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95% original survivor. 390/3-spd, triple black, new top, runs & drives like new.

For sale: 1965 Mercury Monterey

Technical specifications

Item location:
Macedonia, Ohio, United States
Number of cylinders:
Interior color:
Vehicle Title:
Contact the seller / ! Report


Mercury was always the in-between brand that was well positioned. More upscale and luxurious than a basic Ford, but not as, shall we say, mature as the Lincolns. As a result, the cars offered big car comfort, plenty of performance, and an image that was a little outside the mainstream, turning them into a welcome sight at any crowded event. By the 1960s, Mercury had embraced horsepower and a means to attracting buyers, and even their most pedestrian sedans were packing big-car firepower in a mid-sized package. At the very top of the lineup, the Monterey was perhaps the ideal blend of performance, comfort, and style, giving buyers a very attractive alternative to, say, a frumpy Buick or Chrysler.

This 1965 Mercury Monterey convertible is one of those wonderful survivors that combines low mileage with excellent care over the past five decades to create an almost-new driving experience wrapped in a car that still looks fantastic. This is an original black-on-black car, so it was this sinister-looking when it was new, and the semi-gothic look of the 1965 Mercurys seems to work best in black. The paint is unquestionably original, with a nice gloss and great coverage, but with the usual signs of use here and there. There are a few thin spots, mostly near the body relief line on the side, which is obviously a high-traffic area when you’re polishing it up, but for the most part, this car looks dynamite. And while it has been a life-long Cleveland car sold right here in Bedford, there’s absolutely no evidence that it was ever used in the winter, so no worries about it being a rust bucket underneath. And the best thing about being a survivor with original paint is that you know there are no patches, no botched bondo work, and no body rot waiting to surprise a new owner. The doors are exactly where assembly line workers put them in early 1965, the hood closes with a gentle click not a heavy slam, and the whole car still feels quite fresh. The chrome is likewise in great shape, with shiny bumpers, a crisply rendered grille with no cracks or breaks, and plenty of cool styling details like the speed streaks on the leading edges of the front fenders. Look at it closely—this is a really handsome car!

Code 26 black vinyl is what it says on the door tag and that’s what’s still living inside, a handsome two-tone gray and black setup that separates the Monterey from its lesser siblings. As I mentioned, the upholstery is original, including the carpets, and that should tell you all you need to know about just how well-preserved this car really is. The power front bench seat is still supportive and comfortable enough for long cruises and the door panels are elegantly simple with just the right amount of bright trim. Mercury gave you a full array of instruments in round housings and someone has very neatly installed a small tachometer in the right-most opening, a detail that is so right that it could pass for a factory job (yes, it works!). Interestingly, this Monterey offers a 3-speed manual with column shift, an unusual find in a full-sized luxury convertible, but one that also gives it a bit of a sporty demeanor. Shift action is light, and I definitely prefer this to the much more common automatic slushbox. The original AM radio remains in the dash and it makes noise but doesn’t seem to pull in stations, even with the operational power antenna fully extended. The back seat looks almost completely unused and if there’s any real demerit inside this car, it’s that there’s some light fading on the transmission tunnel carpet, but that’s not unusual with black carpets in convertibles and I wouldn’t even consider replacing it. The black power convertible top is just too nice to be original, and offers a glass rear window, all of which disappears under a nice-fitting black boot. The trunk is very original, with factory-issued mats and gray spatter paint, but zero rust issues and a full-sized spare with jack assembly.

In the horsepower department, this big ragtop moves like a muscle car thanks to its original, numbers-matching 390 cubic inch V8. Still wearing its original 2-barrel carburetor, it generates the smoothest wave of torque you’ve ever experienced, moving the car with effortless ease. It starts quickly and easily, settles into a smooth idle almost immediately, and never gets cranky no matter what you’re doing. Sure, it’s a little scruffy under the hood, but that’s original bright orange paint on the air cleaner and valve covers and there’s plenty of evidence of proper maintenance over the years. Some surface rust on the radiator cradle is nothing to worry about, and if you’re eager to make it sparkle, a weekend of cleaning and selective painting could take it up a notch without erasing too much originality. On the other hand, if you’re like me and like to drive, you won’t mind a little dirt and instead will simply enjoy the way it works.

The three-speed manual transmission makes it a lot of fun to drive, and with 3.00 gears out back, it’s a fantastic highway cruiser with very long legs. Around town, it’s easy to let the 390’s big, flat torque curve pull you around in top gear, making downshifts almost unnecessary for anything but a dead stop, and it really is so smooth and quiet that you need to check the tach to be sure it’s still running. Power steering and brakes mean it’s easy to handle at any speed and the purring single exhaust has a newer muffler that keeps its voice down to a whisper. The underside is quite clean, again reinforcing the idea that this car has never seen winter weather, and it’s wearing a dusting of undercoating that has likely been there since it was sitting on the dealer’s lot. The flashy Cragar mags are brand new and make a huge difference in the car’s attitude, but if you’re a purist, there are also two sets of original hubcaps in the trunk that you can retrofit to a set of steel wheels for a factory-original look. Those fat 225/70/15 Mickey Thompson radials are brand new, too.

I love original cars, particularly for the way they drive, and this might just be the best-driving survivor I’ve ever experienced. That’s not hype, that’s me saying that if you weren’t there when these cars were new, you’re going to be shocked by just how polished this car feels. Fast, comfortable, stylish, and just unusual enough to attract attention, this awesome black Merc does everything a collector car is supposed to do, all at a very reasonable price. Call today!

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