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Classic Used Oil Generators: 1959 Mercury
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By Vern Parker

In the 74 years that Mercury automobiles have been manufactured the brand has often struggled with an identity problem. Mercurys were often identified as senior Fords or junior Lincolns.

During the 1950s, however, Mercurys had their own distinctive identity. A total of 4,426 Mercury Monterey convertibles were built in 1959. One of them, a Maderia Yellow model, was sent to the Port Motors Lincoln Mercury dealership in Manhasset, N.Y.

It was there, not far from her home, that Donna Budd saw the handsome Mercury. She promptly arranged to trade her 1955 Mercury coupe for the yellow convertible.

The 4,074-pound Mercury was equipped with optional extras including:

* Automatic transmission...$189.60.
* Power steering......................75.30.
* Heater/defroster....................74.50.
* AM radio..............................58.50.
* Power brakes........................43.20.
* White sidewall tires..............41.00.
* Safety belts...........................20.60.
* Padded dashboard.................19.20.
* Full wheel covers..................16.60.
* Electric clock........................14.60.
* Windshield washer................13.70.
* Courtesy light group.............10.80.
* Backup lights..........................9.50.

She received an allowance of $1,643.45 on her old Mercury. The total cash delivered price of the new Mercury was $3,908.45. That left a balance owed of $2,265 which was financed and paid off at the monthly rate of $70.47 for 36 months. The car had a warranty of 90 days or 4,000 miles, whichever came first.

Standard equipment on the Mercury at no extra cost included:

* Tandem electric wipers.
* Self-adjusting brakes.
* Aluminized mufflers.
* Safety steering wheel.
* Full flow oil filter.

She took delivery of her new convertible on June 16, 1959, started the 312-cubic-inch V-8 engine and with 210 horsepower at her command happily drove home in her Mercury with 14-inch Goodyear tires supporting the car on a 126-inch wheelbase. Her records show that with the odometer at 117 miles she paid $3.30 for 9.7 gallons of gasoline.

In the mid-1960s a lot of military men were being sent to Vietnam. One of them was the father of Andy Budd. Budd was eight years old in the summer of 1967 when his family went to New York to visit his grandmother before his father went to war. It was on that visit that he took his only ride in his grandmother's Mercury. Even at that tender age, he was impressed by the car.

Another decade passed and the Budd family was stationed in Norfolk, Va. The health of Budd's grandmother was failing so she (and her Mercury) came to live with the family in Norfolk.

The car had always had a sheltered existence but in Norfolk it was exposed to the weather. "Grandma gave it to me,” Budd recalls, "but dad wouldn't let me have it.”

In February 1977 Budd's father sold the car to a Chesapeake, Va., man. Budd remembers telling his grandmother, "Some day I'll get that car back.”

That day arrived 32 years later when Budd tracked the car to Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. Records show that the man his father sold the car to kept it only a few months before selling it to two brothers-in-law. They took it to Wisconsin where one of the owners bought out the other one. The car was then parked in a garage for 30 years. In September 2008 two other Wisconsin men, avid antique automobile collectors, purchased the car.

Budd convinced them that his grandmother originally owned their car. He made several offers to buy the Mercury, each one more outrageous than the previous one. The men had no intention of selling the incredibly original condition car.

The men had both bumpers rechromed and the original paint restored and resprayed with a clear coat for a like new finish but with the original paint.

Budd offered the men money, then more money, then even more money and another antique car. The offers were rejected.

In October 2009 the two owners and Budd attended on antique car auction in Branson, Mo. At the conclusion of the auction Budd approached the reluctant owners and sweetened his earlier offers with still more cash.

The men thought it over and then agreed to sell the car to Budd, but only because it had been owned by his grandmother.

From Missouri Budd sent a truck to Wisconsin to get the Mercury and haul it to his Warrenton, Va., home.

Now, whenever the weather is nice he takes grandma's Mercury out for a little road therapy. After a half century, the odometer is just now approaching 28,000 miles.


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