The 1963 Mercury may have had its origins in Elwood Engel's Attaché, which was a 1961 Lincoln design proposal. When company chiefs realized how good this design was, they designated it for the '64 Ford and transferred the intended Ford design to the '63 Mercury.
A return to a concave grille and six round tail-lights (as in '61) were part of the bargain, but bodysides got flatter than they had been for the previous two years. Bright strip moldings highlighted the upper body, from the tips of the front fenders to the tiny outwardly canted tailfins. The topper -- quite literally -- was the return of the Breezeway roof for all full-sized sedans and hardtops.
The 1963 Mercury Breezeway had a
The configuration for these new Breezeways copied the 1958-60 Lincoln Continentals in that it used a reverse-slant backlight with a wide power-retracting center section. Also like the Lincolns, the base of each roof pillar was spruced up with a decorative ribbed panel terminating in a short chrome spear that trailed out onto the deck. A thick bright molding framed the rear window.
The revival of the Breezeway was a product planning scheme to further separate Mercury from Ford when they still had the same inner-body panels and chassis frames. Ford's full-sized cars continued to use a Thunderbird-like roof with wide forward-leaning sail panels.
The basic Monterey series featured two- and four-door sedans and hardtops. Dressier Monterey Custom Breezeways offered a pick of four-door sedan, two-door hardtop, or four-door hardtop. The sporty S-55 -- decked out with a bucket-seats-and-console interior -- started the year with just one Breezeway, a two-door hardtop, but added a four-door companion later in the model year.
"The window has three primary advantages, all equally valuable as far as we're concerned," Motor Trend pointed out in a test of a Monterey Custom sedan for its March 1963 issue. "There is, of course, more head room for rear seat passengers than with the window sloped in the regular manner. The window's roof overhang provides a generous sunshade for the rear seat. ... Finally, the window opens, operated by a dash control, and is very handy as a ventilation aid."
MT recommended opening one or both of the dash-controlled cowl vents and lowering the backlight only partway because, "We did find that to open the rear window all the way at highway speeds was to invite swirling, uncomfortable drafts."
Car Life was similarly impressed with the S-55 hardtop coupe it tried. "About the styling of the current Mercurys, we can only say that the 'notch-back' rear window provides the best ventilation and rearward visibility we've yet found on a '63 car," it said, but added, "It does make the rear-end appear abnormally long."
While Ford engine choices began with a six and included smaller- displacement V-8s, Mercs now came with nothing less than a 390-cid V-8. The base version of this engine with a two-barrel carburetor, exclusive to Mercury, was rated at 250 bhp; with it, Motor Trend reported a 0-60-mph time of 11.3 seconds and a quarter-mile pass in 18.5 seconds.
Standard in the S-55 (and optional in others) was a four-barrel job good for 300 bhp. Fitted with mechanical lifters, this same engine cranked out 330 horses in an available "Police Special."
Additionally, there were two 406-cid engines at 385 and 405 bhp. Then at midyear came the 427, which eventually replaced the 406. With a single four-barrel carb, the 427 made 410 bhp. The dual-quad variant raised output to 425 horsepower and blitzed the quarter mile in 15.1 seconds in Car Life's test.
Early in '63, Ford and Mercury added a second two-door hardtop to their big-car lineups, a shared "slantback" design Ford called the Sports Hardtop and Mercury dubbed the Marauder. Ford Galaxie 500 and 500/XL buyers flocked to this lower, leaner look, but patrons of the Monterey Custom and S-55 showed a slight preference for the Breezeway over the Marauder.
Total Mercury output fell by about 35,000 cars, but the full-sizers weren't to blame: Model-year assemblies rose to 121,048 units, 76 percent of them Breezeways.
Keep reading to learn about the 1964 Mercury Breezeway.
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