The epitome of leviathan bulk during the excessive “Me” decade of the 1970’s can be exemplified by the bulk of full-sized offerings from all Detroit Brands. You can’t point a finger at any American Manufacturer without blaming the other for producing some of the most blatantly wasteful automobiles of all time, decidedly at the wrong time when it comes to market conditions.
No example shows a lack of ideas better than a 1973 Mercury Monterey 2 door hardtop coupe, however. Basically a super tanker on wheels, it spoke of everything possibly gone wrong with the traditional American Car. In the huge shadow that this porcine parkway pounder cast, many a sea change in the American Automotive landscape started to take root.
This is not to say that these beasts weren’t successful in their time. It’s a good reminder to oneself that the Monterey Custom was the middle child in the fat cat Full Sized Mercury line up for 1973. There was of course the hidden headlamp, Lincoln Continental aping Marquis & Marquis Brougham that commanded a heftier premium.
Nevermind the fact that these beheamoths sat upon a line up of including the mushy Montego, corpulent Cougar, a Comet and a Bobcat just for good measure. Mercury Motor Division had a fine selection of fancier Fords to offer you to keep your Bell Bottoms safe in. The variety belied an ugly truth. Underneath it all, there wasn’t an American designed Ford Motor Company product that wasn’t related to each other in some way.
The magic of body, chassis and engine sharing with minimal trim differences between the 3 major brands meant. In reality, there was little incentive to choose a Monterey over a comparably equipped Galaxie other than a smidge more chrome for your extra dollars.
By 1973, it did bring the 351 Windsor V8 as standard equipment over the 302 cube version in the carbon copy Ford. However, these were the first few years of labyrith level emissions equipment performing S&M bondage on a number of formerly stout V8s.
Between the restrictions of rubber and saddled with nearly 2 1/2 tons of steel, the base V8’s could barely accomplish the missions they once were so readily capable of. More people stepped up to the Marquis with it’s standard 429 Cube unit to go with the more sound insulation and more foreboding styling.
Although the price prince Monterey wouldn’t accrue the bulk of big Mercury sales and would disappear from the store shelves in 1974, the behemoth big Ford & Mercury of the 1970’s were one of the most successful automotive chassis designs ever produced. In their 10 years on the market, nearly 8 million examples went to more than satisfied customers. That makes the basic chassis design the 2nd most popular in the United States of all time, right behind Ford’s own Model T.
There’s no denying, despite their numerous deficiencies they had some charms. Among them, they are resolutely stout cars, with rather understressed drivetrains and an isolationist experience worthy of the New England wilderness. They’re the biggest, but not necessarily brightest blowout of the traditional American Full sized car, as by the dawning of the new Morning In America, Full sizers returned to a bit more rational size and scope. The world faced dwindling resources after two Energy Scares during the life of these cars, rendering such needless bulk obsolete.
There’ll never be another general purpose, common car so large. Whether that’s something to grieve is a matter of taste. Yet, you can’t help but be charmed, on some level, by the last of the not so fancy Fat Fords from the early 1970’s.