By on July 5, 2016

1971 Mercury Montego sedan in California Junkyard, front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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!

1971 Mercury Montego sedan brochure photo

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.

1971 Mercury Montego sedan in California Junkyard, grille - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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?

1971 Mercury Montego sedan in California Junkyard, front seats - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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

1971 Mercury Montego sedan in California Junkyard, body repair - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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.

1971 Mercury Montego sedan in California Junkyard, vinyl top - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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]

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