Junkyard Find, Sajeev's Bitter Tears Edition: 1971 Mercury Montego Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

It’s not hard to find Detroit sedans of the early to mid 1970s in California self-service wrecking yards, and so I usually don’t photograph stuff like ’73 Olds 88s or ’76 Chrysler New Yorkers unless they’re in pretty decent condition. However, the 1970-71 Mercury Montego is special because these cars (and their Cyclone cousins) have the craziest snouts of just about any vehicle from Detroit during the second half of the 20th century, thus I felt compelled to photograph this very battered example. It also pleases me to make Lincoln-Mercury loyalist Sajeev Mehta taste his own bitter tears, so here we go!

As was the case with nearly every Mercury-badged car, the Montego was sibling to a slightly less expensive Ford product. For the 1968 through 1976 model years, that Ford product was the Torino, and the Mercury Division decided to make the 1970 and 1971 Montegos look much different from their Torino counterparts.

Since the grille of the Torino was already quite distant from the front of the engine, thanks to the long-hood styling that was popular in that era, the Montego had room for this. How many luckless pedestrians were grabbed and trapped by those big pockets between the Montego’s huge nose and the leading edges of the fenders?

Like most midsize Detroit sedans of this era, the typical Montego had a big cushy bench seat and automatic column shifter.

This Montego had some serious fiberglass-and-body-filler repair work done on its right rear door, probably when the car was still new enough to be worth OK money.

When you see a vinyl roof on a Detroit car of this era in California, you can assume there’s scary rust beneath. The sun and smog disintegrate the vinyl, and then water builds up next to the metal during those wet California winters. Still, a Cyclone in this condition would well worth be restoring.

Here’s how Lincoln-Mercury dealers pitched this generation of cars.

[Images: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars; Brochure from automaker]

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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