1962-1963 Mercury S-55


The reverse-slant Breezeway roofline of the S-55 coupe was brought to the four-door hardtop in 1963.
The reverse-slant Breezeway roofline of the S-55 coupe was brought to the four-door hardtop in 1963.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Also arriving with the 1962-1963 Mercury S-55 (and Ford XLs) was a pair of limited-production Marauder 406s. Both were basically bored-out and beefed-up 390s boasting wilder camshafts, mechanical instead of hydraulic lifters, high 10.9:1 compression, low-restriction air cleaner, tuned headers, and dual exhausts.

The "ordinary" four-barrel version of the Marauder, offered mainly to qualify for stock-car racing, pumped out 385 horses and a tremendous 444 pounds/feet of torque. For drag strip duty, there was a triple two-barrel 406 rated at 405 bhp -- almost the magic "1 h.p. per cu. in." and the most power Mercury had ever offered.

Sporty fast-road work, not winning track performance, was the Mercury S-55's main mission. As a result, most of the 1962 Mercury S-55s left the factory with one of the 390s and standard three-speed Multi-Drive automatic (Cruise-O-Matic at Ford), though four-speed manual was a no-cost, if seldom ordered, option. Besides, the 406s were expensive ($321 for the "NASCAR" mill, $406 for the "drag" engine).

Then again, the Mercury S-55 was hardly budget-priced itself, as it carried a sticker nearly $520 over comparable Customs. But at least it offered a fair amount of equipment to offset its cost: slim-back front bucket seats, a shiny center shift console with glove box, all-vinyl trim, special tri-color wheel covers and "S-Fifty-Five" exterior i.d., heavy-duty suspension and brakes, and meatier 7.10 x 15 tires.

But price was evidently a problem, because S-55 sales stopped at just under 4,100. Pontiac, meanwhile, moved over 30,000 of its plush new 1962 Grand Prix hardtops.

Nevertheless, the S-55 returned for 1963. Though the basic package was unchanged, the 406 options were joined by a pair of new 427s: four-barrel 410-bhp and twin-four-barrel 425-bhp. Mercury's 1963 styling was all new and quite distinctive, especially the reverse-slant "Breezeway" roof with drop-down rear window on the S-55 hardtop coupe.

But there was also a four-door hardtop S-55 in addition to the convertible, and at midseason there appeared a handsome "slantback" hardtop coupe called Marauder, offered in both Custom and S-55 form. The added models meant a slightly broader price range, and this plus a full sales year boosted S-55 production to 8,764 -- better, but still far behind other big sporty models.

With such modest popularity, It's hardly surprising that the S-55 disappeared from Mercury's 25th Anniversary big-car line. However, its essential features survived in a "Sports Package" option for the top-line 1964 Park Lane convertible and Marauder two- and four-door hardtops. But the S-55 would eventually return.

See the specification for the 1962-1963 Mercury S-55 on the next page.

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