By on September 6, 2012

When I saw this 1964 Mercury Park Lane convertible at the Ford and Mercury Restorers Club meet a few weeks ago, I immediately knew what it was. Actually that’s a fib. I didn’t actually realize exactly what car this was until I saw the informational panel laid out in front of the Merc. Then I knew immediately what it was. Earlier this year TTAC ran a post of mine about the car companies’ pavilions at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. The Detroit automakers went all out and Ford, working with Walt Disney’s team, came up with a novel way of exposing fair visitors to Ford and Mercury cars.

The Disney crew came up with what was branded the Magic Skyway. It was a continuous conveyor that carried 134 Ford and Mercury convertibles, plus a dozen of the earliest Mustang convertibles made (the Mustang was first introduced to the public on the day the fair opened, April 17, 1964). Families would hop into a Ford or Mercury and it would carry them past a series of dioramas that showed the ascent of man from the earth’s earliest history to highways in the sky. This ’64 Park Lane was one of those cars. While those early Mustangs are holy grailish for Mustang enthusiasts, this Mercury’s history also makes it a very unique car. Unique as in singular because it’s a “one of one” car in so many ways.

To begin with, it was ordered and built specifically for the ride at the World’s Fair. According to one account, it was the very first of the World’s Fair cars made. It was the only one of the NYWF Mercurys painted in “palamino”. 1964 was also Mercury’s 25th anniversary year so this was a special 25th Anniversary Edition. In addition to being equipped with a 380 CI V8 and an automatic transmission, it was built with every power, luxury and convenience option that Mercury offered on the car.

YouTube Preview Image

This exact car was photographed with Henry Ford II, Walt Disney and Robert Moses, the legendary NY politician who ran the fair. I believe that you can see it in this video at ~4:51 (the video’s color is not very good, that might be a red car).

This Park Lane also has unbroken provenance and it’s been owned by one family car new. Well, “new” is open to question because of the tens of thousands of people who rode in it at the Ford pavilion. After it was retired from service on the Magic Skyway when the fair closed, like many cars used for promotional purposes, the Park Lane ended up in Ford’s “B lot”, where employees could buy them as used cars. Adolph “AJ” Jedryczka worked for Ford engineering and bought the car for $2,500. His co-workers thought he was foolish. They joked about him driving a car that had been sat in by thousands of people’s behinds. Jedryczka paid them no heed, he and his wife loved the car. So did their daughter Virginia.

You can see the bracket used to attach the car to the Magic Skyway welded to the rear axle just inboard of the spring shackles.

AJ drove the car to work every day at Building 5 in Ford’s Dearborn engineering center until it was taken out of service in 1970. Six years sounds about right for the usable life of typical car back then. Still, the Jedryczka family knew it was a special car because instead of selling or scrapping it, they parked it in their garage. It still has the original engine, transmission and rear end so it’s a number’s matching car. Actually the rear end is important to establishing the car’s authenticity as it still has the special brackets that were welded to the World’s Fair cars so they could be anchored to the Magic Skyway.

After it was parked, it sat for 40 years. Virginia grew up and got married and two years ago she and her husband started to restore the Park Lane. The restored car had its debut at the Detroit Autorama earlier this year and, as you can see, the family is now displaying it at regional car shows, in one case taking the car back to its old haunts. A few weeks after the Ford & Mercury restorers’ meet, the Park Lane was the hit of a Ford employees’ car show held adjacent to Building 5 in Ford’s Dearborn engineering complex. It looks like there’s a large car show held every fall there in Queens so perhaps the Jedryczkas’ Park Lane will yet again ride in the mean streets of Flushing Meadows.

For more pics, visit Cars In Depth.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

 

 

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10 Comments on “Look What I Found! One Family Numbers Matching 1964 Mercury Park Lane Convertible From Ford’s NY World’s Fair Magic Skyway...”


  • avatar
    tced2

    I attended the 1964 Worlds Fair as a high school student and rode the Magic Skyway. I have some pictures from the trip but have no memory of what kind of car I rode on the Magic Skyway. I also recall riding the GM Futurama display but GM cars were not used for the passengers.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    There’s, at least, a 1 in 134 chance that I have sat in this car. I remember being disappointed in not getting to ride in one of the Mustangs, so I don’t remember the exact car that propelled me along the Magic Skyway.

