The 1960 Mercury was a quieter presence than bolder, earlier models. Mercury models of the late 1950s could make a sensitive soul shriek in horror. Recalled today as veritable icons of their time, the big boats were laden with chrome, sharply sculptured angles, and windshields curved so severely as to defy the imagination -- everything, in short, that signified excess.
Sure, sales slipped in 1958 -- the year of what many consider the most excessive Mercury of all, and a rough year for the industry. Yes, fewer yet were sold in 1959, when Mercurys displayed a slightly less cluttered look -- but added even more inches. Nevertheless, thousands of Americans took these overstuffed Mercurys to heart and eagerly brought them home; just as thousands of others were overjoyed to acquire the latest Edsel.
What looks hideous in retrospect, of course, didn't seem half bad at the time -- at least in the minds of many a middle-class motorist. And today, plenty of collectors covet the most glaring examples of American overstyling.
Mercury wasn't alone in catering to questionable tastes, to be sure; plenty of makes were comparably baroque. Depending on one's taste, Mercury was either the best or the worst example of the lot. If nothing else, they were unique, with an undeniable identity.
Overall, the 1960 Mercury face-lift was an improvement, with less chrome decoration and rounded lines softening the former sharp edges, even though the basic shapes and rooflines remained.
Slim, vertical taillights encased within upright bumper pods replaced the huge triangular lenses of 1959, and though vestigial fins were discernible above, it made for a more subtle attitude. Quad headlights moved down into the new concave grille, giving the front end a less immense and blocklike stance. Both windshields and backlights again displayed startling compound curves.
Continuing on a 126-inch wheelbase, the 1960 Mercurys were mighty big cars, offered on three levels. Montereys carried a 312-cid V-8 (383-cid optional), while the more costly Montclair and upscale Park Lane stuck with their Lincoln-derived 430-cid V-8, reduced to 310 bhp from its former 345, via reduced compression. Cutting back on power came as a surprise after the Fifties horsepower race, but was triggered by the severe recession of 1958.
Also for economy, 2.71:1 and 2.91:1 axles were available with the 383- or 430-cid engine. Still, with 460 pounds/feet of torque on tap, the 430 V-8 remained a mighty machine. No one need have feared, in any case: before long, bhp figures would be rising again.
Learn more details about the differences between the 1960 Mercury Monterey, Montclair, and Park Lane on the next page.
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The 1960 Mercury Park Lanes displayed the most brightwork, including rocker panel moldings that extended through fender skirts and across the quarter panels to meet the vast taillight housing. A sharp creaseline above the rocker panel reached over the front wheel. Five trim pieces ahead of rear wheel openings identified the Park Lane; three such strips went on Montclairs; none on Monterey.
A column-shift three-speed was standard on the 1960 Mercury Monterey; Montclairs came with Merc-O-Matic, with Park Lanes adding Multi-Drive to the automatic. Mercury's ladder frame had bowed box-girder side rails, with convertibles adding X-type center reinforcement.
Convertibles were offered in the 1960 Mercury Monterey and Park Lane lines, while Commuter and Colony Park station wagons (the latter sided in woodgrain) formed a series of their own. Prices ranged from $2,631 for a Monterey two-door sedan to $4,018 for the luscious Park Lane ragtop.
A diverse color selection included 15 Super Enamel monochrome hues and 35 two-tone combinations. Options ranged from power steering at $106 and a four-way power seat for $76.50, to air conditioning at $471. Lesser-ranked Mercurys could step up to Multi-Drive Merc-O-Matic (with dual drive ranges) in exchange for extra dollars.
Substantial size translates to ample weight, and Mercury was no exception. A Park Lane convertible tipped the scales at 4,500 pounds; the Colony Park wagon added a few more.
Even with all that heft to haul, performance wasn't too bad. Motor Trend evaluated a Montclair with the 310-bhp, 430-cid V-8 and optional Multi-Drive Merc-O-Matic. Taking off in D-1 Range yielded a 0-60 time of 12 seconds flat, while the quarter-mile demanded 17.7 seconds at 76 mph. Using D-2 range took an extra 1.1 seconds to hit 60 mph, and the quarter-mile lasted 18.6 seconds (75 mph).
Reaching the 154,000 mark, full-size Mercury production was up a few thousand from 1959. As it would turn out, however, this was to be the last Mercury with a distinct identity. Starting in 1961, Mercury would shrink to a 120-inch wheelbase and amount to little more than a restyled, posher, and more costly Ford -- just as it continues to be today.
See the specifications for the 1960 Mercury on the next page.
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1960 Mercury Specifications
The 1960 Mercury was still built on a 126 inch wheelbase but had less horsepower than before.
Engines: all ohv V-8; 312 cid (3.80 x 3.44), 205 bhp; 383 cid (4.30 x 3.30), 280 bhp; 430 cid (4.30 x 3.70), 310 bhp
Transmissions: 3-speed manual; overdrive, 3-speed Merc-O-Matic (standard on Montclair), and Multi-Drive Merc-O-Matic (standard on Park Lane) optional
Suspension front: upper and lower A-arms, coil springs, link-type stabilizer
Suspension rear: live axle, leaf springs
Brakes: front/rear drums
Wheelbase (in.): 126.0
Weight (lbs.): 3,901-4,558
Top speed (mph): V8-430: 110-115
0-60 mph (sec): V8-430: 12.0-13.1