- - Thursday, April 19, 2012

Growing up in Potomac, Paul Massaro says, ‘My family always had Mercurys.’

A couple of years ago, with the automotive history of the family in mind, he began shopping for a Mercury Comet. That search was unsuccessful but it led to a 1964 Mercury Marauder Montclair for sale on EBay.

That 25th-anniversary Mercury was painted a distinctive one-year-only silver metallic color and sported the new fastback roofline.

Bidding on the car never reached the reserve so Mr. Massaro contacted the Canadian seller in Saskatchewan and negotiations began.

It was August 2003 when Mr. Massaro was satisfied that this restored Mercury was a car that he could buy sight unseen.

The seller arranged to ship the car to the United States by rail and then transfer it to a truck for the remainder of the journey. Mr. Massaro was disappointed when he learned the Mercury missed the scheduled train. The journey was delayed only one day.

He was sitting in the kitchen when he saw what he thought was his Mercury drive by. The big truck couldn’t negotiate the residential streets so the driver unloaded the Mercury from his truck and set off in the car to find the address.

Mr. Massaro says the car arrived in the advertised condition and there were no unpleasant surprises. The Mercury was given a thorough physical examination and then Mr. Massaro could hardly contain his glee at firing up the unrestricted 300-horsepower, 390-cubic-inch V-8 engine under the four-barrel carburetor and taking his car out for some much-anticipated highway exercise.

He found the Multi-Drive Merc-O-Matic automatic transmission floor shifter easy to operate and the power steering, power brakes and power seat all functioning properly.

The three-spoke steering wheel has a horn button on each spoke while at the hub is the Roman numeral XXV, signifying the 25 years since the first Mercury appeared in 1939.

Mr. Massaro has learned that his Mercury was one of 6,459 built in Ontario. Each one had a base price of $3,127.

New at the time was the fastback styling, which the owner describes as ‘very sporty.’ It’s difficult to think of a car that comes within a half-inch of 18 feet as sporty but the Mercury, with sharply pointed front fenders, successfully pulls it off.

Atop each front fender, incorporated in the stainless-steel trim, are turn signal marker lights to alert the driver that the signal indicator is activated.

Mr. Massaro reports that his car was painted a year before he bought it.

During that restoration the white vinyl interior and bucket seats were reupholstered and the black carpeting was replaced. A padded dashboard matches the color of the carpet.

Going back to the Internet, Mr. Massaro located a set of spinner wheel covers that nicely set off the appearance of the car, which had arrived without hubcaps

A new four-barrel carburetor has replaced the gunked-up old one and the Mercury now sports an electronic ignition. ‘It’s a fast car,’ the owner says. ‘It’ll move.’

Eleven-inch drum brakes at each wheel stand ready to reel in the speeding car on 8.00x14-inch tires.

The Mercury rides on a 120-inch wheelbase.

Four headlights are mounted in the pointed grille, which mimics the pointed front fenders. At the other end of the big Mercury are what appear to be six taillights. The two inboard lights are disguised backup lights.

Specifications that came with the Mercury when it was new require the 16.6-gallon gasoline tank be filled with premium fuel. The cooling system capacity is 17 quarts, including the heater. Six quarts of oil are required when the filter is changed.

I try to use it at least once a week all year long,’ Mr. Massaro says. ‘It’s a great car to drive.’

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