Mercury Woodie Station Wagon
Mercury was the brainchild of Edsel Ford. In the early 1930s, there was a huge gap between the most expensive Ford and the flagship Lincoln, such that three and half Fords could be purchased for the difference alone. The revolutionary, lower-priced Lincoln-Zephyr of 1936 mitigated this somewhat, but there was still a $500 “dead space” in the price list opposite Oldsmobile, Dodge and DeSoto. Edsel correctly perceived the need for a car selling in the $950 range.
There was some controversy about what to call it. Early prototypes bore the name “Ford Mercury,” implying that it was intended to be a premium model Ford. In the end, a whole new nameplate was created, and while the Mercury was in many respects a large Ford, it also had a personality of its own. While obviously Ford-shaped, Mercury had its own, more sophisticated sheet metal. And while mechanically it was very much like a Ford, its engine was bored an eighth of an inch, giving 239 cubic inches and 95 horsepower, to Ford’s 85. At 116 inches, its wheelbase was four inches longer than Ford’s, all of it ahead of the firewall, and this difference would last for more than a decade.
The 1940 model year was slightly better, with more than 81,000 sold, and a new body style – a convertible sedan. Oddly, Ford had discontinued the four-door convertible after 1939, and Mercury picked it up. There was, however, no station wagon, perhaps because the differences from the Ford body would have dictated a different wood station wagon body.
For 1941, however, the car bodies were rationalized with Ford. This provided economies of scale, since the lower-priced car sold at eight times the Mercury volume. The fact that the wheelbase difference was all in the nose helped immensely. Ford’s wheelbase grew two inches to 114; Mercury’s thus was 118 and it would remain so for as long as the wood station wagons were built.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August 2009 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.
95 bhp, 239 cu. in. Flathead V8 engine, three-speed manual transmission with Columbia rear end, solid front axle and live rear axle with transverse semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 118".
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel