Edsel Ford created Mercury in 1939, to fill the gap between Ford’s regular models and the company’s Lincoln luxmobiles. The two divisions were merged after World War II to create the Lincoln-Mercury Division, to stress the fact that the Mercury should be seen as a ‘junior Lincoln’ rather than ‘senior Ford’.
The Mercury’s soar away decade would be the 1950s, with a succession of big winners, but the trend started in 1949 when the Mercury new-look integrated body was introduced, updating a tired line that had mainly been styled in the early 1940s.
The rounded number newcomer with its flush wings became known as the ‘inverted bathtub’, echoing the modish styling of contemporary Hudsons and Packards. The well-built Mercury had a solid presence, yet appeared streamlined with clean, pleasing lines. Four body styles were offered — a four-door sport sedan, coupe, convertible and a two-door station wagon with much less wood than its predecessor.
Along with the Mercury 1949’s attractive looks came a beefed-up engine sitting on a new chassis with independent front suspension and longitudinal leaf springs at the rear that (at last) superseded old Henry Ford’s beloved but somewhat insensitive single transverse leaf system. The result was a fast, comfortable machine that did indeed establish Mercury’s luxury credentials and even offered Touch-O-Matic overdrive as a tempting option. Other tasty possibilities included power windows (standard on the convertible), power seats, a heater, two-tone paintwork and whitewall tires.
There were new models added to the line-up in 1950 (a starter coupe and limited edition Monterey coupe), whilst the eagerly awaited Merc-O-Matic automatic transmission arrived in 1951. Impressive all new-styling appeared in 1952 to oust the classic Bathtub Mercurys and capitalize fully on the marque’s proven appeal in a new decade, but not before over 900,000 1949-1951 units had been sold.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1949 (Unti1 1951)
4.2 l (256 cid) V8
Top speed of 105 mph (169 km/h)
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
From the start, one of the chief selling points of Mercury cars was their high performance, echoing the model name (Mercury was the speedy winged messenger of Greek mythology) and easily outrunning Fords v8s with the same motor, as a result of Mercury’s careful engine-tuning program.