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In the Garage: 1956 Mercury Montclair
THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1956 Mercury Montclair convertible owned by Joseph P. Nolan
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
Among collectors of mid-fifties convertibles, the massive, bull-nosed Mercurys were once overshadowed by cars like the "Tri-Five" (1955-56-57) Chevrolets. But those days are over, and enthusiasts are now gravitating to these powerful cruisers. At the same time, the hobby has placed a premium on original, unrestored cars. Nolan's stunning turquoise drop top delivers on both counts. "It's a factory, unrestored original car wearing its St. Louis manufacturing location 'Niagara Blue' with 'Lauderdale Blue' accent paint," he says.
Powering the big Merc' is a late-production-date 312-cubic-inch V-8 (known as the "Y-block") pumping out 235 horsepower, just five less than the top engine in a contemporary Corvette. As Mercury's top-of-the-line car for 1956, the convertible features all power options, including steering, brakes, windows, seat and radio antenna. Less than 8,000 were produced that year.
HOW LONG HE'S OWNED IT
WHERE HE FOUND IT
Nolan says he learned about the Mercury while he was attending a national Ford Thunderbird show. "I bought it in Downey, CA in September of 2008," he says. "The car was a lifelong Kentucky vehicle. I searched for 20 years, as 1955-1956 Mercury convertibles in outstanding restored condition are rare. Unrestored condition cars are absolutely uncommon."
Nolan had the car shipped to Long Island with 34,855 miles on the clock and he's added less than 1,000 since that time. The convertible has already garnered two prestigious honors: a 2011 Certified Bloomington Gold Zenith prize for outstanding preservation and an Antique Automobile Club of America certified HPOF (historic preservation original features) award.
TIPS FOR OWNERS
"Consider the evolving world of unrestored collector cars," he advises. "The year associated with the culture and influences of the actual car builders is more compelling than what current-era restoration facilities can accomplish. On this car, imagine the perspective of Mercury car line workers in April of 1956. Did they fight in Iwo Jima? Were they working their way up to management? They certainly weren't answering cell phones or checking e-mail on iPads or a Blackberry while working."
"I would benchmark this example between $65,000 and $75,000," he says. "Restored examples have sold from $65,000 to $135,000." Sticker price for the new car was about $3,500.
"The whole family dresses in turquoise colors for every car show and parade we attend," Nolan says. "People are delighted to know the top, interior, carpet and most of the paint are as born. The collector car hobby has been a family affair since I married my wife in 1981. The car connects me with my beloved 'doo-wop' music and growing up on Long Island, even though I was only two years old when it debuted."