    I do remember that I much preferred the GM pavilion. It was all about the future.

    BTW, I came across an original opening-day ticket to the fair that has been in my family since 1964. My mom and dad ran the restaurant at the Swedish Pavilion, so we had lots of free tickets. They smuggled me into the fair before it opened. I hid in the back of our ’58 Beetle. I felt really privileged to be the first of my friends to see the inside of the fair despite the fact that it was, largely, a construction site at the time.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Absolutely freakin’ gorgeous. What I love about cars like this is that total Time-Machine feeling when you close the door and get behind the wheel. For this lucky couple, it’s 1964 and the world is open, shiny, and new and right in front of them again. For a minute, an hour, they can take a time-vacation from today’s reality. God love em.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Nice story. Learned something new today. And this car — yes, please.

    Grandma had a 65 Mercury Comet with the 289 and Montgomery Wards aftermarket air conditioning. Learned how to drive in that car. Always have a soft spot in my heart for old Mercurys. The one pictured here is a time capsule.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Awesome car, but terrible color.

    Incidentally, why is it that I’ve never heard of any other world’s fair but the 1964 New York one? Was it the only one ever held, or were the other ones flops? Maybe one of you guys can shed light on this.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Roberto,

      There have been worlds fairs since the 1800′s. I don’t know how many were success, or not, but Seattle had two of them, the 1909 Alaska exposition, and the 1962 World’s Fair, now celebrating it’s 50th year, and at that fair, the Space Needle was built, as was the Seattle Center.

      Both still exist today, though the fairgrounds has been renovated over time, and it’s not exactly like it was 50 years ago as many of the buildings were either replaced, or overhauled since then. Memorial Stadium, the Center House, the Arena, and the International Fountain amongst many of the pavilions, now used as meeting rooms still exist to this day, and it was a successful fair. NY’s World Fair was not successful, even if it ran for 2 years.

      Oh, Seattle still sees daily use out of its original Monorail system too.

    • 0 avatar
      Jon Fage

      Actually, the 1964-65 World’s Fair was not officially sanctioned by the Bureau of International Expositions. In fact, the New York “World’s Fair” was more a product of Robert Moses’ ego – and most of the countries in the world didn’t bother to show – so corporations and individual US states had to fill the void with pavillions of their own. The New York fair was largely considered a financial disaster due to questionable accounting practices.

      The most successful World’s Fair was held just two years later, and just a few hours’ drive to the north in Montreal. Expo ’67 was an officially sanctioned world’s fair, attracted 62 countries and over 569,000 attendees on the third day alone! Expo ’67 is considered a high-water mark in Canada’s history and evolution as a nation.

      Expo ’86 in Vancouver adopted a transportation theme and was also incredibly successful.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    There have been lots of World’s Fairs. Seattle had one in the early ’60s for which the Space Needle was built. The most recent one in the US was in Knoxville, Tennessee. The NY World’s Fair of ’64-65 was the second on that site (Flushing Meadows, Queens), the first being the 1939-40 fair where GM introduced Futurama.

    Curiously, I had been told that the ’64-’65 fair was not actually sanctioned by the body that awarded cities the right to hold them. It was Robert Moses last great achievement in New York. It marked the last time any new major infrastructure was built in NYC capping the construction of the Throgs Neck and Verizano bridges.

    My dad was issued a company car, a white 1964 Volvo Amazon wagon just to do his job of running the Swedish Pavilion restaurant. Coming home from an alcohol-fueled company party with my mom and two Swedish officials, he rolled the car three times on Queens Boulevard with champagne bottles flying around the interior. Everyone walked away, or as I should say, the two Swedes ran away at my Father’s urging lest they get embroiled in the post-accident investigation. The car was completely totalled and he subsequently got a new ’65 car that was an exact replica.

  • avatar
    MrFixit1599

    Not to sound like an ass, but was the 380 engine a typo and you meant a 390? I have never heard of a ford/lincoln/mercury engine with that displacement.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    You are correct, Ford never made a 380 cid engine, it was a 390.


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