park wagon. A Cruiser convertible arrived later in the season at $4,013, and was selected pace car for the 1957 Indianapolis 500.

On the next page, read about the gear you'd find on a 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser.

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